Your Comfort Zone is Imaginary

Bidding Season.

It’s fun, it’s stressful, it’s painful, it’s important, it’s inevitable.  This time around we have a bit more say in where we are posted and Max and I keep an ever changing list of available jobs on our refrigerator.  We have developed a few criteria that we
think are most important to us and we’ve been trying to evaluate positions based on that.  We’ve been trying to stop ourselves from saying things like “yeah, but that doesn’t sound fun” or “yeah, but It looks drab/boring/small/big/difficult”.   If it matches the criteria, it’s in the pool and we think about it. Basta.  Halas.  We are getting better at not tossing places out at first glance, but at first dismissed entire countries just on hunches.    

Location isn’t really one of our criteria and that is causing a bit of mental discomfort.  

It’s remarkable how comfortable you become with the idea of yourself based on location. We are Max and Brooke.  We live in the Middle East.  It’s become so much a part of how I identify and understand myself that the idea of living in other regions, while mostly exciting is also partly terrifying.  Who are Max and Brooke in Asia?  In Europe? In Africa? In South America? Not to mention questions like what do people eat/wear/think/value/speak in Asia/Europe/Africa/South America?  What are the historical/political/social factors that make up society in Asia/Europe/Africa/South America?  We will have to develop completely new tools of navigation.    

At different points in this process we have found ourselves really interested in a few posts and became comfortable with the idea of our future life among their palm trees/skyscrapers/snow clouds/curries.  Over a matter of weeks what was once foreign nestles in our brain and feels a little more do-able.  But as the jobs change we refine our criteria and new places emmerge, causing us to to go through the mental gymnastics of “getting right” with a host of new places all over again.  Where we are excited about changes daily as our braveness waxes and wanes.  And I am keenly aware that this is all mental at this point - the process of actually moving to one of these places and “getting right” in person will be much more intense and mentally stretching.  

My point is this:  I hope I have enough mental flexibility and strength of character to accept wherever we end up. Most days I think I will…but ask me again in 8 months.


  1. What an excellent quandary! I think this is the most exciting part of a life with the foreign service. All the possibilities, the chance to learn about and experience a new place and people make my imagination run wild. Whatever happens, I'm sure the next post will be an adventure.

  2. What an adventure! I'm excited to hear where you will end up next.