I smirked as I witnessed the awkward uncertainty of the men surrounding the table at a high end Santa Monica restaurant. Emily and I had showed up unexpectedly; a blonde and a brunette following on the heels of a 6’4″ South African aircraft sales director. He was invited; and so, between Emily’s beautiful hair, the fact that she had a car to drive us, and my all-around-tagging along, we were now at a fancy dinner. In normal circumstances— or should I say three months ago— this dinner situation would have made me feel uncomfortably apologetic, but the defined lines of corporate hierarchy I had fell prey to since switching from commercial aviation to private jets had me now feeling slightly gleeful over the obvious confusion of the sales professionals who were present.
Don’t underestimate the people who clean your floors, bring you coffee or ice, and stock your planes. Don’t overestimate sharp suits, flowery language, and immaculate sports cars. We all begin somewhere. We can’t really make it without team work. We will miss the truly incredible story— what really matters— if we only see the stereotypes. And sadly, we so often only see stereotypes.
Sadly, I have been seeing only my stereotype recently. I have been believing that I’m not ready, not competent, or deserve to “stay put.” I have been questioning and fearful. This is not the mindset of how I live! How I live is that I quit jobs without having one. I write stories without knowing if anyone really cares. I go on adventures around the world not actually certain if I will have fun or be safe. I usually live very close to a precipice of curiosity— intently aware of making a jump into opportunity. Recently, I haven’t been jumping, but standing quietly on the sidelines. It’s as if I’m begging. Begging to be accepted. Begging to be wanted. Waiting to be appreciated. It doesn’t make sense when I write these ‘states of being.’ I have always been one who struggles deeply with a need for validation and desire for acceptance. I want everyone to be ok with me, love me, and think I’m wonderful. We all crave love and acceptance to some extent, but problems arise when we place to much weight on what happens externally. I can tell you from my own experience, that mindset almost killed me.
Although the need for validation once almost resulted in my demise, I know I still have a weakness for praise. I see how— in the world of private aviation and even beyond— if I put too much power in the opinion of a client, pilot, boss, boyfriend, or the moment, my life will constantly be a rollercoaster of “almost good enough.” They almost liked me. They almost gave me a job. They ‘almost…’ I was almost perfect. Almost. Almost. Almost. I’m fucking tired of living a life of “almost good enough.”
The truth is, you don’t need permission to be lovely and to be loved.
You. Already. Are.
You already are lovely, and you deserve love.
You deserve that; whether they invited you to the fancy dinner or not.
I’ve been doubting, second guessing, and wondering where I belong. This wondering is one of my biggest mistakes, because to achieve greatness, we need to stop asking for permission. I think belonging has more to do with your internal, self-belief as to where you belong, coupled with your dedication and determination to break through whatever stereotypes that attempt to hold you back, as opposed to someone else letting you, accepting you, or allowing you to belong.
One of the by-products I’ve experienced by staying in the same timezone is my incessant propensity to think too much. When I was flying all the time, I would think a lot, but the thoughts were fuzzied by jet lag and kiteboarding. God, I miss jet lag and kiteboarding! Anyway— the point is that recently— during one of those many torturous drives on the 4o5 (I spend about 3hrs a day driving in Los Angeles traffic), I thought too much as to why I keep asking everyone around me for permission. I continue to ask them— by either my actions, thought process, or insecurities— “You think I can do this? Is this ok? Will you please let me…[insert biggest dreams here].”
Do I expect the people around me to see what I may not even see in myself? I mean, if I don’t see and believe that greatness lies within me, why would I expect anyone else to see that? If I want to do something in my life— whether that be flying, move to Spain, or work for Richard Branson, why is it so necessary that I find validation and receive approval from someone who, truthfully, is probably wrapped up in their own concerns about love and acceptance. They aren’t even worried about what’s going on with me! The point is, no one else is required to walk in your shoes, so if your shoes are feeling uncomfortable, why not walk to the closet and change into new kicks? If I continue to live my life waiting for everyone else’s approval, and for an invite to dinner, I’m going to be waiting for a very long time. Write your own invite. Join your own party. Live like you are loved and adored.
If you think about the renegades and forces-of-human-nature who have shaped history, these men and women didn’t ask for permission. Rosa Parks. MLK. Nelson Mandela— the list can go on and on. Each faced discouragement, opposition, and had to stand up to the fact that they were attempting to rewrite what was normal. I am so glad they did! Those who set trends, change lives, and do great acts don’t ask for permission to be accepted or to belong. It’s uncomfortable to stand out, but mediocrity is torture. Those who make a significant impact believe greatly, work diligently, stay resilient, and refuse to let circumstances define their lives. This is what I hope to achieve. This is who I choose to become.
Don’t prove to the world your potential; spending too much energy working to earn approval and permission from people who you (really) don’t even like that much. Give yourself your own permission slip. A permission slip to belong anywhere you truly want. Why not? This is your trip of a lifetime, so enjoy the ride.