Friday, May 19, 2023

After-Work Events Galore

Whether we're overseas or in Washington, DC, Foreign Service folks have plenty of opportunities to attend after-work events. Sometimes these are required, sometimes they are purely for fun, but many of them fall somewhere in between. The event might be optional but it's a good opportunity to network, build contacts, and pursue professional development. So although you don't have to go out every single night, there are personal and professional advantages to putting yourself out there (and on the flip side there are costs for skipping too frequently).

Recently, I've had the opportunity to attend a lot of after-work events that cut across these categories. I'll highlight three of them here. First, I attended a cocktail dinner for the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association, of which I'm a member. It was not a command performance by any means, but I'm so glad I attended because I connected with some of my favorite colleagues, met new folks from other organizations outside of the State Department with fresh perspectives on Asian American advocacy that energized me, and even gained a new mentor and sponsor who's taken me under her wing. It was also very empowering to see the broad range of senior-level support from State Department officials, including phenomenal Asian American representation, at the event.

Just a couple of days later, I attended the Global Good Fund annual gala with my sister who was visiting from out of town. My friend L gifted me a ticket since he was unable to go, and my sister and I split the cost of a second ticket. The charity event drew an amazing crowd of social entrepreneurs and philanthropists and featured a guest of honor who is a pioneer in sustainable fashion, Autumn Adeigbo. We were blown away by the brilliant and innovative entrepreneurs from around the world whose projects save and transform countless lives. It was a special night, and I was thrilled to support the great work the Global Good Fund does.

The following week, I took a night with just M so we could go on a date at the relatively new Capital One Hall. We saw Cosmic Cycles, a special performance by the National Philharmonic of Henry Dehlinger-composed music inspired by our explorations of outer space and set to a selection of images, videos, illustrations, and data visualizations of Earth and the universe. (I especially loved the section on Earth, which you can watch online.) It was such a cool collaboration between NASA, the private sector, and the artists.

These events come at a cost that I don't want to diminish: these past few weeks, I've had less time with baby S, less time for my hobbies like reading (and writing blog posts), and less sleep than I like. A really important aspect of a successful career in any high-intensity field like diplomacy, though, is rigorous prioritization and time management. My two cents are that even if you haven't been great about defining your priorities and setting boundaries in the past, it's never too late to start. Some weeks you may have a lot of after-work events, and others you may need to cut back and say no more often to save your energy for the next wave. I loved all the events I attended recently, but I'm looking forward to a bit of rest and quality time with my family that I only get when I'm home.