Monday, August 17, 2009

Insider Quote: Dealing with Stress

First editionImage via Wikipedia

Q: So, what is the classic way that the Foreign Service deals with stress?

KOTULA: You just stiff upper lip and "that's the way it is." There's this dualism again. You know, "this is the way it is" and a number of people in the Service say, "Oh, this is exciting, this is why I joined the Foreign Service, this is where it's at, this is where the action's happening." But there is an opposite side. They don't deal with the real terror and how frightening a lot of this is. How can you say... there's a stuffed feelin(she laughs) -- I'm out there waving the flag, I'm showing the best there is of our country, and you're not "allowed" to have feelings of being scared to hell, you're not allowed to own the negative parts of it.

Q: And nobody gives you any help in interpreting them and working through them?

KOTULA: They give you help fixing you up after you(laughing) fall to pieces, but- (she trails off in laughter).

The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training | Spouse Series | Frontline Diplomacy, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Excerpted from Interview with Kotula, Ruth Enslie Art Teacher and Professional Artist (FS Spouse 1966-1989) Digital ID: