It takes an hour and a half to get home from my work in The Valley and land back to my life at the beach. Today— from drive to finish— I cried pathetic alligator hiccupy tears into my iPhone; a patient, caring ear on the other end uncomplainingly listening (although he had been rudely interrupted from what was a peaceful Saturday afternoon). I’m crying about that job on the ground. I’m crying about this new chapter. I’m crying, because I thought it would be easier.

And it’s not easier.

Griffin Bruehl

I don’t know if I ever understood how “painful” becoming a corporate flight attendant could be. I now understand why so many don’t make it. I have a certain respect for the ones who do.

I notice the competitive nature, and equally as prominent, the incredible amount of opportunity lying fallow for the taking. This industry has no room for those willing to walk away at the first signs of no. Private aviation has no place for those who don’t “earn their wings,” and unlike commercial aviation— with a cookie-cutter approach to success— there is no one way to “make it.” (I say that with my heart being a Commercial Girl first).

Kara Mulder flight attendant

Although the path may be unclear at this time, for me as well as many others, there are two mindsets that will carry you through the days when no one is calling you for flights. When you are told, “You’re not good enough.” When you are left on the ground; waiting. 

  1. Confidence
  2. Expecting ‘The Pain’

These mindsets cannot be trained, but they can be developed. First, some corporate flight attendants get lucky with their jobs and career track, but let’s talk to the rest of us. Let’s talk to the rest of us who have faced challenges so tough that we breathe— alone in dark rooms— I am so not strong enough for this. Let’s talk to those who have risked for relationships, gone through divorces, walked away from a conventional lifestyle, and made all of those steps forward that didn’t, in actuality, go well or go forward. This is to those who have doubted their resolve, questioned their abilities, and second-guessed their destiny. This is for the level of doubt, second-guessing, and questioning that makes me tear up, for an hour and a half on the 405, on a Saturday.

That level of doubt also reminds me of a Captain and an observation that he made recently. I had walked on his aircraft— with an air of confidence and my signature dose of bubbles— and that was enough to buff out the rough patches of inexperience that are jotted on my private aviation resume. I smiled with his compliment that pertained to my confident persona; feeling a sense of relief and satisfaction.

The confident aura that the pilot appreciated is not an energy I feel all of the time. Confidence is so deeply real for me in some scenarios and artfully manufactured in others. I believe this ‘manufacturing‘ occurs for 99 percent of the population in 80 percent of situations. I am artfully manufacturing confidence when I fly, and I’m learning that— if I can keep that up— I’ll discover what unstoppable feels like. Although I am not fully appreciated and accepted by my employer, I am getting noticed by others; proving that I must be doing something right with the little that I do know. 

Manufacture when you must. Confidence is a mindset and whether you feel it or make-believe-it, find its power and use it. Own it. Be all of who you are.

Kara Mulder corporate flight attendant

Then there is the pain of starting over. There is the pain of thinking you were somehow above the struggle; that you know it’s been tough on everyone around you, but you are different. When the pain of stepping into something new is cushioned by a “fall-back plan,” you will 90 percent of the time fall-back and never make it forward. People keep asking me how to get into private aviation and all that I know to say to that is— “It will require all of you. It will require all of your desire. It will require something much deeper than money or the need for adventure.” I can’t tell you if you have it. I can’t promise that you will make it. I can’t even promise it’s worth it. Only you will know. 

In my current life space, I have options to go back to the airlines. Do I want to go? Well— I want to belong. I want to be comfortable, but if I didn’t stay in this thing I have started, I would always feel like I turned back before my bright shining breakthrough. I turned back before I really knew if I liked it or not. Deep down, I know I can do this thing and land a really incredible jet account. I know that, but it’s simply a matter of, “How much ‘pain’ can I tolerate while I work here and wait.” How much pain will you tolerate?

When you step into private aviation, you will begin to understand that the majority of the people who you will fly—  the most wealthy and successful individuals in the world— went through sacrifice, invested a lot in themselves, and risked, sometimes everything, to get to the place where you are serving them. There are no free lunches, no free rides, and no respect given for those who are not willing to give their comfort, time, and surety for the possibility of a better life. If you choose to go out on a limb for yourself, just watch how many people will step up and catch you, open doors you could never open, and encourage you along the way; but they will only do this if they see that you are hungry.

Kara Mulder private cabin attendant

I’m sharing this with you, because I am in the throws and feels of the pain of the struggle and confidence questioning. I question my lack of contentment with the status quo— equally grateful and annoyed by the fact that I have a spirit that likes to push limits and challenge boxes. I deal with my insecurities best when I redirect negative personal questions and deflect others opinions of myself. Many of my insecurities in private aviation have resulted from what I have been told by individuals, who really know little to nothing about me. My fault is that I have chosen to believe their opinions. To make it better? Stop listening to limiting beliefs; yours or anyone else’s. 

We like to make up stories, and life is this funny ball of stories. The stories you bounce around can be re-bounced, you know. If you’re making up shit, why not just make it unicorn shit? With that narrative, the poopy reality at least includes rainbows and sparkles.

Unicorn and Penguin Onesie

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