One flight attendant’s tale of realization, self-growth, and persistence on the journey of earning her wings.
We’re all given this one life. Many of us spend the majority of it trying to figure out what the heck we’re supposed to do with it; we go back and forth deciding which path to take.
In my short time on this Earth, I’ve wanted to be an actress, a horse trainer, an elementary school teacher, a high school English teacher, a social worker, a psychologist, a broadcast journalist, a novelist, a print journalist, and (several times throughout those contemplations) a flight attendant.
But once upon a time, I thought I was one of the lucky types – I had it all figured out. In high school, I came to a general conclusion of what I should study in college. Back then, way in the beginning, I had aspirations to become a news anchor/broadcast journalist. When I got to college and started taking classes and getting involved on campus— that morphed into more of an interest in print journalism. For the majority of my time at university, I thought there was a pretty clear, distinct path for me as a newspaper reporter.
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I graduated a year early and shipped out to my first newspaper job. A few months into it, I found myself casually researching the flight attendant career and lifestyle. Back then, I was just flirting with the thought of such a drastic change; not really seriously considering it. I applied to a couple of regional carriers – not really knowing the difference between that and mainline/legacy, and didn’t really give it much more thought. By the time I received rejections to my resume that was not nearly “flight attendy” enough, I was already living in another state and working my second job in the field I graduated in…
A job I quickly grew quite miserable at.
I felt mundane, bored, stuck, and went through bouts of immense, deep regret for leaving the first job – but then I started thinking that there just had to be something out there that would be a better fit for me and my wandering, unconventional ways.
I remembered those rejected applications. The fascination I had with this idea back in high school when the world was my oyster.
I embarked on months of research on blogs (much on Kara’s website, of course!), vlogs, Glassdoor, etc. I talked with current and former flight attendants and searched out everything – the good, the bad and the ugly – to make sure this was the life I wanted … the life of having a job with a name tag with the power to make dreams come true.
I went through the self-doubt and endless questioning that is to be expected when making an enormous decision such as this.
Should I really give up my current career?
Could I live comfortably on a flight attendant’s salary?
What if I end up not liking it after all?
People asked me (and they still do) why I would want to give up what I had to fly around picking up people’s trash. But I knew in my heart of hearts that wanting this for myself was more than just a fascination with travel and wearing a cute uniform (which was also there, don’t get me wrong) – it was the chance to live an authentic, genuine life. An opportunity to take care of people and spread kindness in all sorts of ways. It would be a reminder to live in and enjoy every moment for what it is.
A jump into the unknown had never stopped me before, and I knew I had to see this thing through. I applied, applied, applied. I dedicated an entire night to applying to every single airline that had flight attendant openings.
And then the waiting … the excruciating wait for months and months before those relentlessly awkward one-way video interviews gave way to more waiting. On a day particularly marked with questioning every decision I’ve ever made in my short life, I got a sign. It was my first invite to an in-person interview. It resulted in failure, of which there would be two more, but it propelled me forward nonetheless.
I knew this field was highly competitive – statistics say you’re more likely to get into Harvard than be invited to Delta’s inflight training. But of course, that didn’t stop me from being extremely hard on myself. I was getting so close to this new life that I could taste it – only to have it ripped away at the very last second and be sent back to my desk.
But I never gave up; I knew my time would come if I just kept going for it. I even picked up a part-time retail job so I could gain more customer service experience.
And sometimes a giant, insane leap of faith is just what you need. Mine paid off in an immediate, beautiful way.
I had only been dating my boyfriend for a few months when he accepted a job in Chicago, but I thought it only made sense to ask if I could join him. I wasn’t interested in breaking up, and a long-distance relationship just seemed silly when I didn’t want to stay where I was living and desperately wanted out of the job I had. I told him I would keep trying with airlines and find something temporary in the meantime. That last part turned out to be unnecessary.
I had my last day at my previous job on a Friday. I packed up the rest of my belongings and made the drive to Chicago that weekend. On Monday, I flew for my fourth in-person airline interview and miraculously got the job offer.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I jumped up and down. And cried a little.
I wish you could have seen the expression on my interviewer’s face when she realized I had left my job a few days ago with no concrete plan. I’m sure my sheer force of will was palpable at that point.
Through training and my first year with the company, I’ve developed so much admiration for my quirky airline and so much love for this lifestyle. I couldn’t have asked for a better fit or introduction to the airline industry. Each time I fly, I’m reminded why I wanted this wild, crazy change and adventure. Some days, it still doesn’t feel real.
The freedom, the stories, the smiles, and the fresh perspective this life has brought me are absolutely irreplaceable.
It may look like I got a name tag … but really, I earned my wings.
MyKayla writes about fairy dust and wanderlust at http://www.wanderlustandpickuptrucks.com