What I’m waiting for now

The process of joining the Foreign Service involves a lot of waiting. Apply to take the test, wait for an invitation. Take the test, wait for your score. Send in your personal narratives, wait for the results. And so on.

Since accepting the offer last week, there is a new step to wait for: the salary letter. I had to send in an updated resume (so my education and work experience can be calculated) and documentation of my current salary (so that the salary offer can be adjusted as possible to match my current salary). That had to go in ASAP, of course, but now there is more waiting. I’m waiting for the registrar’s office to calculate which of the 126 pay rates I should be awarded, based on my work experience and education. Rumor has it that I will hear back in about two weeks.

I’ve learned, over this 18-month journey, that dwelling on what I’m waiting for is not productive. I have to tell myself that it is out of my hands now, and I have to be patient. Keeping busy with other things helps. Setting small goals helps take my mind off the wait. Jerry Seinfeld’s trick about not breaking the chain is a good trick. The idea is to commit to doing something every day, and see how long you can keep it up. The more days in a row you do it, the longer the chain. Eventually, the chain gets so long that you hate to break it, and that becomes a motivation to keep going. I have chosen two challenges. One is to exercise every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas (so far, on target). The other challenge is to practice writing Chinese every day to improve my reading and writing. That chain gets broken a lot. I will commit to lengthening that chain.

And I will try hard not to think about the wait.


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