I curl up in my bed at my parent’s farmhouse and wrap my arms tightly around my body; ducking my head between my shoulders as if shielding an incoming attack. “Going back to bed?” my dad asks in a tone of slight amusement as he walks into the space to tell me goodbye. I’m leaving again today. I should have departed hours ago for my beach home in LA, but I’m still here; held by an invisible grasp. Maybe somewhere within me I believe that I don’t have to adult on the farm. I can just be the little girl who wants to hide from the world because she really doesn’t know how much more world she can handle. “No…” I trail off with a sigh. “I just don’t know how to do all of these things. It feels like I can’t do all of these things.”
I try to think of other moments when I have felt this kind of stretch in my life. The last four months have been incredible— full of success and challenge. I have been alive with wonder and excitement; driven more than ever. I don’t really know any days anymore where I live in a zone of comfort or surety. I live in ‘stretch.’ Last year, dealing with a broken ankle and learning to be patient and hopeful in the wait stretched me to the point where I thought my soul might break along with my bone. This year, I find myself operating at the extreme opposite, but with similar doubts or feelings of inadequacy. Now, life is so fast and so full that I find myself desperately looking for just a break to breathe.
I work as a contract private jet flight attendant, and any days I’m not flying, or even on my layovers, I’m collaborating and contributing as a digital marketing manager for a private jet company. When both of those are not happening, I want and need to write for the blog and complete the redesign of the website; a project that has been in the works for over a year. And resumes to re-write for friends, a book to write, this project and that project, and now flight lessons. My dad bought an airplane. Amazing. Everything is absolutely amazing.
And I look at everything in its entirety and I want to run away. I want to curl up and hide because it’s so much in its entirety. I am legitimately stretched. Stretched to what I feel like I can handle. Even good things in life can become overwhelming. There is an underlying anxiety that lives within me. This is very much related to my corporate flight attendant career. Although an incredible blessing to have consistency from my freelance writing work, balancing a new flying career in private aviation and a fairly new writing career has been far from easy. I used to want to see how many days off I could get a month when I worked for the airlines and just play around the world. Now I cancel on friends for kite trips, bridal showers, and birthday parties because work and goals are my worlds right now. Maybe that all means I’m just growing up.
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I run my mind in circles over what I can drop and put on pause in my life. The only thing I can scale back on is flight attendant trips. And I actually try, but even with turning down two or three trips some months, I’m flying a lot. It’s a blessing. It’s addictive. I find my competitive nature with myself a driving force to every ‘yes.’ “How much can I make this month?” “Let me see if I can top my best month.” “But, it’s that company and I love that company! I have to say yes to them.” “They’re calling and someday they just won’t.” “These are the exact days I wanted to fly. I’ll take that trip.” “The destination is worth it.” “Now, I’m taking flight lessons, and I need to afford that.”
There will always be a good reason to say ‘yes,’ but maybe there is a better reason to say ‘no.’
This is what I am trying to figure out. As much as I pray for flights each month, I also secretly hope that the next month might be slow, and I’ll be forced to replace my flying income with my own things.
Could I do it?
Would I do it?
Will the one thing that changed my life to such a degree and made me a better person be what eventually takes away from the future that I hope to curate for myself? I am stretched. I believe stretch to be healthy in some ways. I know that I have become stronger, more confident and more capable, but I’m tired. I’m tired of trying to “do it all,” but when all is so good, how do I let go? How do I scale back when I worked so fucking hard to scale up? What do I want most out of life and is the way that I am living today leading me to that?
And then, I fall back to the thought, “Just get through this next week’s trip…” and oh, and the following week and the one after that.
I don’t dread any of my trips. I love them. This isn’t like how I felt at the airlines. I’ve worked for this and earn every callback. It’s so rewarding. I have so much fun at my job. It’s not like I dread any of the things that I am responsible to and for, I’m just faced with my humanness. I’m human and not a superhero. I’m struggling with the level of stretch in front of me. I don’t know what else to do but keep pushing. I give 200 percent to everything and I have no percents left to give.
I guess this is when I breathe and lean into that stretch a little bit more. At some point, I’ll be a flight attendant that nobody wants and then I’ll have another type of stretch to face.