Lessons From the Mile High Club: Lifted
I recently turned 24-years-old, had a pre-mid life crisis (that means seriously premature) and quit my job in advertising to become a flight attendant. There. It’s out there. Now you know where this is going (well, kind of). The minute I got off the my first flight, I already had a TON of juicy stories and couldn’t wait to start writing. In fact, I whipped out my neglected iPhone and started typing all of the things I had already nonchalantly discovered about myself.
My first flight jet set me and a few of my new flight attendant friends right into Vegas. Everyone who pranced on the plane wanted a Jack and Coke and a bag of Gardettos to absorb the alcohol. I was on my Nine West toes, and I plastered a rosy smile on my face to cover the nerves.
Thoughts bubbled through my head like champagne, “Am I doing the right thing with my life? Is becoming a flight attendant really where I want to attribute all of my college loans, education and generally flawless intelligence (hehe) to?” Despite these thoughts, I did love the spontaneous adventure of it all, so I pushed doubt aside with gusto.
I sat down on the jump seat next to a pleasant older lady named Sandy. She seemed kind-hearted and calm and handed me a leftover brownie from first class to share with the light turbulence. She looked at me with admiration, and I immediately had an insecurity rush through my mind. I have a problem with older ladies. In a sense, I immediately think they are judging my decisions. Unfairly, I coined Sandy to be the sweet older and wiser woman questioning what on earth I was doing in the air, when my education could keep me financially safe on the ground.
“Now Brittany, tell me how you’re liking everything so far?” I noticed a few careful wrinkles winging the outside of her eyes, indicating that she enjoyed smiling often.
“Oh, everything has been really great.”
“Oh yes, it’s a fabulous job. Now, you have a degree don’t you? You went to college?” My brownie tasted sour when she asked me this, and I prepared myself for judgment.
“Well, yes.” I stuck out my chin and said, “I graduated with a double major in Communications and Advertising.” I stressed the word ‘double.’ Pompous as it was, I couldn’t stand feeling shrunken.
She asked if it was tough finding a job in advertising. I explained to her that I had a job in advertising for about 8 months, discovered I didn’t enjoy it and took this job instead of busting tables.
“What was it you didn’t enjoy?” Her cute smile wrinkles deepened.
“You know, I didn’t enjoy the lifestyle. I didn’t like sitting at the desk all day, and it was extremely stressful.” I needed a better argument. “In the end, it wasn’t fulfilling for me.”
Sandy nodded, “And there wasn’t a different agency or place in the agency you could try out?”
At this point, I felt completely diminished. I hated this. All of my doubts about becoming a flight attendant instead of continuing to dig into a field I could have liked if I tried were making me feel like I had given up. All of the arguments I’d come up with for becoming a flight attendant (travel, people, opportunity, stories) had flown out of the emergency exit window. Confidence exits eagerly in your 20s.
I didn’t really have an argument for her. I left because I didn’t like it. I told her I had to move on and stop wasting time. Sandy was nodding. Assessing. I noticed a few more wrinkles. I kept talking.
“But I write. I love to write. In fact, I write for an online magazine, and I really love doing that. I’m going to write a book someday Sandy, I’m sure of it.” Talking about writing always made me feel better.
Sandy lit up like she had been trying to squeeze a dry orange and finally found a pocket of tangy juice. “You do!? That’s wonderful! Honey, you keep doing that. You’re a beautiful, fresh young lady–and if you can keep your wits with writing often, that’s fabulous.”
I smiled at her. I could taste the sweet orange juice on my tongue and suddenly, being with Sandy was refreshing.
“What did you want to be when you first started out?”
“I wanted to be a flight attendant.”
After we chatted candidly about being a go-go boot wearing flight attendant in the 1960s, I gave Sandy a mini-hug and went to my seat. We were about to land in Vegas, and coincidentally, I had something to think about. I was a little uneasy about our conversation still. I get that way when someone questions my actions. But now I knew Sandy was only looking for that outlet of passion and making sure I was still exercising it. As long as I was doing that, she assumed clear skies ahead.
I pressed my nose against the cool window screen. The mountains were looming ahead and a golden sunset was seeping through them. Sheets of rain fell from deep, grey clouds above the mountains, creating an amazing scene. I gazed at it with awe as the plane’s soft hum numbed my senses, and I could almost feel cool droplets dampen my skin and the soft glow of the sun warm my insides. The wheels of the airplane grasped onto the runway, and we landed with one smooth motion. A loud whoosh sounded as steel and luggage plummeted to a halt.
The plane turned towards the gate and against the sunny rain filled mountains was the Vegas strip. Mandalay Bay reflected against the sunset and created a triumphant golden color–sheer and brilliant. My heart raced and my eyes glittered. For some reason…then I knew. For now, I was doing the right thing. I was right where I needed to be.