I'M THE LONELY DIPLOMAT
Why am I here?
I've had four diplomatic postings: two postings as the posted diplomat (Ho Chi Minh City and Seoul), and two as an accompanying spouse (Caracas and Wellington).
I'm so grateful for the many amazing experiences I've had during my 21-year career. But it's not the glamorous career imagined by many outside the profession.
I knew that I was living my dream. I got to live and work overseas, multiple times, while representing my country and advancing its interests internationally. My career was going places and I knew I had a loving family. If I was living my dream, why did I feel so empty and lonely?
I was adrift. I felt isolated from my family and my friends. I was focused on what was next, worried about what others thought of me, saying and doing the right things at the right time to the right people to get ahead.
I had no one routinely in my life who knew me longer than my wife. I no longer knew who I was. What happened to that young, idealistic me? Where did he go? Was this all there was ever going to be to my life? Emails? Cables? Visits? Meetings? Travel?
I sought help, but found that the best help and advice come from other diplomats who understood what I was going through. With the help of an awesome community, some real conversations and courage, I did a lot of work within myself and now I know who I am and what's important to me.
Through four postings I know what it's like to be the diplomat AND to put my career on hold, be the primary carer for our children, negotiate the end of a relationship (former spouses can be treated appallingly by the diplomat's employing agency) and work through issues arising from accepting my sexuality all while experiencing the many other aspects of this diplomatic life over which I have very little control.
This diplomatic life doesn't mean that life stops or that life is perfect: life happens far from home and away from our loved ones.
Through my central themes, I'm here to help other diplomats and those living the diplomatic life. I've been in the hole. I know a way out.
Why are you here?
I know that many other diplomats and their families - maybe even you - feel the same way. You may feel it's time for a major change - anything from a new look, a new car, a grand adventure, through to a new job or even a new spouse. You think of doing anything to break out of the rut and stop feeling so lonely or disconnected.
Before you do anything, know that change is great, but we must know why we want to make it for it to be meaningful.
I'm here to help. You're not alone.
Who am I?
I’m a country boy with a city education and can naturally adapt my communication style depending on with whom I’m speaking. This puts others at ease and helps me feel at home in the world.
I set about living my life collaboratively by bringing people together using my steely determination and a dry sense of humour. I’m committed to challenging myself, others and the status quo. I’m an enigma: I’m an extrovert who loves being alone; an introvert who loves laughing with friends and, in the end, am always happy that I went to that party; a bureaucrat who can’t stand bureaucracy; a perfectionist who has no patience for details; driven but always seeking to have fun along the way.
I love moving and finding out what I’m physically able to do. I love feeling better now than when I was 20 years old. I love that I love swimming, running, cycling, lifting heavy things in a gym and eating well.
I love my children, my partner and my family and friends. I watch in awe and wonder as they each experience their world and work out how to give it the best of themselves.
I’m never far away from my eclectic music collection and it provides the soundtrack to my life. Photography connects me to life around me and be in the moment, even if my somewhat tragic selfie obsession frustrates my family! I’m always on the lookout for a photo opportunity around me – the sky, a building, a quirky sign or people just doing their thing. My photos and music are my connections to people, places, events and feelings.
I’m socially progressive and financially conservative. It upsets me to witness and experience injustice and unfairness. Laziness, intolerance and people being inconsiderate of others make me mad and moves me to action.
I’m determined to not let life pass me by. My inquisitive nature compels me to know what’s over the horizon or around the next corner. I want to keep learning about myself and others and experiencing new cultures, societies and ways of thinking. All this combined fuels my passion for travel, and when I’m not planning our next adventure, I’m doing so in my mind as I fly simulated planes to destinations around the world for hours on end.
I love learning languages, because I appreciate the insight they give me on how people think about things and view the world. I often laugh when I become horribly confused when trying to remember the right words in the right language at the right time.
I want to let my light shine brightly, uncovered and uncluttered by needless stuff. I’m embracing minimalism. It not only has practical lifestyle advantages for a diplomat who moves houses every three years, it’s forcing me to critically assess my place in the modern consumer society. The idea of using only what’s needed and embracing simplicity appeals to me deeply. It’s awakening an environmental consciousness that I’m eager to explore. This won’t have me living in a cave on a remote hillside; rather living well within my means, being aware that my actions and decisions have consequences and leaving more time and energy for what’s important: me, my family and friends and making a positive contribution to the world.
We need help as we work to reconnect
to ourselves and the world around us
We can't go through the process of reconnecting with ourselves and the world around us alone. Trust me, I tried. I read all the books. I searched the internet. There's no magic solution. We must dig deep, get brave and ask for help.
It's an honour to serve, support, challenge and inspire you through my blog, my podcast and services.
Who better to provide that help and perspective to lead your diplomatic life than someone who's lived it?
Need my help? Find out more here.
Image: smb creative