Sierrah Matthes started adapting to change at only 3-years-old. Moving from house to house and family member to family member was beneficial for Matthes and her future of being a military B.R.A.T. Not only did she adapt to moving around but she also adapted to saying goodbye and letting people go. A child up bringing sets them up to be more flexible and better able to cope with change, according to BBC Worklife, in the article “Third Culture Kids: Citizens of everywhere and nowhere.” At 8-years-old Matthes started a new chapter in her life. She found her new family within her aunt, uncle, and cousin. With them she lived the chaotic but exciting life of a military B.R.A.T.
Matthes and Her Many Temporary Homes
Matthes’s uncle was an officer in the United States Army. This requires officers to be stationed all over the world. Military families have to be open to the idea of moving every few years. The family’s first big move was from Littleton, Colo. to Puyallup, Wash., U.S.A. Matthes lived in Washington state for one year but during an interview, she mentions how exciting this first move was for her,
Everything was so new and exciting. I had never been outside of Colorado before. It just seemed like a whole new world to a little girl.Sierrah Matthes
She couldn’t recall making many friends in the year she was there, but she blames that on a lack of memory.
The second move took place when Matthes was 9-years-old. Her family packed up and moved to Burke, Va., where her uncle was stationed at the Pentagon. This is where she spent four of her developmental years and was the longest temporary home she had during her childhood. Matthes says she enjoyed her time the most in Virginia, “I think Virginia was my favorite state because I had the most time there. I was able to make friends and I even got to visit my uncle at the Pentagon and the White House. Most of my childhood memories come from my time in Virginia.”
Matthes had the hardest goodbyes while leaving Virginia because of the many friends she made while living there. According to the Children’s Mental Health Network,
These children are losing the worlds they love, over and over. They cycle through the stages of grief each time they move — or they don’t, and push it down, submerge it, only to have it bubble up later in life, unexplained.Nina Sichel March 30,2018
She remembers becoming very sad during the next move and this made adapting to a new culture and country much harder.
From Virginia to Germany
At the age of 14 they packed up again and moved from the United States to Heidelberg, Germany. Matthes recalls moments in Germany where she felt completely out of sink with the culture around her. She states that,
For the year I lived in Germany, there were certain times that my family and I would go into stores and we had no idea what was going on. Everything was labeled in a language we didn’t recognize and even asking for help was difficult because we didn’t speak German.Sierrah Matthes
She wasn’t able to completely immerse herself within German culture because she was surrounded by other Military B.R.A.T.s like herself. Just as fellow Military B.R.A.T Christine Manzanares, Matthes had a sheltered life on the military base in Germany. Matthes also only lived here for a little over one year. The experience of living in a country outside of her passport country was difficult on her. She mentions how she was slightly grateful to have only lived in Germany for a year.
The worst move for Matthes
After spending a year in Germany, Matthes’ uncle was stationed in Colorado Springs, Colo. About one year later when Matthes turned 16-years-old the family moved to Altus, Okla. This move was the hardest, she states because,
I would never move back to Oklahoma. It was a small town dominated by the military base. This was the hardest place to adapt to because the students at my school were either very wealthy or very poor. No one was accepting or welcomed me.Sierrah Matthes
In addition to a terrible school life, her home life got worse and worse as the years went on. She mentions that during her years of traveling she wished to have a good school life because her home life was not ideal. The relationships she had with her aunt, uncle and cousin grew worse and worse as Matthes got older. She began rebelling towards the end of her stay in Oklahoma. She ran away from home and was eventually caught and sent back to Colorado to live with her Grandmother. This was the last big move that Matthes made during her developmental years.
From the age of 17-18 Matthes lived with her Grandmother in Littleton, Colo. When she arrived back in Colorado she stated that she felt as if she could breathe again. Ever since she left at the age of 8 Matthes stated that,
“I always felt like there was a piece of my heart that was left behind in Colorado. I felt like my true home was always Colorado and for some reason I could never shake that feeling. Going back is exactly what I needed for my mental stability.”Sierrah Matthes
The Life of a Military B.R.A.T Part 3
Matthes had her fair share of cultural mobility during her life as a Military B.R.A.T. In part 3 Matthes will explain how being a Military B.R.A.T has impacted her life after she found her home in Colorado. She will also explain how her childhood influenced her chosen career path and how it made her into the person she is today.