The Agony of Waiting

Foreign Service Life
July 26, 2013


Patience has never been my strong suit.  I love information and I’d prefer to have it NOW.  It’s almost laughable that I ended up in a lifestyle that is basically one perpetual waiting period.

Wait to know where you’re going. Wait to know where you’re living. Wait to see how bad your government-issued furniture will be. Wait, wait, WAIT.

The problem with this?  Well, it becomes very hard to enjoy the present when you get to fixated on the waiting.  And honestly, it’s easy to let days, weeks, even months go by – ticking off time until you get told what’s next and then waiting in anticipation for THAT to get here.  It’s a nasty cycle and one that can leave Foreign Service peeps spending their entire time abroad looking ahead instead of making the most of the opportunities available to them in the present.

Not gonna lie, I’m totally guilty of this.  I do my best to catch myself and consciously re-engage with the present, but sometimes (LIKE NOW) I get so caught up in ‘what’s coming’ that I actually create suffering and anxiety for myself.

What am I waiting for, you ask?

  • For the wretched, dreary winter to be over in Peru (around December)
  • To get back to the States & see the sun again (in t-minus 4 weeks for our mandatory Rest & Relaxation trip where we’re required to visit a first world country and take a break from the challenges of third world living).
  • To receive our bid list (arrives August 1st)
  • To see what posts get taken off the list by those with first preference (by mid-August)
  • To see how the “Dating Game” plays out, which eventually leads…
  • To finding out where we’re going (around November 1st)
  • To know if we’ll be in DC for a year after that or heading directly to post (which affects how much money we spend now, what I do with my business, etc).

While I don’t dislike Peru, it hasn’t been a great fit either.  I’ve struggled to make friends, communicate in Spanish and even find my ‘thing’ here.  I am determined to have a better experience on our third tour, especially given that it’s for 3 years instead of 2.  Therefore, it feels really important that the 8 countries we put on our list are all ones that would be good cultural fits for us.  But can you see how this would be difficult given that we’ve never been to the majority of places we’re bidding on?

My internal process has been going something like this –> think too much, get anxious, wait, think too much, get more anxious, wait…

What I am clear about is that I need to refocus my energy from this thing that is essentially out of my hands to something that I can have an impact on.  What that is, I’m not quite sure…

I’d love to hear how you, my wise readers, handle ambiguity and waiting.  I am in desperate need of a new perspective or way of approaching this.

**Photo Credit: Ramon Mariano

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