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.

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