Grace on Pace

Foreign Service Travel Orders

Foreign Service Travel Orders – Preparing For our Pack Out

Despite there being many signs before now that this change is actually “real”, receiving my official Foreign Service Travel Orders, meeting the movers yesterday for our pre-move survey, and working my last day at Sisler today, don’t get any more real.  In addition, a wonderful surprise farewell from the Harwood Youth Hockey Organization last night has made the last 24 hours very emotional.

As I sit here in my room full of boxes wondering if I am making the right choice, I have decided to research and write about the experience to get it on “paper” and hopefully be a little more at ease.   Apparently, going through this type of major life transition has five predictable stages.  The more I read and begin to understand what takes place in each of these stages the more prepared and appreciative I am that it is normal and is OK to have mixed emotions.

Involvement Stage – To an extent, I have been involved in the same community my whole life.  Despite going away to three different schools, I have always returned and continued to feel my friends, roles, responsibilities were here in Waterbury.  Vermont will always be home and I hope to continue my involvement here as much as possible.

Leaving Stage (Current) – Began the moment I was aware of my career change.  There has certainly been a separating and distancing from my roles, responsibilities and relationships.  All with mixed emotions – celebrations mixed with farewells.  Every conversation over the past few weeks with friends, family, and co-workers has been a bit sad as we prepare for being apart.

Foreign Service Travel Orders

Transition Stage – Starts the moment we will arrive in Washington DC. We expect this stage will be characterized by utter chaos. Everything will be new and different.  At first everything will probably be fun and exciting, but eventually things will begin to get on our nerves.  We will really need to focus on adjusting.  We will probably feel like we made the wrong choice and begin to think about coming home.

Entering Stage – Happens when we decide to finally settle in and become a part of our new place.  Most likely we will continue to have feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and ambiguity, but we will finally be committed to sticking it out and making it work.

Re-Involvement – Perhaps after visiting friends or family, when we arrive at our apartment and Washington actually feels like home.  We have our meaningful relationships, roles, and responsibilities back and we will finally know more than a newcomer.

After wrapping my head around the the five stages, I wondered about how the experience of moving compares to other major life events.  Apparently from the graph below,  I am at the highest (1st Child) and lowest points of my life (House Move) at the same time .  I still can’t decide if this is a good thing, but spending time with Esmei definitely cheers me up as I am packing up old pictures or deciding what to do with my crate of pucks collected since I was 9 years old.

Foreign Service Travel OrdersDeciding to undertake this type career, will certainly mean uprooting every few years.  My mom always tells me I read too much and can be a little bit too analytically, but for some reason I have always found comfort in graphs, statistics, and numbers.  One things for sure though, the next time we receive our Foreign Service Travel Orders I’ll have some real data on the experience of moving…


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Jeff Grace

I’d like to hope that when I leave this earth, my family and friends believe something about me giving as fully as I could. To the people I love and to the areas of culture that excited me to build things. Then a lot of dancing, loud music and talking about what an idiot I made of myself during that process.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Jeff, don’t look in the rear view mirror for the next few months, and don’t let your wandering mind override your good common sense…this is the next step to a great life for both you and your family (and win or lose, you won’t have the “woulda coulda shouda” regrets later in life). Enjoy the ride.

  • We will miss you terribly, Jeffrey, but know that the foreign service has been your dream since your youth. We will let you spread your wings but just remember to fly home often and bring Jennilou and Esmei with you.

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