After wrapping up my stint at FSI with a successful language exam (hooray!), I'm now en route to my next post in Mexico. I'm a little nervous, a little excited, and a little hopeful. This is one of the reasons I joined the Foreign Service - I always found that I got easily bored at my old jobs after a couple of years, and this is a way to keep things fresh. Plus, the travel. For me, that's a huge bonus. However, I had an interesting conversation with a relative a few days ago. I was encouraging him to take the FS entrance exam, and he said, "Your international move on Wednesday hinged on the outcome of a language exam on Friday. I just can't live with that level of uncertainty in my life."
It struck me that many people couldn't live with it. And I won't pretend I wasn't just a wee bit stressed out on Friday. But if I had failed the exam, I would have made arrangements to stay longer in D.C., and I would have moved a few weeks later. And it would have been fine. I wasn't THAT stressed. And maybe that's really the key thing that determines success in this career for us all - the ability to deal with that level of uncertainty. Everyone in the Service is reasonably smart, articulate, and traveled (usually). But not everyone deals with stress and uncertainty well. Right now, I do. I even thrive on it a little. Fifteen years from now? We'll see.
As an aside, the regulations were changed in the last couple of years to lower the maximum mileage one must drive while relocating to an average of 360 miles per day. At first, that seemed laughably low. Now, I get it. If you're making the drive solo, you can drive for 8-10 hours a day, with the window down and a hot cup of coffee and the radio turned up high. That can even be fun. However, I'm traveling with my Mom, who has an aching back and can't stand loud music. The dog paces and whines in the backseat after a couple of hours, and the cat starts protesting from the moment she is shoved back in her travel bag until the moment she arrives in a new hotel room. After 5-6 hours of this, I cannot WAIT to get out of the car and let everyone rest a while.
Happy Holidays - see you on the flip side.