Jump to content

Menu

When long shot dreams are shot


lauraw4321
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have dreamt since college of being a foreign service officer. I thought about it all through law school. I thought about it the past 8 years when I've been in and out of work as a lawyer. I've thought about it as I've watched my SIL have a fulfilling career as a foreign service officer.

 

I finally decided that I had to at least try. I took the multiple-choice exam (without studying, but then it plays to my academic strengths) and did well.  I passed. My essay was graded.  I was invited to submit personal narratives. 

 

Today I got the e-mail that I was not selected to proceed to the next level of interviewing.

 

I'm not surprised. But I had hoped. Really hoped. It seemed so exciting to dream about - living in a foreign country. Doing real public diplomacy and public policy work. 

 

I know that I won't apply again, or at least not for a long time. I feel like there's nothing more for me to dream about. There's nothing to look forward to. Just year after year of being a SAHM, volunteer in suburbia. I want to go back to work, but nothing here even remotely compares with foreign service officer. 

 

I know it was stupid to hope so much. I'm just really sad and disappointed. I'm throwing a self-pity party which is an extremely ugly thing to do. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fair question, maize. Mostly because it's stressful and it will be harder and harder to uproot my family away from school as they get older. And because my DH really doesn't do well with uncertainty (i.e. we *may* be moving to *some* foreign country *somewhere in the world - could be anywhere* sometime in the next year). That's really hard for him to handle.

 

ETA: It took me about a year for him to be ok with me trying this time.

Edited by lauraw4321
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My bil took the test 4 times and finally went to a foreign country to immerse himself in a language so that he would have what it took to pass the language exam. In dh's grad program, you had to pass the GRE subject test with a certain score to go from the master's to the doctoral level. Our neighbor took it 5 times before she passed. 

Can you ask the people who eval'd the personal narratives for feedback? Can you gather info about what they are looking for/ why you were not accepted? 

 

Re-group, grieve this loss and then either re-commit or re-focus. 

 

I admire your dream! All the best to you!!

 

 

Edited by laughing lioness
  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ambassadors are frequently hired from people who heavily raise funds for a winning presidential campaign and party.

 

Any chance you could suddenly get passionate about raising millions of dollars for the candidate you think is most likely to win?

 

 

All jokes aside, chances are they looked at you and decided you wouldn't really be interested or you would have applied before.   Try, try again, this time with more languages.  Try an exotic language.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It does not sound like you prepared for the examination or what followed. If I misunderstood that, please forgive me.  The son of one my cousins became an Attorney. He worked as an Attorney for a few years and he hated that. He became an FBI Agent and now he's happy.

 

I think you may have an unrealistic idea about what the work would be like.  They move every 2 or 3 years. If they are lucky, they are sent to a country like Colombia. If they are unlucky, they are sent to Iraq, or other countries, where Americans are not liked.  Since you know someone (MIL?) who is in that line of work, hopefully, you have heard the pros and cons.  

 

I attended a meeting for U.S. Citizens in Cali, probably about 6 years ago and the "Consul" (the #1 person) was one of the 3 people who came from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.  He had moved from Japan, so he did really well, with back to back assignments in 2 countries that are high on the desirable list.   He was an Attorney. I remember he was planning to take his family on vacation on our Caribbean Coast, driving several hundred miles. Someone of that importance, does not have that freedom, in many countries.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lanny - I passed the exam without studying. Passed very well, in fact, because it's in my wheelhouse of knowledge. I've received information that the DoS will only be hiring something like 200 people this entire year for various reasons.  It was a highly competitive year.

 

My sister in law is a FSO, so I probably have a much better understanding what life is like for them. I know about hazard assignments to places like Iraq. 

 

It was still my dream despite that. So, please don't try and say that I have an unrealistic idea of what the job would be like. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 I'm throwing a self-pity party which is an extremely ugly thing to do. 

 

It's ok to throw a pity party.  It really is.  It is natural to want to grieve when something doesn't work out.  Just put a time limit on it.  I like 3 days, but definitely no more than a week.  While you are in pity party mode, I suggest NOT thinking about (or at least not deciding) what you want to do next.  You won't be in the right head space for good decisions.

 

:grouphug:  I'm sorry you didn't get what you wanted this time.  It sucks.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:  :crying:

 

That's really hard when you have a dream and it isn't panning out, at least not right now.  It makes it harder to keep going each day without that dream in the background kind of spurring you forward.

 

I realize that FSO is your big one and not getting it right now is painful.  There are other options for working overseas, though, that might take some of the pain away.  Have you explored other choices?  Maybe there is a career field that would fulfill your dreams still...and actually help you later with FSO acceptance if you chose to apply again at some future date.  If you were able to research other possibilities that might help right now with your emotional state while also giving you real concrete choices for other exciting things you could do (although I recognize that you probably need a grieving period, too).

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If there were really only 200 people, there are probably a significant number who have personal connections to someone who wrote recommendations.  I know that shouldn't happen, but it does.  After that there were probably lots of people who just had more points than you - people who have multiple degrees including law and international relations and military intelligence experience. Besides, I'm under the impression that a significant number of those jobs aren't real, but are covert intelligence jobs.  So there may have been many less available than you think.

 

If you really want to do it, just try again.  There will probably be a lot of turn over in the next two years, because there often is around presidential elections.  Especially when it's pretty clear either of the remaining candidates will have dramatically different foreign & military policy stances than the current administration.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plenty of people get hired the first time.

My friend did. She had just gotten her PhD in English from University of Chicago, and decided that continuing the academic life was not for her. She applied and was picked right away. I was one of her references (fun to tell my boss that I had to take a break to speak to someone from the State Dept. or whatever it was :-) )

 

From her experience, I gather newbies get the posts no one else really wants, so be prepared to accept postings in 3rd world countries etc. Newbies usually don't get the plum posts that everyone thinks about when daydreaming about the Foreign Service..

Edited by JFSinIL
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a number of friends who have gone the Foreign Service route.  A few got in on the first round of interviews, but most got in on the second.  Some went a different route outside of FSO to get into a similar position, either through NGOs or via other state agencies.

 

It sounds like you're looking for meaningful work? Have you been able to articulate your dream specifically about what is meaningful or impactful for you?

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's ok to throw a pity party.  It really is.  It is natural to want to grieve when something doesn't work out.  Just put a time limit on it.  I like 3 days, but definitely no more than a week.  While you are in pity party mode, I suggest NOT thinking about (or at least not deciding) what you want to do next.  You won't be in the right head space for good decisions.

 

:grouphug:  I'm sorry you didn't get what you wanted this time.  It sucks.

 

:iagree:

 

I think your reasons for not trying again are very sound, but take a few days to mourn before thinking about the next possibility. 

 

Yes, you have many years left of being a mom, but your youngest will soon exit toddlerhood and become a (somewhat) rational human being. I found life much easier once I was no longer endlessly strapping car seats and wiping butts, lol. 

 

Give yourself room to grieve the loss of a dream, and then you will be able to see that life is full of possibilities. It's not a choice between foreign service officer and SAHM in the suburbs. 

 

Best of luck to you!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think I understand this situation at all. 


If it was the right time to apply now, why wouldn't it be later?  Having got the job would have meant moving, uncertainty, uprooting your family numerous times in the next 20 years so this 

 


Mostly because it's stressful and it will be harder and harder to uproot my family away from school as they get older.

 

 

 makes no sense to me. It is MORE stressful to have the job & be working in it than it is to *apply* for it. SO it sounds like getting it would have been worse. 


From the outside, I'm wondering if what you're experiencing is grief that your dh is not supporting your dreams ? 

 

Edited by hornblower
  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have dreamt since college of being a foreign service officer. I thought about it all through law school. I thought about it the past 8 years when I've been in and out of work as a lawyer. I've thought about it as I've watched my SIL have a fulfilling career as a foreign service officer.

 

I finally decided that I had to at least try. I took the multiple-choice exam (without studying, but then it plays to my academic strengths) and did well.  I passed. My essay was graded.  I was invited to submit personal narratives. 

 

Today I got the e-mail that I was not selected to proceed to the next level of interviewing.

 

I'm not surprised. But I had hoped. Really hoped. It seemed so exciting to dream about - living in a foreign country. Doing real public diplomacy and public policy work. 

 

I know that I won't apply again, or at least not for a long time. I feel like there's nothing more for me to dream about. There's nothing to look forward to. Just year after year of being a SAHM, volunteer in suburbia. I want to go back to work, but nothing here even remotely compares with foreign service officer. 

 

I know it was stupid to hope so much. I'm just really sad and disappointed. I'm throwing a self-pity party which is an extremely ugly thing to do. 

 

I'm sorry.   Can you try again?  Maybe you can just submit it every year until they hire you! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Certainly you could try again, but this the family issues are a concern. If you DH isn't on board, I'd be very, very reluctant.

 

There are plenty of dreams in life that can't be fulfilled. Spoken as a middle-aged woman with a list of things I wanted to do and likely never will, but it's just reality.  

 

Years ago, before family, I was offered an overseas slot with a branch of the UN. But the more I talked to people about it, the more it seemed like a poor fit for me at that time both in terms of the work and location. Instead I completely changed my career focus, moved across the country, and met DH. That was the right choice for me.

 

Lanny is right too. The reality is that many of the posts are pretty rough, and some are very hard on families. You give up a level of self-autonomy that is sometimes difficult to manage. Many of the early-career slots are purely as paper-pushers within the embassy. Not much to talk about really, but you have to prove yourself to move up.

Edited by G5052
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Two posters made good points. I long for meaningful work. FS interests and excites me for myriad reasons. I'm patriotic and love the idea of serving my country. John Adams and JQA are personal heroes. I majored in International Relations and Spanish undergrad. I found the day to day work of diplomats fascinating.

 

My DH has no desire for the FS lifestyle. I convinced him to let me try once. He said if I got accepted he would take it a a sign and get on board.

 

So yes, I'm mourning the fact my DH doesn't share in my dreams. And I'm mourning the loss of a fulfilling job. I don't know of any thing that would compare.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, I have a similar background (IR major, languages, lived abroad, J.D.) and I've found local opportunities to serve outside of the framework of working as an attorney.  These things appeal to me: guardian ad litem work, CASA volunteer, working with relocated refugees, coordinating donations to current refugees, etc.  I'm not up for doing Lawyers Without Borders, but there are short term volunteer stints that you can do here or abroad.

 

I have found peace in being at home with my kids, who desperately need me, and working within my local sphere of influence.  My dreams have changed, but I went through a crisis when my kids were about your kids age.  Parenting all littles about did me in.  Looking back, it was growing pains as I was being stretched into a new phase of life.  At the time I felt like I was drowning. I really needed to find balance in my life.  I came to it, eventually, and I work hard to maintain some time away for me to read and think and do.  Are there local advocacy opportunities that appeal to you?  Vulnerable populations appeal to me, for others it might be building infrastructure or seeking justice.....hence my advice to dig at what really appeals to you.

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you want a JAWM, please ignore the following. But if you're willing to think about trying again, here is some perspective.

 

As others have said, it's very common for people to try several times to get into the Foreign Service. There is no stigma if you get in on the third try versus the first. No one cares.

 

A lot of people pass the FSOT but don't get past the personal narrative. It helps to get some tips on what they're looking for. Trying again to do better on the personal narrative isn't a huge commitment - not like going to the oral assessment. There are online resources with advice about the personal narrative.

 

If you do try again and get to the oral assessment, there are some really good resource online for practicing.

 

You also can apply again in a different cone, particularly consular if you're open to that. If you speak a needed language you can apply for a five-year consular appointment which can be a really good option for some people.

 

Like you said, it's harder to get hired in low-hiring years. But that makes no difference in who passes the test or gets chosen for the oral assessment. It just means the pool of people who've made it through the process (including security and background checks) and are waiting to get an offer is larger. That's where oral assessment prep is so valuable, as is language, especially a difficult language, because those move you up the list.

 

There is no question at all that a highly mobile international lifestyle can be challenging for a family. Some FSOs quit because of that. Some quit for lots of other reasons. But the State Department provides a huge amount of support for families and it's one of the easiest ways to be internationally mobile.

 

In short, if you really want this, I'd encourage you to try again. Actually, my biggest concern would be your dh's reluctance, but I think it's reasonable to ask a spouse to support a strongly-held dream that you've had as long as he's known you (I'm just assuming here).

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes one needs to feel sad and pitiful for a bit before regrouping. Here's an old favorite, Poor Poor Pitiful Me...

 

 

For further irony,the long haired solo guitarist in that video looks like and almost certainly is Warren Zevon, the author and original performer of that song.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am an attorney as well, and only was able to do the SAHM thing full time for about 15 months.

Listen, it's not all or nothing. It's not "I wake up each morning and know exactly the collection of chores and struggles with no point that await me, down to the minute" or "high flying diplomat with all one's career dreams fulfilled" (my dream was not diplomat, but you get my point.)

Throw your pity party, and then find your middle. Then find it again.

also--what if you had passed? I mean would your family be up for being uprooted right now? Were you perhaps just looking to pass as validation for something? I mean I look for that sort of thing all the time so I understand.

Edited by madteaparty
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry you're grieving the loss of this very long held and very important dream. :grouphug:

 

If you say this was your one shot, and now it's over with - I believe you, and share in your grief.

 

I will share that as a spouse, I was once in the same position as your husband - down to the "if x, then I'll take it as a sign."  It's a bit of a cop-out, isn't it? But his career choice would have uprooted us all multiple times internationally, whereas I had a career and close family locally - neither of which I felt it was fair or reasonable to give up. I had no interest living where he was able to bring us.

 

In the end I left the decision up to my husband, but he felt he had no room to act given my crystal clear non-supportive feelings on the matter. It caused a wedge between us, and a few years later he ended up going ahead with his dream anyhow - this time, with my (admittedly marginal) support. My regret is that we didn't come together to work through an issue that we both felt strongly about. Instead I dug in my heels, and watched his resentment and sadness spill over into our home life. I won the battle in that he stayed "home" and we maintained the status quo; I lost the war in that I lost a big part of him - and what I loved about him - in the process.

 

The thing is, had he chosen to go the first time it would have been me in those shoes - a shell of myself having had to give up my own dreams and priorities to live out his. So whose dreams win out? It's hard. It's marriage.

 

I share this in hopes that once this initial wave of feelings pass, you'll re-group and re-visit the subject with him. It may be that once you've properly grieved the loss of your longtime dream, you'll be open to related opportunities that didn't previously register because they weren't your one, true dream - opportunities he may be more open to. Or it may be that once you grieve this loss, his eyes will be opened to how important it is to you and he'll grow more open to a compromise of sorts - maybe a second attempt at testing, or a fixed year commitment.

 

However the story ends, I hear your sadness and I'm sorry for it. But please don't believe you were stupid to hope. If anything, you know now how important HOPE is to our psyche and emotional health. Call it a "pity party" if you want, but you're not wrong for taking time to grieve this loss.

 

 

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for sharing that story, Tita. 

 

I feel that I have sacrificed much more than he has in our marriage (in terms of career and life goals), and this was sort of my one shot at evening the score a bit.

 

I typed out a lot, but it sounds like spouse-bashing. I love him; I love our daughters. But I don't always love what my life has become and how limited I feel. I feel hopeless. And I don't want to blow up my marriage because I love him, and he's a wonderful father and provider.

 

I don't want to go back into private practice because I live in a good ol' boy town and I HATED working in that environment (one of very few women, and I was never EVER an equal). I don't want to start my own law firm again because it's so much pressure and so many more hours. I don't want to just volunteer because my time is seriously valuable and I'd like to be able to contribute to my family.

 

Yeah, like I said. Ugly pity-party. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are there other ways to be a lawyer in your town? I'm in government, and at least where I am the hours are reasonable and there is real gender parity. Alas our hiring has been anemic for the last few years, but I wonder if there are other options.

 

We need a whole separate thread on being a lawyer and a mom...

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for sharing that story, Tita.

 

I feel that I have sacrificed much more than he has in our marriage (in terms of career and life goals), and this was sort of my one shot at evening the score a bit.

 

I typed out a lot, but it sounds like spouse-bashing. I love him; I love our daughters. But I don't always love what my life has become and how limited I feel. I feel hopeless. And I don't want to blow up my marriage because I love him, and he's a wonderful father and provider.

 

I don't want to go back into private practice because I live in a good ol' boy town and I HATED working in that environment (one of very few women, and I was never EVER an equal). I don't want to start my own law firm again because it's so much pressure and so many more hours. I don't want to just volunteer because my time is seriously valuable and I'd like to be able to contribute to my family.

 

Yeah, like I said. Ugly pity-party.

Again, you are entitled to your pity party (I am queen of them) and i'm familiar with those "feeling limited" choices. That goes under "things I wish they told me when I was younger" which are, at some point, you have to pick one career between the two of you and that kids need you more 5 and older than 5 and under :)

But to help you a little, if you are looking for help not feeling powerless: look how many choices you are making right now: no to volunteer work, don't want to do private practice, your kids get you and you get to raise them exactly as you wish... Those are not nothing!

Edited by madteaparty
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are some gov't lawyer positions here but they are very few and far between. And they are in FAR compliance, which isn't really...exciting.

 

Full time Legal aid positions here pay around $38,000. I can barely cover childcare with that.

 

I'm trying to brainstorm, but I'm not in an optimistic spot right now. 

 

I do appreciate people's input. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can I suggest something?  I think you should have a couple of sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy.  To help you think through some of the logical errors in your thinking. To help you identify other job options or even hobbies that could give you some of the same feelings you think you'll get from service.  To help reconcile your feelings about sacrificing more than your DH so you can let go of any frustrations & regrets you have in order to be happier and/or know how to confront him about something that is legitimately bothering you without blowing up your marriage.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 I feel like there's nothing more for me to dream about. There's nothing to look forward to. Just year after year of being a SAHM, volunteer in suburbia.

 

 

You sound not just disappointed, but depressed.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not over until it's over.  I always wanted to be in the FBI. I literally posted my application to Quantico and then went to the doctor for what I thought was a bout of the stomach flu.  Turns out I was pregnant.  Making the call to withdraw my application was the most painful thing I had had to do up to that point in my life.  I always harbored the dream that I would reapply when life presented an opportunity.  When that time came, I was too old. I also had no 'in' due to special skills or talents.  That's when a long shot dream is shot.  If you still have  chance, take it.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can I suggest something?  I think you should have a couple of sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy.  To help you think through some of the logical errors in your thinking. To help you identify other job options or even hobbies that could give you some of the same feelings you think you'll get from service.  To help reconcile your feelings about sacrificing more than your DH so you can let go of any frustrations & regrets you have in order to be happier and/or know how to confront him about something that is legitimately bothering you without blowing up your marriage.

 

:iagree:   It really sounds like you have created a whole bunch of absolutes in your head (My dream is dead. This was my one shot to get even. My life has little meaning if I can't do x, y or z.) There isn't going to be much wiggle room for your dh, your dc or yourself to work with these kinds of absolutes.

Edited by wintermom
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does the foreign service feel like a compelling enough reason to justify going back to work? Because maybe you just need to go back to work. It doesn't have to be sexy work to be justified. Some people (myself included!) don't do well staying home. Are there options outside of law where you are?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For further irony,the long haired solo guitarist in that video looks like and almost certainly is Warren Zevon, the author and original performer of that song.

 

 

I noticed the camera zoomed in on him a lot. Now I know why. :D

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry it didn't work out this time.  You sound like a motivated person though, so once you are done with this grieving period, you'll be able to look for other worthy, interesting things to do (or apply again!).  My dh was on track for the foreign service, specifically in the Middle East.  (He had graduate degrees and spoke Arabic fluently.)  We did live in the Middle East for a time, and it was during that time that dh decided he could not raise his daughters there (if we had any -- that was pre-children).  I, on the other hand, thought it sounded exciting and wanted to give it a try!

 

In the end, he ended up throwing himself into all sorts of community projects over the years, and getting very involved in pro bono legal projects.  Later, he started his own business which he loved.

 

So, you never know.  As they say, one door closes and another one opens.  (Or maybe your dh will reconsider and you will apply again!)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are able to consider uprooting your family for a FSO job, what about a civil servant job at State? I know several lawyers who do interesting things, travel a fair amount, and have opportunities for tours overseas even though they are on the civil side.

 

Also, have you looked at other agencies? FSO's are a small portion of the staff at many embassies.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am looking to go back to work. I've been actively applying for about four months. I think Lawyer&Mom nailed it on the head - FSO is a compelling enough reason to go back to work. I guess in addition to supporting my family, I feel like my work should additionally be meaningful in some bigger sense of the word. Whatever that meaning is, I haven't been able to find it in available jobs here.

 

I have a lot of reasons not to want to live where we do at the moment, mostly involving my family of origin. And this thread made me realize that what I'm really feeling is resentment that we live here, because it's very good for my DH's career. Resentment is an even uglier emotion that self-pity (well, maybe they're tied).

 

I told DH that last night. He understands my FOO issues and basically said that he's ready for a change as well. So we're thinking about relocating, probably with his job and just for a year at first, to try the place out and see if we like it, within the next year. That restored my feelings of hope. No, it's not Mexico or China or Peru or Argentina. But it's someplace other than the deep south. 

 

I appreciate all of the feedback on this thread, and for letting me indulge in my pity party. If someone were throwing that kind of party IRL around me, I would have been seriously rolling my eyes at them. So, thanks for the honest and thoughtful feedback.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing you might want to think about in relation to future work (in the U.S.) is working with internationals. That can take a variety of approaches: working to help resettle refugees, college campus international student programs, teaching citizenship classes to prepare immigrants for the exams, etc. There is a lot more out there than people realize, I think. It might not involve actual travel, but could still be very satisfying. It can also be more prevalent in even rural areas than people realize. If you move, once you get settled (or maybe even before you move), go to a nearby university, major hospital complex, or local government, and ask questions to see what the needs are. Community language programs might can give you more information about the immigrant population in a given area and their needs. Just throwing out some ideas...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are able to consider uprooting your family for a FSO job, what about a civil servant job at State? I know several lawyers who do interesting things, travel a fair amount, and have opportunities for tours overseas even though they are on the civil side.

 

Also, have you looked at other agencies? FSO's are a small portion of the staff at many embassies.

 

I have a good friend from law school who was in the exact same position as you, OP, right down to the reluctant spouse.  He ended up working for USAID and living overseas on three different continents (and in the process had three children) doing basically the same type of work he would have done as an FSO. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...