Staying Present


barra de santiago, sunset, el salvador, ahuachapán, beach, playaRight now, I am trying not to think about Afghanistan. We still have several months left to enjoy in El Salvador. I’m not letting myself think about what to pack and consumables shipments and wardrobe decisions and the million other questions I know I will have as we get closer to our arrival date. I am trying to mentally steel myself for the worst while at the same time trying to remain hopeful for the best.Key word: trying.I find myself contemplating a purchase (clothing, household item, what have you) and thinking, Would I bring this to Afghanistan, or would it sit in storage for a year? (Kail is pleased at this newfound shopping hesitation.)I imagine this happens for a lot of people, at any post, regardless of your next one. You get to where you have under a year left, when you’ll be arriving to your next post in the same calendar year — and possibly bidding for the following onward assignment, too — and you uninvest yourself, slowly but surely.“Checking out” is perhaps too strong a phrase (especially when it comes to work — obviously, we are all 100% checked in until the day we leave), but you start to make mental room for upcoming responsibilities. For working EFMs, a job search can never happen too early.Fortunately, I have obtained employment in Kabul (when did I start looking into jobs? The day Kail got his assignment). The other day, however, I found myself contemplating post-Afghanistan work. We don’t even know where we are going yet.Granted, I was perusing posts in a Facebook group related to EFM networking, but still. The sense of relief I felt at not having to think about career options at my next post was slightly dampened by the nagging thought that around the time we are heading to Afghanistan — or not long after we arrive — I’d have to go through the whole exercise again.I don’t know if I’m ever going to have as easy of a time finding not one, but two jobs as I did here in El Salvador. Everything lined up for me here — timing, language ability, my specific professional background and experience. Beyond my freakish luck securing gainful employment, I think the odds are in one’s favor to find a job as an EFM in El Salvador. That definitely won’t be true everywhere else.But that’s another post for another day. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my work and time left in El Salvador — trying not to think about Afghanistan, or what comes next, or what comes after that. You know, being here now.How do you stay present, knowing a big life change is coming up?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

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