It’s over ten years in— or maybe it’s your first year— but either way, every bright and shiny element of flight attendant life is faded; dull and tarnished by your jetlag, the worst of travelers and those god-damn sassy stews who overshare everything from the Union drama to last night’s “laid-over life.” You try to smile politely, but your smiles are more of a pursed-lipped grimace. “Oh gawd,” you think to yourself. “Is this what it’s come to?”You don’t want to be here, serve one more diet coke, or listen to all of the complaints and deal with the delays. It’s gotten so bad that you sneak into the lav for a breath of fresh air (irony) and so that, for just one second, you can drop the facade. You actually cry for just a second. You’re just sad. You’re supposed to love this job and you actually don’t. You really, really don’t right now and that breaks you. Where did the wonder and beauty go? You completely and finally understand why that one guy snagged two beers and slid to freedom. You want and wish to jump. To disappear. To do anything but fly. If only you had one reminder of why you decided to do this flight attendant job.
I’ve got you, boo.
Close your eyes. Think back to when you put your uniform on for the first time. Remember how magical that felt? How much of a princess, superhero Goddess you felt like? And those butterfly nerves of going to work? Of meeting and working with your best friends? Remember that?
There was a time when being a flight attendant didn’t make you feel trapped, but the lifestyle made you incredibly free. You felt like you had the world at your fingertips and extracted every ounce of joy out of each day and each moment.
That’s probably still there, but you may need to adjust your career slightly. The thing is about airlines is that they don’t encourage growth and human nature demands that we grow and learn and change if we want to continue to revel in wonder and happiness. You’re bored. You’re tired. You’ve been working too much.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to remind yourself of why you do what you do is by taking a break, by stepping into aviation in another way (i.e corporate flight attendant, pilot, gate agent, etc), by pausing and remembering what it was like when you lost your traveling job.
I’ve lost it; the job. I’ve cried on jumpseats. I’ve cried in hotels. I’ve cried driving to and from airports. I’ve cried because I hated it. I’ve cried because I left it and was stuck on the ground. Not only have I left to reinvent my flight attendant career, I’ve been forced by an injury to be grounded for the better part of a year. That broken ankle has done three things for me now—
I work as a corporate flight attendant now and literally get physically ill over how stressed-out I make myself. I love these trips but am pushed to my max. I can’t fly nonstop because I turn into a maniac. I have to have my intense fly days interrupted by days when I crash; when all I do is lay in bed all day, meet up with one friend for coffee or go kitesurfing.
When I start going crazy and need a reminder of why I love my job and do what I do, I MUST step outside of it. I must rest. I must kite with dolphins and go to church and write. It’s not worth living a life you are not happy with and doing a job that makes you feel dead inside.
But, I doubt you are really unemotional over this. You don’t quit because you love what you do. You love going to work. You just feel a bit lost right now. Well, Sugarpie…did you know that’s totally ok? You’re just at this place where you’ve explored who you are as a flight attendant and are now ready to explore what your flight attendant job can give you and get you to outside of aviation; outside of a workday.
I think you still love your job. You’re just overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. I’m sorry. That probably won’t change anytime soon, but know that I love and appreciate and admire your strength and resilience. For now, Miami may still be Bae, but this is a reminder to hold onto hope. There is a plan to this place. There is a plan, and there is a purpose specifically made and designed for you.
Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.