When Returning Home Doesn't Feel Like Home
I have been posted abroad for over 13 years; in these years I’ve been in three different locations all within the United States. My last assignment was at our Embassy in Washington, and after spending almost eight years in intense, around the clock consular posts with its respective schedules, the change of pace and topics was a welcome change. However, just when I felt I had grasped the right balance between work and life, the opportunity of a promotion in Mexico surfaced, and combined with the fact I was due back in the following rotation, it was next to impossible to say no. You know you can get the call any moment, that’s “part of the job”, but you’re never prepared for it and it’ll never be easy to pick-up and “start” again. I’m heading back to my home country, but “home” has acquired a very different definition for me.
Now, home is not only where my childhood memories were created, the place where I was born and where part of my family is; it's no longer the place I once envisioned of retiring or settling in. Home is now a feeling and sense of contentment that I have with the life I have created; it’s the opportunity I’ve had of discovering myself in different aspects of life, learning new things like rowing and playing rugby or catching a plane and having adventures with my sister who also lives abroad. And, being open about my sexual orientation in every aspect of my life. More importantly, home has distinctly become living and not working. Similarly, family now encompasses the friendships I’ve created at a later stage in life with people with whom I’ve shared this new sense of well-being and of recognizing that as much as we can be passionate about our jobs, what counts is what happens outside office hours. These are the people and relationships that have helped me rediscover myself and to visualize the type of person and life I want.
Thus with this last transfer, it’s not only the physical relocation that generates a sense of instability, or the responsibilities of the new position in itself, but the feeling of leaving the you that finally made sense. I was living in the present, but started planning a solid future. Certainly the aspect of reconnecting with family and childhood friends is a unique gift that I am most grateful for and that I will certainly make the most of as I now have the opportunity to relive my hometown as an out lesbian, which will prove fascinating. Nonetheless, in the back of my mind, I can’t shake the feeling that I was content where I was, and this doesn’t only mean a location or post, but the person I was able to become. The challenge of having a new position with more responsibility is certainly a big factor and a tremendous challenge I’m ready to assume; but the main challenge is to find the balance between the diplomat I aspire to be, and the personal life I desire.
Written by Vanessa, Mexican Foreign Service