I can do both. I can totally fly and freelance. I can fly and date. I can fly and blog and sleep enough and have friends and, and, and…
Yeah. Totally. I can do it all.
A subtle smirk spreads across my light skin, rolling past messy hair and tired eyes. “Yeah right” would be the correct answer to a superwoman mentality that adamantly determines to try to juggle multiple responsibilities amidst an airline schedule that is ever and forever changing, not to mention the ever demanding constant of jet lag. I don’t know about you, but I can’t do it all, and the last three months have piled up ample evidence to uncover the truth that my hours of “free time” are not as free as they may appear.
On paper, my 75 hours of flight time– which is considered full-time– would to a groundling, be a part-time job. Me, in my stupidity, certainly try to treat fly life as only part of my life, but who the hell are we kidding when we pretend that being in the airline industry is not all of our lives? Being a flight attendant does not define us, as what we do should never let what we do be our only definition of who we are, but this lifestyle does consume every single aspect of life.
Don’t believe this? Well honey, just give it some time and you’ll probably experience a moment when your job takes your personal existence and runs it through the ringer. I don’t want to believe that flying has its cons and has made me cry, but facts are facts and truth is truth. There will be a day when tears will flow over the fact that you missed your best friend’s birthday because scheduling reflowed you. You were supposed to be there and now, there is nothing you can do to change where you are. NOTHING. Except quit, but you love what you do, so you stay. You stay and you cry. Then you wipe the smudges of mascara off your stained face, putting in its place a beautiful smile. You’re once again the happy flight attendant. No one knows that inside, you don’t want to be here and go there. All you want to do is disappear and appear again at home with your friends. Yes. You know this life consumes you. And it also- sometimes- consumes the people around you too.
All are affected by scheduling’s changes and your decision to be gone, but you stay in flight attendant life because it’s definitely not all bad. It can actually be really good and most of the time, it is. You understand and so do they; the people in your world. If they can’t, you just can’t keep them in your life. Friends and boyfriends and husbands and girlfriends and wives learn a lot about what it takes to be a flight attendant and what it takes to love one. It’s can be all consuming. It’s wonderful and heartbreaking and weird. But thank God, it’s never boring. No one will ever accuse you- the flight attendant- of being boring. Too much? Maybe. Dull? Probably not even in your dreams.
I scrolled through my emails one last time before going through security at London Gatwick Airport. My hat donned, my hair as perfect as it would be for that day, and I think I remembered the bright red lip-stick. I noticed an email from the company I freelance write and manage social media accounts for. The email said, “URGENT” in big capital letters. I had made a mistake with an Instagram post and needed to change it immediately. The problem was, I was in flying mode and the wifi-connectivity at LGW was being ornery. I couldn’t do anything about the situation except to send two frantic text messages telling the account manager and editor that I was at the airport; flying. I wouldn’t be available for the next 1ohrs. That day, before my report to the London airport, I had attempted to smash in writing an article, writing a blog, breakfast, gym, packing, posting to three different social media accounts, lunch and being on time for pick-up. I was trying to do it all and what I had really wanted to do that day was stare at the ceiling and do nothing. There wasn’t time for me to focus on a freelance contract outside of flying as finding focus in this lifestyle is like telling a leopard to change their spots; impossible.
And yet, I was saying, “Don’t worry. I got this,” because if I didn’t “got this,” I was scared of being a failure, of fucking-up, of disappointing myself and everyone else. But, I really wasn’t doing my best outside of flying. Although it was the best that I could do in the moment, my heart wasn’t there and my mind was only halfway present. My time was being pulled in a million directions, so all I was doing was just barely screeching by. I secretly hoped that when I landed, my freelance “bosses” would send me an email saying, “I’m sorry, but we have to let you go. Your flying is consuming time that should be devoted to us.” What can I say? It’s the truth. This job consumes everything in my world. It basically is my world.
I think my writing managers and editors are letting me slide as I’m leaving them at the end of August anyway. I’m not leaving flying. I don’t have any desire to do that anymore. With all it’s craziness and all-consuming nature, I don’t mind being consumed. Instead of fighting having “no life,” all I want to do is throw myself heart-and-soul into all the wonderful things that flying is and the wonderful that it brings along with it. London, Copenhagen, New York. Blogging. I think it brings blogging with it too, and I really love blogging. It also brings you. The “yous” that I don’t know, but that know feeling the feels that I feel. The yous who tell me, “I totally get it.”
I am happy being all over the place. It makes me wrong for some, but I don’t want to change who I am. I realized something the other day while scribbling notes in my journal during a flight, and it was this:
The moment you realize that you aren’t actually good at everything, followed by the epiphany that you don’t want to be good at everything and that you just want to be good at you; that is finally when you find a freedom you had hoped to discover all along.
If I am ok with my entire life at this point being dictated by flying, it’s good. If I am happy, that’s good too. It’s not always nice or convenient being all over the map and tired a lot, but it’s better than some jobs and it’s the life that I choose to live right now. I’m looking forward to my layovers being free of writing deadlines and social media schedules that have dictated so much of my summer. It was good gig, but I need to follow my passion and my heart, and for now, that means allowing flying to consume me and immersing myself into the all-encompassing adventure of flight attendant life.