Palms pressed tightly against my face, elbows resting on the restaurant’s bar surface, my eyes water as I sigh in exasperation. “Ohmygoodness,” is all I can think as I glance at my watch while waiting for my catering pickup. I have no time. I’m not dressed and pressed in my flight attendant uniform. There is so much to do still. Definitely whelmed.

My week has been one of highs and lows; schedule changes and cancellations. From a twelve day trip being cancelled, to it going back on my schedule, to broken airplanes and last minute adjustments— this was the definition of, “Crazy, Messy, Beautiful ‘Flight Attendant Life.”

My stress levels were surprisingly low considering; although my annoyance over my lack of control remained at an all-time high. The universe must know I need to continue to learn the lesson of embracing those highs and managing the lows. 

Moscow, Russia. 10-day layover.

It was supposed to be New York for the weekend and instead I surfed in Hermosa Beach, kited in Malibu, and slept in my own bed. It was supposed to be two nights in Boston, but I found myself at a different airport on a new time schedule. I had a date in London and a afternoon tea meet up with a girlfriend for my twenty four hours in the city and true to aviation, “Make plans you are excited about and all will change.” But the beauty? You want to know what the beauty is about that? YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW AMAZING THE REPLACEMENT EXPERIENCE IS GOING TO BE.

Because there will be a new high after that low-low.

Yesterday, I walked the streets of an iconic British town staring at EVERYTHING. I stopped to look at the moss growing on the brick on a side-street and wondered about the stories these walls had built up over the years. Oh I bet there are stories! Do you even realize the stories, friendships, wisdom and beauty you are stockpiling due to your career? You need both the lows and the highs to create anything of interest. Both are interesting and beautiful in their own way.

The faces of ‘Flight Attendant Life’

How quickly the highs become low in ‘Flight Attendant Life,’ and oh how intermingled they are. I’m not saying that your level of happiness changes in what you do and who you are depending on your circumstances. All I am saying is that it is easy to overlook that— although this is a fucking dream job— not every minute will always be a dream. I don’t care what outsiders say looking in at the privileged career or how cool it is overall, it’s not always as good as it looks on Instagram. I feel guilty admitting that between those picture perfect photos, tears, anxiety, and uncertainty co-mingle amidst the magic. But maybe that is also why I love living this beautiful lifestyle— it’s the most authentic and real thing I know in a world of billionaire dollars and make believe. 

Full of heartbreak. Full of wonder. Full of lessons. Oh so full of all the things that make us human. 

Pacing the hotel room that was once a prison cell, I plop myself by the chair in the corner; pulling out my notebook and pen. It’s 2:33am and my thoughts have trapped me awake. This is one of those “low moments.” This is one of those moments when I can’t stop thinking about relationships, jobs, writing, dreams, goals, and how I spend my time.

I try over and over again to stuff my emotions, feelings and understanding into a box — the box of the girl who has this title and does that thing and makes x amount of dollars. This box is awkward and clumsy like the suitcase I drag all over the world. But, at least the suitcase has a purpose and place. I don’t fit into this box I’m trying to stuff myself. The blurred lines and discomfort gnaw at my self-worth and feed my insecurities. With a flash of clarity, I realize that I’m actually not ok “here.” I’m not ok with the box I’ve picked to structure certain relationships and certain schedules.  

And so, it comes down to one question— “What mountaintop highs do you want in your life and what valley lows are you willing to deal with to experience them?” Because nothing in life is free. It will cost you and if you get too off track your sleepless nights will become more prominent and more pronounced. I know we always blame jet lag, but is it always that? 

The questions continue to swirl. “Is the friendship dynamic we’ve created worth it or does it hurt too much?” “Is this job— being gone 20-25 days a month— everything that I imagined for myself?” “How am I prioritizing my time and will it be effective enough to write a book?” “Is my marketing gig taking me away from what I really hope to do and become?”

Until now, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a space in my life where I didn’t really want to let anything go. I love my life— the wonder and magic of it all. I also sacrificed a lot to get here; to become a corporate flight attendant. It’s literally the COOLEST JOB IN THE WORLD. But, “Am I willing to walk away from the surety of something good for the possibility and hope of something greater?”

This applies to your job. This applies to my relationships. This applies and applies and applies. If you want a different life, you must do different things. 

And, the lows you face? These are your saving grace. These are your life changing, life defining, and life giving power points. It is in these moments that you begin to understand. You begin to notice what is important to you and who and what matters.

It was in one of these beyond low moments— when I was so low that I wanted to stop breathing— that my life pivoted into the beautiful adventure you see today. Someone Greater heard that prayer I yelled into the darkness; alone on a dirt road. “Don’t you fucking dare leave me here! Don’t you dare!!” Yes— I have no problem cursing in God’s direction. He has handled a lot of shit, and I’m quite certain he can handle a lot of my shit. It was that low moment, laced with expletives that was a miracle-turning point. If you can understand one thing from this blog post it is that, “Your low moment is only temporary. It will not last. BUT YOU CAN AND WILL LAST.On the other side of this place you are struggling is the clarity, cause, and completeness you seek. 

Being “complete” is not a point of arrival but a daily adventure. You are not your extra-high-high happy moments or your down-and-out ones either. You are you, and this is life. Life would be empty without the magic of who you are being a part of it. So, show up today; wherever you may find yourself and wherever you may be going next. Show up in this crazy, messy, beautiful ‘Flight Attendant Life.’ You do belong here. 

About the Author

Hello, I’m K. J. Watts, but my friends call me Kara. I fell into the sky and have worked as International cabin crew, on private jets as a corporate flight attendant, and earned an FAA Private Pilot Certificate. Over a decade ago, I started this blog, which developed into a love for writing and a debut memoir based on Flight Attendant Life. A California native, I now live in Sydney, Australia, where I enjoy spending time with my husband, writing, and surfing.

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