What? Why are you talking about FSO again? I thought you were already an FSS? Didn't I read something about Flag Day and Orientation and good friends and some South American country already?
Yes, yes - I know I have some 'splaining to do.
I'll say! I don't know why anyone would want to put themselves through that ordeal twice!
Well, with any luck, this will be the LAST time. But if you've got a sec, here's my story. It's a long story, but a common enough one that makes it worth sharing:
Okay, exactly two years ago I decided that the Foreign Service was a life for me, and specifically that I wanted to hook my star to becoming a FS Consular Officer. In preparation for the FS Officer's Test (FSOT), I dedicated four months to studying, every day after work and all day on the weekends...
Oh, was that the summer when we actually had four brilliant months of sunshine? Didn't you want to go camping and hiking and river tubing instead of reading all about the Constitution and Economics and...?
Yes, yes that was the summer... Geez, just hush up and let me tell the story already!
So, I spent four months preparing: writing timed essays with a group, reading about all sorts of things that I'm fairly certain I slept through in US History in high school and certainly other things I never learned in the first place. But I took the FSOT in October and passed. Yippeeee!! But then the next stage, the Personal Narrative Questions (PNQs), reared its ugly head and required that I submit five simple essays on general topics from my life experience. In 1300 characters or less - including spaces. Easy right? Each word was chosen like a ripe peach, each sentence double and triple checked for meaning, clarity, descriptiveness - you get the idea. The whole package was carefully, lovingly even, submitted before the deadline. For the following months I read everything I could about life in the Foreign Service. I tried on this potential new life like a prom dress, examining it for fit from every angle and making sure that it matched well with Tim's tuxedo and cummerbund. I practiced my new signature: Caitlin - Foreign Service Officer. Where did we most want to go? Would we ever have a house with two bathrooms? Day dreams, night dreams and conversations with friends and family ad nauseum.
We get the picture. Well...what happened? Did you get past the PNQ stage? Did you get that golden ticket invitation to the Oral Assessment?
In keeping with my prom theme - just picture me crying in the ladies' room as my date flirted across the room with the smarter, prettier girl.
Yeah, I got dumped.
Hard. And it wasn't pretty.
But as in life, I met someone new shortly thereafter. Someone friendly, kind. Not quite as popular or flashy as my first love - but a great fit for my personality nonetheless. And his name was OMS - the Office Management Specialist. We had a lot in common, and so in early 2010, I decided to make it official and pursue this new suitor. By late August he responded positively and invited me to DC to meet his parents - things were really getting serious!
I think we can guess what happened...
Right, so I passed muster with OMS and his family and, well, yadda yadda yadda....now I'm at FSI learning Spanish.
So what does this have to do with the one who scorned you, the FSO Consular Officer? You didn't call him did you?
Yeah, it's been kinda' hard seeing him around FSI now. But here's the funny part, as soon as I didn't "need" him anymore - didn't he come crawling back?
"Oh will you forgive me? I'm so sorry; I didn't mean to hurt you. You're looking good, did you cut your hair or something? Who's this OMS person you've been hanging around with anyway? And who are all these new friends you're always going on and on about?"
I think you know what it's like. I'm human. I have memories of "how it all was..." before. I got weak and I gave in. I never threw away his number, and when he called out of the blue, asking me to come meet HIS parents yesterday... well, I went. Am I bad? I mean I LOVE OMS. We're such a great fit. My friends like him; he offers me so much choice, adventure. He's safe, he is friendly. But, but, but... maybe I just wanted to see that I could get FSO Consular Officer back. You know, even if I never even dated him again - just knowing that he wanted me and I could, if I wanted. Perhaps that's it. So yesterday found me all dressed up, telling my stories all over again. "Yeah, then I did this, and then I did that... blah blah blah." It was a long day, but in the end - he asked me back.
Well, do you feel satisfied with yourself now? How does OMS feel? Did you ever stop to think about someone other than yourself?
Actually, I think OMS understands. I mean, it was just an offer. I haven't accepted anything yet. I still have plans with OMS to go to Bogota and all. Heck, I'm excited to be with OMS! But, there's just that lingering feeling that maybe we'll eventually grow out of each other, and so, well, it's just good to know that I've got options. That's natural, right?
So, that's my story. Things worked out as they were meant to, and in the timing they were meant to have. I have the security of great OMS by my side and we're a good fit. But meanwhile, it feels good to know that Consular Officer hasn't forgotten about me and is still out there as a misty possibility. My story is not a unique one; I'm sure there are many of you out there who've been scorned by the dashing Mr/Ms FSO and who are hesitant about putting themself "out there" again. I hope that you do try again. If you ever want to swap stories - drop me a line and I'd be happy to share.
Meanwhile - take care and remember that it's all worth it in the end.