Saturday, July 20, 2013

In the Air

I never expected that flying would give me so much time to think. It sounds a bit strange, but lately I browse the pockets of my mind as if were my favorite section of a record store. One minute, I'm pushing a cart through the aisle, putting ice into a plastic cup for the man on my left, and the next, I'm contemplating why life presents itself so discretely.

Perhaps it is a test written into the intimidating "probation" stage of the job, but the last three months of being a flight attendant have made me question my sanity, personality, and character. It may be normal to get lost in your thoughts once in awhile, but I can't tell if this is "normal."

The more I talk about the difficulties of being a new-hire flight attendant, I'm met with a 50-50 reaction: Pity or No nonsense. As I mention the great benefits, flexibility, etc., I am met with the throbbing weight of negativity the job brings: not-so-great pay, an ironic distance from friends, family, and home, and the unhappiness that comes with being unsettled and powerless. The voice inside my head says, "You have it easy, compared to those who are actually homeless. You have food, decent income, and more importantly, a job. Suck it up and get over it; you're in a good place." Meanwhile, I find myself screaming back, "Then why am I so unhappy? If it's such a good thing, then where is this pain coming from?"

I know that these are first world problems. I'm a healthy adult who managed to work her way into the field of aviation, gain a career at 21, while still attending school. My feelings of homelessness are nothing compared to those people who sleep on the streets, condemned buildings, and live off of the food that I so regularly waste because I'm not hungry or can't stomach it. I have a place to bathe regularly and enough money to keep myself fed. Logically, I can't complain about anything. I know I must sound like the kid that just got hit over the head with the "real world." I look at myself from the outside and laugh, thinking, "You're just a spoiled kid. Suck it up."

But even as I write this, my eyes start watering. Am I pathetic? Depressed? What's going on? This job is great, don't get me wrong, but something is out of place. Whether it's me, being off-track somewhere in the course of my life or some other thing I can't actually label, I'm not happy. I blame myself for spreading my goals so thin and try to do too many things at once instead of have the patience and diligence to do them one by one. I ended up crying when other flight attendants asked me how the job is treating me thus far. I don't want to lie and say that everything is great. (Although I end up doing this most of the time.) I want to be honest: I like this job . . . when the people I work with do their job the way it is supposed to be done. Most of the time, though, I find myself hating it because I feel as though I am doing the work of the whole plane. The excitement of flying is gone, and I dread getting on the plane. I'm excited when I can fly with the friends I've made, buy a small new snack at a local grocery store, or work in a premium cabin. Explaining this to my fellow flight attendants, I was met with the reactions I mentioned earlier: Half of the group told me to suck it up and get over it, while the others sympathized and told me that it will be horrible for about a year or two, and then things will get better. Yet, all of them told me that things will be okay, and this broke me.

Perhaps it's too many things at once: The person I love the most is about to leave the country, and I feel that this job is the one thing keeping me in control of seeing them. Yet, if I dislike this job, and I give it up, it's as though I lose that person forever. I can't just call them and go visit them. Instead, it's more work to see them. Then I ask myself, "But isn't that person worth it? Shouldn't you work hard to see them?" That's countered by, "Then keep the job. Endure it. You can do it. It's not that difficult, and you're good at it."

I'm trying to catch up to my dreams.

"How do I graduate school now?"
"Well, you can take classes online."
"I have four left, and the majority are only offered on-campus at the university."
"I guess you'll have to suck it up and go to school, then."
"Can't I just stop and do it all in one semester like everyone else?"
"Why didn't you do that before you took the job?"
"Because the job told me I would be flying 20-30 more hours at higher pay for flying to Japan . . ."
"Well, you should have investigated more before you accepted. If you did your homework, you would know that you wouldn't be flying. You can't complain about it. You decided to take the job and drop out of school."

The discussion continues, and I feel as though the world is lecturing me.

I guess I should stick to the mantra, "Everything will be okay," even though a part of me is suffocating thinking about what will happen in the future.

It's supposed to be fun not knowing what will happen, but the anxiety of it all has really been eating at me. It hits as soon as the lights dim in the cabin, service is complete, and the majority of passengers are sleeping. As I open a can of coke and take a sip, the scenario repeats, and I find myself up in the clouds.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Never Let Me Go

After a long hiatus of airline training, flying overseas, and getting lost in my thoughts, I finally decided it may be good to write and communicate my thoughts with the rest of the world.

The last six months have been challenging and all over the place. Nothing seems to be in my control, and I can't stop rolling down whatever hill I stumbled over. The positives remain that I was recently hired as a flight attendant, and after undergoing two-and-a-half months of training, I've become accustomed to living out of a suitcase, traveling the world, and interacting with over 600+ people on a 72 hour (or less) basis. It's not necessarily what I thought I'd be doing with my life, but for someone who is 21 and still enrolled in college, I guess it's not a bad lifestyle. I have health insurance, discounted travel perks, and I'm constantly moving in-and-out of a multicultural environment.

Yet, it felt strange reading about college graduation plans, JET Program interviews, and graduate school acceptance letters over facebook. Most of my classmates and good friends have moved past the undergraduate milestone and are moving onto bigger things. Although my parents and some dear friends remind me that there are plenty of exceptions to my previous statement, I can't help but find myself longing for my undergraduate degree. I'm not happy, and I need to pull myself back up this hill.

It's not that life for me is horrible. Again: Free and/or discounted travel perks, paid to fly internationally, health insurance, and a very flexible work schedule. Everything should be easy, right? If I have a schedule conflict, I can plan my work flights around whatever else I need to prioritize. I no longer have to tough out being sick to the point of near hospitalization because I can now afford to go to the doctor, and if I want to visit my friends in New York or California, why not hop on a plane and go? Well, I wish things were that easy. Needless to say, every job has a probationary period, and until then, it's better to play by the rules than to force them to bend.

I never disliked commuting to work until recently. It's not that it's too difficult or expensive, I'm just land-sick, if that makes sense. When I'm not working on a plane, I spend my time traveling home on one, or flying back to work. This problem may get better if I transfer bases or get an apartment or crashpad closer to my current base. Until my new-hire finances get in order, though, this (I should say the apartment, specifically, because I have one) is a little too budget-tight for comfort. I'd like to spend my time at home actually AT home, rather than worried about how many hours I have to wash clothes, take my uniform to the dry cleaners, cuddle my dogs, talk to college advisers about returning to class, help my parents move . . . The list is exhausting thinking about it now, and I'm typing this from my bed. 

My parents are selling their house, well, trying to, and have been battling their finances for about the last 5 years. (At least, that's when they started becoming a bit more vocal about their struggles.) I feel somewhat homeless. I'm not comfortable enough in my apartment to call it home, and I never really got a chance to settle into my parents house again after I got back from Japan. I had only started unpacking into my room when my parents told me that my grandparents would be moving into my bedroom, so I started sleeping on the couch, cleaning out the spare (read: storage) room to make way for me. Although, to be fair, it was also my way of detaching myself from my bedroom completely; something in my gut told me I wouldn't be moving into that room again. My grandparents moved in around the time I was hired for the airline. And in the middle of my training, only after being at the house about two-and-a-half months or so, they moved out. Despite paying for a new room addition, barn, and touch-ups to the house, my grandparents left my parents with a bigger house than they can afford. Now I'm not even at the house long enough to pay rent, look for a cheaper place to live, or even live there and help them with the little I can pay for my room.

I guess that's a long-winded way of saying: It sucks to feel homeless and then live from a suitcase. (To which many people reply: Better than actually being homeless; I agree.)

Perhaps this is a really wordy way of saying that I'm unhappy with where I am in life right now, and it started out as a way of motivating myself to do something about it. When I look at my ex-boyfriend, who is still my best friend (and dare I say it, soul mate), I see that he's doing things he wants to do. He tried being an artist, and sadly, didn't rise to fame (at least not yet!), but he's striving forward to try something new. For now, he doesn't know what, but he knows that he wants to go somewhere new and start over clean. I admire his ability to just pick everything up, move forward, and set a new goal for himself. He's going to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. That's way too cool.

For my own sake, I've told myself that right now, I know the following:
1) I want to be close to my best friend
2) I want to graduate from school
3) I want to apply for the JET program after graduation
4) I'm not happy being a flight attendant

It's not a sure-fire plan or anything, but at least it's a start. I'll continue to move forward by giving my roommates my notice, setting up appointments with professors and college advisers, and try to get myself grounded in a routine again. Moving around too much makes me dizzy, and I lose focus. I will get another part-time job to pay for school as my scholarships are still screwed up from the drama that happened during study-abroad, and I will graduate.

Time to keep doing my best, move forward, and get this shit done.