Adventure vs. Security: Can you have both as a flight attendant?

Human nature is funny. It’s as if we equally crave both adventure and security. If we have too much stability, routine, and predictability, we become bored. If there is too much unknown, uncertainty, and newness, we can become overwhelmed and anxious. My current experience with blending adventure and security feels like a rollercoaster. Sometimes we are up, up, up and loving it, and at other times, I grit my teeth in terror as the world rushes by me. It kinda feels like I might be plummeting to my death. Why is it we like rollercoasters, again? I wonder if my need for adventure and my yearning for stability will always be at odds in ‘Flight Attendant Life.’

I consider solutions to fix the swinging pendulum of uncertainty I feel daily in my career as a contract corporate flight attendant— evaluating potential options for my future. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for a new career. I have the most insanely cool job that you can imagine. I get paid a ridiculous amount of money to work for billionaires on their private planes, can (in theory) work whenever I want, and travel without paying for anything. Did I also mention the job is creative, exciting, and challenging?

The only thing is— the anxiety. The uncertainty. The financial instability. Yes. That financial instability is so difficult to deal with. Trips change, shorten, or cancel and in one phone call, my entire month salary can disappear— or it can be made. That thing they say about, “Big risk, big reward?” It’s so true. I’m gambling with my career and lifestyle every single month and so far, the dice is rolling hot. It’s the game, but the thing is, the house always wins. I am not the house.

I’m in a great adventure, but it’s not secure. But when was adventure ever secure? I think that’s why we go for adventure. We have a need to shake things up in our life. The shaking in my life has been going for quite a few years, so naturally, I think of options that might offer more surety.

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A) Find a full-time corporate flight attendant job.
B) Go back to being a commercial flight attendant.
C) Become a pilot.
D) Deal with my anxiety and embrace the chaos.

Let’s be real: Whatever option I choose, incorporating Option D would be of benefit. No matter what. Learning how to be happy, content, and at peace regardless of your circumstances will transform your days and your soul. Positive transformation is never a bad choice.

But as far as my future choice and the question of, “How much longer can I take this flight attendant craziness?” is there a way to design my life that fits better? I realize thought that with every option or opportunity there exists an ‘opportunity cost.’ A full-time corporate flight attendant job means I lose my freedom to decline any trip that I want and make my own schedule. With a commercial flight attendant job, I’ll decrease my yearly income by over $80k! Let’s just agree right now that that number is significant. I don’t want to live on $25k anymore like many commercial flight attendants must. Becoming a pilot means that my play money and play time will go to flight training. I also face the next five to ten year grind of ‘pilot life.’ I feel like I’ve done the grind, and yet, I don’t really have a career. It all feels so up-in-the-air.

I think the solution that I debate most consistently is if it’s worth trading my freelance status to that of full-time corporate flight attendant. The internal discussion always seems to end with the same result. I don’t think a full-time job would make me happy. I value my freedom more than anything. No one tells me how much or little I have to work. No one tells me when. No one guarantees me a job or a paycheck. No one tells me how to dress or what to be. If I want something, I have to earn it. If I want to walk away, no one would miss me. Honestly. There are a million men and women who would kill for my career. I’m replaceable and that makes this job feel all the more special. 

I find the uncertainty just as addictive as it is unnerving. Everyday is truly different, and I really don’t know what will happen next. My career and lifestyle is everything that I once hoped it could be— the only thing is that I never understood how difficult managing the financial unknowns would be. There is a pressure to never stop flying when you get trips because you just never know when it all will end. When you will stop being called or have a job. I love this corporate flight attendant life, but I don’t know if it’s possible to build a life on it. It has yet to feel like a firm foundation. I think the flight attendants who make a long career out of private aviation are incredibly strong and incredibly good at their jobs. I don’t know if I am either of those. Luck seems to be on my side, and I’m riding the wave. Waves always break though, and I don’t know how long I will last on this one. I guess the best way to survive it. and thrive in it, is to always be present. Enjoy anything you have in life while you have it. 

I flew a flight attendant trip this week, took four surf lessons, wrote two blogs, took three flight lessons, hung out with my favorite adventure babe, ate unicorn gelato, and rode my beach bike multiple times. How fucking amazing is a life like that? I’ve affectionately called it #Adulting101 on Instagram. As I said, this design of a life that I can call mine is everything that I hoped. Regardless of whether I feel adventurous or fearful, I am so blessed to be here and doing this thing. So blessed. 

A week that looks like that didn’t come naturally. I get to choose this adventure now because over a year ago I said ‘yes’ to so much insecurity. Because, I worked through being broke as hell, depressed as ever, and alone as can be. I worked through it. And maybe, being a flight attendant or being anything in life is not about having excitement and certainty. Maybe living your best life is about fully experiencing whatever your career and personal world throws at you right now. If it’s throwing adventure— take it. If it’s security— love that season, too. We are never all one thing or all another.

About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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