Surreal isn’t Strong Enough

I still pinch myself. Is this really happening? Am I moving to DC next week? Did I really land my dream job or is this some elaborate ruse being orchestrated by Secretary Kerry because his initials are JK? My fellow classmates and I have begun filling out a spreadsheet with a few details about ourselves. I have affectionately renamed this spreadsheet to: the “wow, everyone is way cooler than me” list. We have people who’ve worked for the UN, survived multiple Afghanistan deployments, practiced law all over the world, and someone who has published a book. So far only 13% of us do NOT have a graduate degree. The people with graduate degrees have graduated from universities I’d be afraid to even step on the campus. It’s all a little intimidating and still surreal. Who are these people and why on Earth am I in the same class as them. Surely there must be a mistake.

And then I snap out of it and remember that, damnit I’m cool too! I may not have the credentials like everyone else, but I worked as a cashier at Whole Foods. They don’t let uncool people work there, clearly, have you ever shopped there? We all had to pass the same tests to get into the Foreign Service. I just hope that I can scrap my fluency in Redneck before class starts, so no one will question how I passed with this piss poor English. Luckily, part of the training is how to write like a diplomat. Then after those six weeks, I’ll be learning a new language anyway. Come on English, don’t fail me now!

I do still wonder how I managed to do this. The sheer odds of getting into the Foreign Service are incredible. You want to be president? You have better odds than joining the Foreign Service. Of the 20,000 who apply each year to be a Foreign Service Officer, only 2% make it. In 2012, there were 12 Republican candidates for President. Tack on President Obama and that gives you a 7.7% chance of scoring a seat in the White House. Yes, I understand I’m just manipulating numbers which are far too variable to really provide a strong comparison, but whatever, 2% makes me feel better when I go to sleep at night.

Part of me wants to prove that I deserve to be in that class, but the other part knows that I’ve already proven I deserve to be there. Ain’t no use in bragging about my accomplishments when everyone surrounding me has pretty awesome ones too. (Oh dear lord my English! Heaven help me.) I’ve just got to wrap my head around the idea that I’m not just coming to learn about the Foreign Service, I’m coming to learn from my fellow classmates. My two study buddies from the Oral Assessment have credentials that would make any resume instantly turn into gold, but they don’t intimidate me. They are just normal men who’ve done pretty fantastic things. I’ve learned a lot from them, clearly, they helped me pass my oral assessment! And I think I’ve taught them some things too.

Now I’ve just got to figure out a good mingling opening line:
”Hi, I’m not anywhere as cool as you. Please tell me all about yourself.”
“I read your bio online and know that you went to Johns Hopkins and love yoga. Can we be friends?”
”Hi, I spent two years in a town in West Africa eating with my hands and learning how to hand wash my clothes like a pro, please tell me more about your experience working on refugee and immigration issues.”
“Woot! Another Peace Corps Volunteer, so tell me, worst disease you got. Go! Also, do you feel like no one understands you anymore? Can we talk about our readjustment feelings?”

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