Flight Attendant Furlough

October 1st, 2020. For many, this date is ominous and emotional as it will mark an ‘ending’ (or a temporary pause) to an adventure as a flight attendant, pilot, or aviation professional. The pandemic has ravaged both the health and jobs of many and currently, the airlines face the worst crisis since 9/11. United Airlines and American Airlines are set to furlough more than 35,000 flight attendants, collectively, with no certainty as to when callbacks will occur. I have close friends at both airlines. Simply stated, flight attendants are devastated. They have every right to be. Being a flight attendant isn’t only a job, but when individuals put on the uniform they don a lifestyle and rhythm. They step into an identity.

Just think. How would you feel if not only your income, but your identity was stripped away instantaneously? How lost, uncertain, and sad would you be? Losing a flight attendant job is more than losing income. It feels like your adventure is being ripped out of your heart. 

As a commercial flight attendant turned private jet cabin attendant, there is an ache I feel for what my industry brothers and sisters are going through. My former colleagues at The International Airline have already felt the pain of the pandemic and losing their jobs. I know this could have been me, but for some reason, I was spared from experiencing the airline layoff struggle. That being said, this year has introduced me to much more than I feel like I can manage.

No matter where you find yourself, I have a strong inkling that 2020 is here to stretch each and every one of us. It is the year that has pushed us far beyond our comfort zones. For everyone, the comfort zone push looks a bit different. For some, it’s an airline furlough. For others, it’s a new relationship. For many, it’s learning how to be home, teach school to kids, and reinvent themselves again. Last night, I was talking to my corporate flight attendant friend Sara. She said, “You know what’s funny? You know what I wished in 2019, that 2020 would bring? Stability.” Then, she laughed. Nothing about 2020 is stable. I smirked. “I think this year is turning us all upside-down and making us face our fears more than we ever have,” I responded.

I’m in my own land of uncertainty, and although I haven’t felt furlough directly, I’ve been wrestling with losing what I built to be my identity. I find myself looking back longingly to the days and years when I made an insanely good six-figure income. To the days when I single and “killing it.” To the days when I was skinnier, less emotional, and all out put-together a bit better. To the days when I had a (false) belief that I was in control. I find myself realizing that I was not really in control of anything. I find myself desperately trying to find my footing again.

And as a look back to the past, I stumble upon the smarter, more faith-filled part of myself—that part of my Higher Self that has a deep connection to a Higher Being — saying, “Darling. You haven’t lost anything. This is NOT an ending, but a very, exciting beginning. But, I need you to trust.” 

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October 1st, 2020 is not an ending. This is a beginning. This is the beginning to be everything else that you are or have wanted to become. You are not alone in this place and space. God is here. He will not let you go. You have friends and colleagues in your circle who understand and are walking beside you. We are all just as scared as the next person, but please, somehow find a way to see the upcoming changes as a new beginning. It’s not easy, but there is possibility. Possibility can lead to hope, hope to joy, joy to a vibrant life. There is another adventure waiting just for you. 

If you don’t believe in God, that’s ok. He believes in you. I remember this one time, over ten years ago, when I yelled at Him. “Don’t you dare leave me here. Don’t you fucking dare.” Have you ever yelled to nothing like that? Honestly, I didn’t believe He heard me then or cared. Regardless, I was rescued and gifted a career that allowed me to travel the world, experience cultures, and see beyond the way that I was raised. He’s asking you now to see beyond, and if you can’t see beyond, trying yelling at him.

I didn’t deserve the path I was given. I didn’t earn being a flight attendant or working on private jets. I wasn’t qualified or more special than anyone else. Most of the time, my life of adventures as a flight attendant is a quiet reminder to me that I am loved. Find the reminders in your world that say, beyond any doubt or question, “I am loved.”

You have your path and that path asks faith, perseverance, and positivity. This is not the end. It is a low point, but you will once again rise. I want to leave you with a thought. I read it this morning before going surfing. I hope it gives you a bit of comfort. You are on the greatest adventure of your entire life. Keep going. 

“But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way,
who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them,
directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take,
make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—
sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.”
Isaiah 43:16

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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