She didn’t even attempt to hide the surprise in her voice. “Yooooou want a family?” She continued, “But you travel SO much!!!” I laughed. As if I was unaware of this fact…

Well, obviously. 

This was not the first time that I shielded reactions to my wish for a more traditional existence. Never do these conversations offend me, but instead, I feel a mix of sadness and irony; delight and satisfaction. Secretly, I love the built and branded persona of a girl who endlessly travels and lives for the opportunity to be away twenty days a month. There is a piece of me that enjoys that the average person doesn’t really know me but thinks that they might. That I can hide safely behind my job title. Then, there is a tinge of melancholy that always follows. Few know who I am beyond Flight Attendant Life and why I do this. 

My motivations to become a flight attendant were never driven by travel; ever. It has simply been an amazing perk of the job. The best perk. Never do I have to save to travel anymore, dream of travel, or hope to travel. I am paid to travel— and paid a shit ton. As a corporate flight attendant, travel is like breathing. I don’t think about breathing. I don’t think about travel. I just do it, and it just is. What I do think about is how desperately I want to be home more. Or have time that’s “my time.” You see, I’m on call all the time (technically). My life looks very free but I’m not as free as you would think…

Before you judge this is an issue of ‘Wanting what you don’t have,’ let me give you the reality. I don’t want to be the woman who never developed a community and connection because she got too caught up by where she was going next. This isn’t about hating anything that I have now. It’s simply about knowing that I want to create ‘different.’

After having five weeks straight in my Southern California beach town, I realized how much sacrifice went into building my career. I wanted to fly on private jets as much as I wanted to breathe, and to “make it” as a corporate flight attendant, that’s the mindset you must have. There’s no other way you will make it. Although, I don’t even know what ‘making it’ means, the shift I feel in my soul to being present and here and grounded is visceral. I want to stay so badly. Instead of saying, “I want to ‘make it’ and ‘make more’ and ‘go more,’” I now think— while surfing waves in Malibu and watching the sunset dip below the sand— “What do I want to make for me? For my life? For my happiness? For my future?” What sacrifices am I willing to make to move forward in a way that creates more than my current reality? 

I go to work tomorrow, and to be honest, I’m dreading it. Nothing about the job has changed. It’s still the most amazing, rewarding and entertaining way to earn a living. It’s me that has changed. I want a different ratio of work to personal life. While at the Hermosa Beach AVP Volleyball tournament this weekend, my bleacher neighbor and I began discussing the concept of “Work/Life Harmony.” The idea that work and personal life don’t need to be balanced, but both should be in concert; fitting with who you are and where you are at in life. This work/life harmony is also dynamic; changing based upon seasons and priorities. Some people are happy with working nonstop; like the billionaires on private jets. They are just wired in such a way that many enjoy working a lot. Some thrive with a 9-to-5 schedule. Others love the aviation lifestyle. I think the most important part is to figure out what fits your personality and be willing to reevaluate your priorities as you grow. You don’t have to do the same thing in the same way forever.

In my growth as a corporate flight attendant, there were months to years that I enjoyed the unrelenting hustle of twenty-five days of flying per month. I lived for it and loved it. I wasn’t ‘in balance’ and NOT even close to that, but my priorities and goals supported this way of life. My attitude reflected how harmonious working all the time was for me then. It actually did make me happy. Weirdly, being gone that much now feels like swallowing motor oil. It sounds yucky and dangerous. This internal shift has happened fast. Currently, I feel most at peace— not so much in the movement— but in the moments. In being here and by simply being. 

I thought that wanting to slowdown would always come when I met someone or had someone in my life. That he would give me a reason to stay and that I would change ‘when’ or ‘if’ or ‘then’— at some vague point in the future when a sort of miracle would happen. I believe in miracles but that’s not how this works. The truth is that people who claim that they will change in the future will never cash out on their promises. Change will last when internally motivated by self-love and personal clarity as opposed to when solely driven by external forces.  

Astonishingly, I have stumbled into the understanding and finally believe that I am enough of a reason to stay. I am enough of a reason to do all of those crazy dreams and things that really have nothing to do with Flight Attendant Life. That I am enough to treat myself with kindness, love, self-care, and forgiveness. That I am enough single and wanting to be in one place won’t make me feel lonely. That I am valuable and worthy; deserving to be happy, healthy, and whole. Instead of using my job to validate who I think I need to be, I will appreciate it as a way to support who I already am and who I am becoming. It is cool that my “side hustle” of working on private jets is not only lucrative, but it is really fun too. Not many get to say that they live a dream while building a dream. 

People are surprised when they hear me say that I want to be a mom someday. I’m often met with interrogation versus encouragement or understanding. “Are you sure you want to be a mom? I mean, kids don’t just go away. It’s not like you can pack them in your suitcase. Trust me. They will really tie you down.” Have you ever considered the fact that maybe I want to be ‘tied down?’ That maybe I do this suitcase life not because I want it to last forever and ever, but because it makes sense for now, and it’s also pretty fucking amazing. However, it’s still a job and not my sole purpose. It’s not my entire life— or at least I don’t want it to be.

I believe that you can have a family, a healthy marriage and a wonderful relationship as a pilot or flight attendant. I’ve seen it. I know it exists. I have said, “My schedule is NOT the reason we won’t work out” and it’s true to a point, but the way that I have been living for the last year and a half also isn’t the way I want to continue. I no longer want work to be ‘my everything’ and have determined to fight for my personal life just as hard as I did for my career.

I’ve recently outlined my dreams; breaking it down from 10 years to 6-months of goals. This might sound like too much detail or a bit nuts, but it makes all of the impossible seem manageable. It keeps me on track. If you didn’t realize, nothing in life “just happens”— even when it seems like it from the outside. You must always be an active participant in designing your destiny.

I am inspired by the last month I’ve enjoyed of beach life and personal reflection. My soul feels fed and peaceful. I no longer want to choose stress. I told myself just last week— when faced with a high-stakes flight— that “Nope. Stress is an emotion I can choose, and I refuse to choose it today.” This decision felt so much better even when after the first flight, I went back to my hotel room and cried out of frustration and disappointment.

The last four weeks at home were just too good to let my work world take over my soul. That doesn’t mean I will stop striving for excellence or stop caring for my job. I’m just too tired to worry about billionaires or private jet companies or boys liking me. I’m too tired to keep worrying about everything I cannot control. Instead, I’ll choose to do the best that I can and let the rest go.

Home feels kind of bittersweet. I don’t want to go back to work. I just don’t want to be gone anymore. Beach life fits me so well right now. I feel like I belong here and I’m in the best shape— physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally— that I’ve been in my life. I don’t feel like I belong at work and in the place I am with my career, but I understand it to be a tool. Like you need food to exist. I need work to exist. Work serves a purpose which is not as sexy as calling it a ‘Dream job.’ Responsibilities are responsibilities and this career allows me to enjoy my life in the way that I do. That’s a dream I’ll take for now; while working to create a story that allows me to go when I want and with who I want. This will take time. It also may sound impossible and idealistic, but if I told you all of the secrets, you would understand that I’m already living in “impossible.”

This blog isn’t written to complain about everything that is wrong and everything I want that I don’t have. I actually am not even sure if what I write makes sense. It’s so very different than the way I’ve thought and written in the past. Very simply, all I am trying to say is that I’m going in a totally different direction. That I’m not going to settle. As far as what you can expect in the future? You will see private jet office days, a lot of beach days, surfing, kiting, fitness classes, flight lessons, books, latte art, and a true appreciation for all the blessings this adventure has to offer. And, I’m sure you will see a few surprises along the way, too.

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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