I find myself drained, reclusive, and wanting to ‘disappear’ from the world. I spend hours hiding in my room in the beautiful 4-bedroom ocean-view home where I rent a room. I’ve lived here for so long that the woman who owns the house, Sybil, knows how I crave (and need) to be alone. Most probably don’t know this about me. “You could have fooled me,” one of my friends told me yesterday. They know the incredible amount of bubbles I exude in day-to-day life. They know the social media aspect of my existence. They know I work with people as my job, and they know that I love my job! Not shy or un-talkative, naturally, it would seem that I would want to always be around people. Naturally, it would seem that I am an extrovert. But I’m actually not.
Introversion and extroversion have little to do with being shy or having inadequate social skills, but refers to the way that your soul “recharges.” Do you feel energized when in a crowd or around many people? Or, do you find solace when you have a deep and meaningful conversation with a few friends or discover more clarity with your own thoughts and time by yourself? It’s not that both introverts and extroverts don’t need social interaction— we all do— but the level and intensity of interacting with a lot of people at work or play effects individual personalities in different ways.
Recently, I’ve been struggling with my energy, anxiety, and patience levels. I find myself becoming frustrated with myself— falling back to the self-talk of, “WHY are you soooo tired? You just had the easiest trip in the world. You’ve had over a month with some of the best pilots in the industry. You are living your dream job and getting more trips than you ever wanted. Don’t be an ungrateful bitch…” And then my thoughts trail off, because I’m confused. I’m confused at, “What’s wrong with me?” Have I ever considered that maybe nothing is ‘wrong with me?’ What if I’m just an introvert in an extroverted type of job? What if I was just designed to need time to myself to be able to do the best that I can in what I do? I think I’m more of an introvert than I ever imagined, and introverts need that time and space and quiet to feel human. Feeling human is important for your sanity.
So, I’m alone. Searching for my moments of sanity; trying to figure out how to juggle a career that demands that I place so much external energy on other people. I love my destinations, but home or “my time” is so precious. I look forward to it. I need it. We all do. The woman I rent from knows this. Like a mother, Sybil greets me and loves me after I’ve been gone on a trip and then leaves me to behind my closed door. I often don’t do much the days after a trip. I’m often scared I’ll get another trip too soon; another adventure before I’ve had time to recharge from the previous one.
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From the day I get called to fly— to the moment where I finish cleaning the plane and drive away from the airport— I feel like “I’m on.” It’s an all-out performance to always make it in this career. For me, I believe that the pressure is more internally driven than external. I know that this career that I am in— contract corporate flight attendant— is not secure, but very quickly, I’ve secured a decent reputation and impressive resume. I’m not bragging. I’ve just had the right people in my corner. I also know that my hard work could be crushed by one mistake. That kind of pressure and stress lingers days after a flight is over. It seeps into my body and exudes from my spirit. That need to impress everyone around me saps more energy than I imagined. “But, you’re really good at the job! You’re doing great! People would kill for this career!” are words that I remind myself. Those words may all be true, but we all need to take a break sometimes.
In my job, I have to impress the pilots. I have to impress the passengers. I need to remember everything. I felt that “being on” was also a part of the job of a commercial flight attendant, but the difference now, is that the pilots have a lot of say of who flies and who doesn’t. In commercial, your job is less affected by who is in the cockpit or in the cabin. I don’t miss commercial because with more responsibility comes more freedom. I have an incredible amount of freedom in my career. I truly am the designer and definer of my days and future! I am always treated like a professional. No one tells me what to wear when to show up at the aircraft, and what exact pieces and items to put together to make the flight go smoothly. I don’t have rules about when I can or can’t use my phone, but barely have time on most flights to even send out one text or Google something I don’t know how to do. It’s a different lifestyle and work environment than the commercial world. It’s very rewarding and equally as stressful. I’m honestly not as good with the stress as I would like to be, but with experience, I continue to get better.
Ironically, the trait that instills an intense desire within me to want to be alone, is also a reason why introverts make such good flight attendants. Introverts notice nuances of people. Introverts are highly aware of what is going on around them and how people in the vicinity are feeling through non-verbal cues. Introverts care deeply about human connection and internal rewards. We work hard, not because of what someone else will reward us with, but due to the sense of satisfaction, we give ourselves by a job well done. This doesn’t mean that extroverts do not exhibit introverted traits or don’t have value to bring to a job as a flight attendant. We are all needed in this world to create harmony, goodness, and excellence within our work environments and beyond.
When I came to the realization, understanding, and acceptance that I have an introverted nature in an extroverted sky, I breathed a sigh of relief. I’m not being anti-social or it doesn’t mean I’m bad at my job because I find the trips SO draining. It just means that ‘I am me’ and I’m reaching another level of understanding of how to create calm in the chaos of my life and soul. We all need to really understand ourselves as best we can and continue to grow each and every day.
I believe that, whether you are shy or outgoing; bubbly or reserved; there is a place for you on an airplane somewhere— IF you want it. Recruiting teams are not looking for one type or one age or one look. You have a unique role and place in the world, and to continue to live up to your potential, keep discovering who you are and how BEST you relate and interact with the world. We, as flight attendants and humans, do have a responsibility to those around us— our employers, colleagues, and friends— to show up as the ABSOLUTE BEST version of ourselves. It’s up to you to figure out what you need to do to achieve your best.
Although I hope I can be a source of inspiration and light to you through this blog and social media, I don’t have it all together or have reached a pinnacle of success. It’s a constant and daily journey. Sometimes I am up, up, up, and sometimes I struggle to even see the sky. I’m learning the value of showing myself kindness. For today, that means— writing, spiritual reflection, gym, eating a healthy breakfast and veggie bowl for lunch, and then jumping on a flight to London. This isn’t for work— this is just for me. So, I’ll leave you with— whether introverted or extroverted, “remember to remember you.”