Monday, June 24, 2013

Three Years and Counting

When I started this blog just before joining the Foreign Service in 2010, I was eager to join the throngs of FSO and FS family bloggers chronicling their adventures around the globe. I wanted to create a platform to not only recount my own stories to family and friends, but to also highlight the challenges of FS life, especially for those navigating the system with Members of Household (MOHs) or traveling with pets. Well, as you can see, that clearly didn't happen. Work got busy, life got messy, and keeping this updated became less and less of a priority.

Fast forward a couple of years and I'm ready to give it another shot, this time from Belgium as I start my second tour. I thought about deleting my earlier posts, wiping the slate clean, and coming up with a new blog to kick off my new assignment. But I decided that would be unfair to the person I was writing those early entries, so anxious about moving abroad and leaving loved ones behind, yet so full of hope and enthusiasm for the opportunities and experiences to come. Those early posts serve as a reminder to me about how far I've come, both personally and professionally, and also about why I joined in the first place.

I think any officer will tell you there are plenty of moments in your career-even as a green FSO in a first or second tour-that make you second guess your decision to uproot your life to serve your country far away from home. However, rereading some of those entries I can almost feel the butterflies in my stomach while taking the oath, or the swell of pride on Flag Day when I learned I'd be doing human rights work in Lebanon.   It's moments like those that will help me get through the early days in my new city, as I teeter on the fine line between tourist and resident, impatiently expecting to have carved out a life in a place I've only called home for a week.

Such is the strange reality that is FS life. Moving every few years; adapting to new customs, cultures, and languages; being given opportunities and facing obstacles beyond compare. These are the thrills and adventures I was seeking when I joined, and they are still what gets my blood pumping today. What I wasn't prepared for, though, was how this job would make me throw my well-crafted life plan out the window. The clearly-scripted goals, objectives, and milestones my Type-A personality had carefully outlined quickly succumbed to the unofficial "it depends" mantra of our line of work. I have been pushed, tested, and challenged, and I am a better person for it.

When I started this blog three years ago, I could never have imagined the many things to come...that I would live through the Arab Spring, interview Syrian refugees fleeing a bloody civil war, or end a nearly five-year-long relationship. I never thought I would study French and pack my bags to spend a couple years in the heart of Europe. Sometimes life goes as planned and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you end up where you intend and sometimes you don't. And sometimes you realize that all the zigzagging life has made actually led you to the exact place you should be. I could never have imagined Brussels was in my future, but here it is and here I am. Ready to see what this crazy and amazing way of life has in store.