The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

48 MARCH 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL I find that there is beauty both in being single and having a partner. In my book, whichever point you are at should be fully enjoyed, which is what I did—and I don’t regret a second of it. I would also say that having dated a local was a great experi- ence. Had it not been for that person, there are places, things, food and people I would never have enjoyed. Open yourself up, give the county a chance; enjoy all the great things the people have to offer. That way the question will be less about whether you’re alone or not, and more about all the amazing things the Foreign Service life has afforded you. –Entry-level Department of Defense employee I’ve spent about half of my 15-year Foreign Service career single. My first two tours overseas, I was as happy as I could be—socializing after work five or six nights a week, traveling constantly, accepting every invitation I received. I really made some great friends, both among locals and within the embassy, and sucked the proverbial marrow out of my experiences. When I returned to Washington for several years, I reconnected with long-time friends from college who lived in the area and spent considerable time investing in those relationships. I started to dread the thought of picking up and rebuilding my social network, once again; the idea actually tired me out, when it had once invigorated me. Honestly, if I hadn’t gotten married around that time, I’m not sure I would have stuck with this career. At the very least, I likely would have spent considerable portions of my career in Washington, a place that feels very much like home and where I have a well-established group of trusted friends. However, having a partner to navigate this topsy-turvy career has made subsequent transitions much smoother. In addition to having someone by your side to discover a new country, it’s now just plain easier to create a social network. For me, making transi- tions together with my husband alleviates some of the stress caused by the constant change. –Mid-level economic officer Love Yourself First Right now I am back in the United States about to go to court to get divorced. I have observed that the Foreign Ser- vice can uncover problems in a marriage. When overseas, the non-working spouse has to find their own way. It is a difficult problem for many to have too much free time. Being posted in countries where there are few job opportunities, especially in the last year with the hiring freeze, can be very difficult for both partners. My marriage was unhealthy prior to joining the State Department, so my divorce is not really completely related to serving in the Foreign Service; but serving overseas certainly hastened my decision to get out of it. There is much joy for the employed spouse living the life of a member of the Foreign Service. The job allows one to do many unique and interesting things. But when the non-working spouse has trouble making friends and fitting in, the excitement is one-sided. I’m much happier now. When I was in my marriage, I daily thought how much better it would be to be living alone. Mar- riage is not the solution to everything. I believe that a person needs to love themselves first. You should not be dependent on another for your happiness. –Senior-level FS specialist An Empowering Exercise I love the empowering exercise of mapping out a trajectory of next stops in my career that need no further internal “clear- ance” on the homefront beyond my own. And although it is true that being single in the Foreign Ser- vice may mean no traveling support system, digital technology enables the virtual immediacy of friends and family, whatever my coordinates. Linguistically, being single also offers an opportunity to progress in a foreign language as intensively as one’s curiosity dictates. –Mid-level public diplomacy officer The Family Liaison Office supports “all members of the Foreign Service ‘family,’ including single employees overseas, most often in the areas of crisis management, evacuations, unaccompanied tours and, of course, through our worldwide CLO program.” You can reach FLO at— Email: Webpages: Foreign Service Life; Crisis Management Services; Unaccompanied Tours Support. Resources from FLO