“What do you want?” I asked pointedly— the words digitally etched into existence. The text message had a haunting feel to it, as if the question should have been directed at me instead of the stranger who had messaged me out-of-the-blue after obtaining my number from a mutual airline friend. This stranger worked for my old airline and wanted to work for my new airline.
“I want to do internationals. I want to have overnights in foreign countries. I want to do 3-4-5 day long trips.”
Sounds like this change will be perfect for this stranger, but will it? Reality is so much different than perceived perfection. I got this job with my current airline, not because I had always dreamed of international trips or being cabin crew, but because I was curious. I always wondered. I wondered if their lives were different than my domestic flying existence. I wondered what it was like to be them. I wondered too much to say “no.” I did this— not because it was always my dream— but because it literally landed in, my lap and I was too curious to say no. I’ve never really had to ask myself since I started my flying career, “What do you really want?” until now.
First airline: Just needed a job.
Second airline: Did it for the blog.
Third ADVENTURE: Oh shit…???
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Because knowing what you think you want is a whole lot different than knowing what you really want and what will really make you happy.
The digital discussion with this stranger continued with me asking, “Are you ok with no flight benefits, no bidding, no schedule choice, no seniority, no trading…” I laid it out bluntly that you don’t really get to travel, which is one of the main reasons flight attendants become flight attendants.
You don’t have time.
You don’t have money.
You don’t have benefits.
And you are always jet lagged.
Do you still want my life; the glamorous one with London today and LA tomorrow? The one that looks perfect on Instagram? If you are at a place where all you can think about is how you want this flight attendant life more than anything you ever wanted in your entire life, that you don’t care where you have to relocate to, or how long and difficult the training is, you’re ready. You really want this and that is the best place to be.
My friend Jasmine just got hired with a major. She’s kind of a badass and probably one of the coolest chicks I have ever met. She loves travel, kite boards, surfs, snowboards, scuba dives, and was once a gymnast, among other things. At 29, she is where I was at 23; completely stoked and excited for the adventure. She doesn’t care where she is based or where she will fly. She just landed her dream job and a job, after many years of taking time to explore the world and herself. She’s getting flight attendant life when she knows herself better. I got flight attendant life to find myself better. Both are good. Both are different.
I miss that excitement and find myself living vicariously through her energy, because I’m at the stage of asking myself, “What do you want?”— a question that only I can answer. It’s a question that I have been avoiding and uncertain over. It’s a question that has been making me unhappy, because my current life is at odds with what I know to be the answers.
There’s a scene from The Notebook where Noah pointedly asks Allie— after telling her, “I want you everyday, forever— “What do you want? Not what your parents want, not what everyone else wants, not what I want…What do you want?!? Goddamn it! What do you want?” “It’s not that simple,” she says. But it also isn’t that difficult. You just have to be willing to accept the truth that will arise from that question.
Before choosing your next airline, first airline, or no airline, you will have to find clarity on that question. You will need it for yourself and your sanity.
I want you to take 20 mins. Find a quiet space alone. Put your phone out of reach. Grab a pen, some crayons, and a notebook. Put on some soft piano music if you want. Close your eyes. Picture yourself. What do you like most about yourself? What is it you are really good at? What is one thing that you have done this past week or month that you are really proud of? What do your friends like most about you?
You are so incredible— a gift to this world. God didn’t put you here to simply exist and live in struggle. He is with you wherever you go and has promised you an abundant life.
Now, take a look at your life and who you are right now: What is it that you don’t like about where you are? What it is it that you want to accomplish?
Who do you want to be three years from now? What kind of experiences do you hope to have? What sacrifices are you willing to make?
I think the reason that knowing what we personally want for our lives can be so hard is because we live at such a fast pace. Life is a blur. We wake up one day and realize that we are living a life we never really wanted. We are living a life that “just happened” to us. I very much feel like this is happening to me right now. It’s a difficult place to be in some aspects and in others, it feels empowering.
I AM the driver of my life. I need to simply stop sitting in the backseat of the car. It’s dangerous to drive from that perspective….