missionary kid n. Often abbreviated MK. A person who grew up abroad because one or both parents were missionaries.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a missionary kid in possession of an appreciation for GIFs should be in want of a listicle about them. So I took this important and highly intellectual burden upon myself. But I should first say that it's difficult to put all MKs into one category; for example, someone who lived in Germany might have have a different point of view than an MK who grew up in Peru or the Philippines. I lived in a remote town in Papua New Guinea, so I have a somewhat third-world perspective.
And then there are the hipsters — those magnificent demigods who were my creative muses. When I look at their glorious flannel, Coke-bottle glasses and high-waisted pants, I can't help but think that, in their extreme coolness, they actually look like every missionary I've ever met. But let's get one thing out of the way right up front: of course MKs and hipsters are not that fundamentally similar. I'm merely poking fun at both parties, so please don't get offended if you are one or the other (or both). You are both just awkward and beautiful subgroups that I'm fascinated by. So, please enjoy the social weirdness that was my childhood:
1. Let's start with your attire: all of your clothes were secondhand from a thrift store, friend or older sibling...
...so you were usually a decade behind American fashion.
But you still thought you were a baller with fly taste that was ahead of your time.
2. All of your friends had glasses, and you really wished you had them, too. Sadly, your sight was too good to join the glasses group. You're still bitter. Whatever.
3. Mom jeans were a serious epidemic that still hasn't been entirely cured.
4. And then there were the men, most of whom had bushy, untamed beards...
...and wore cut-off jorts — much like the Williamsburg lumbersexuals of today.
5. All of your family's technology was super vintage, but not in a cool way. Your dad had brought that Macintosh 1995 over from America and goshdarnit if we weren't going to suck all of the life from it until your next furlough in 2001.
6. If you did own any kind of gaming console, it was either a Nintendo 64 or a Playstation 1, and you played the crap out of the two games that you owned.
7. You had no interest in or knowledge of pop culture. To this day, you may not have seen the "Baby One More Time" music video all the way through because you didn't get MTV.
8. When you went back to America (or wherever your home country was), you had nothing to add to conversations about '90s pop culture because you didn't grow up with television...
...but if they started talking about old movies, you were so on it.
9. You tried avoiding popular catch phrases — not because they were too mainstream but since it sounded so awkward when you tried to incorporate them into conversation.
10. One furlough, you attempted American public high school. Not surprisingly, it was awful. And no, you weren't a misunderstood emo kid, a.k.a., hipster in training...
...you just literally had no idea how to talk to people.
11. In fact, your social skills in general were a bit lacking because you went to an international school with 20 kids in your class — most of whom you'd known since preschool.
12. Then there were your friends, who always wanted to go camping in the woods and live off the land. And you were like, "okay," because peer pressure.
13. And since you lived in the middle of nowhere, you developed weird and unexplainable hobbies, like making moss gardens and collecting snails, putting them in jars and giving them to people as gifts. (Not that I did that or anything...)
14. You went barefoot as often as you could because shoes were so lame.
15. Organic vegetables and homemade food were your jam since you had a vegetable garden in your yard.
16. You were obsessed with riding bikes.
17. As for music, you had no idea what was popular in America, so you got pretty into indie bands (because you had cool friends) and your parents '60s folk collection (because it was there).
18. And since it was difficult to buy CDs in third-world countries, all of your friends had the mix CD scene down on lock.
19. But despite all the weirdness, you had THE BEST childhood, and even though you never did normal, American-kid things, you're convinced that everyone else just missed out.