I stand on the ramp— cuddled between rain-soaked multi-million dollar jets. The sun timidly peeks through puffy white clouds; lost in a sky that can’t decide if it wants to be deep blue or angry grey. I shiver as the chill of an uncharacteristically cold winter breeze engulfs me in reality. 

This. Is. Hard.

I’m not flying yet, and that reality, actually hurts. It hurts like a breakup. It hurts like something is ‘really’ missing, but you can’t exactly put your finger on it. It hurts like subtle doubt creeping into my consciousness. It hurts like uncertainty, frustration, and impatience. It hurts like the hurt that tears you down to build you back into a better person; allowing you to one day belong to a better place. It hurts like I’m looking for every exit to drive away from these emotions, but I know escape is not my answer. If I want to thrive, it’s time to embrace the way that I am currently being challenged and be grateful for it. Someone once said, “Escape is easy. Change is hard.”

Kara Mulder

I’ve gone from daily, global escapes working for an international airline to the change of starting over in a grounded life. Right now— I’m “in it.” I’m in the space of not having the words to tell you how it feels. I keep telling myself, “This— this space and time you are in— it’s not the time to cry. It’s time to work. Keep working. Keep believing. You chose this career for reasons. Remember your reasons.” I ask myself questions that I haven’t had to ask before. I haven’t asked these questions, because I haven’t had to stretch in this way yet. The questions that you ask yourself are more fundamentally impactful than you realize. I’m working at being cognizant, aware, and critical of my personal questions. If I want to thrive within this space I don’t enjoy being in, I have no other choice but to ask better questions.

So, many people— incredible leaders, world-changers, and inspiring individuals— have created a thriving existence no matter their circumstances. They’ve lived through, and in, much worse; and yet they remain joyful, hopeful, and sure. What is actually quite beautiful about the ways that I am currently challenged is that a new set of questions has resulted. “What is it about them— those who I admire and want to emulate— that makes them rise above the most daunting of realities? How are they so different? How can I do what they do and live the way that they live?” 

Griffin Bruehl Male Corporate Flight Attendant

Happiness doesn’t begin when you are finally allowed to fly. Happiness starts on the ground— at the most fundamental, basic level. If you cannot find happiness amidst the “bitch work,” your joy will always be as fleeting and unpredictable as your changing departure schedule. You must learn to accept that happiness always begins in this moment and not in what you will accomplish in the next. 

Kara Mulder

You have to understand something about your destiny: Everything in life has a cost and everyone who has ever made meaningful accomplishments and significant impact paid their dues. They paid-in when no one was watching. When people didn’t believe in them. When they weren’t compensated. It’s not like we can expect hand-outs. I know that when I do start flying, I will appreciate being back in the sky SO much more. I know what it took to get to it. Isn’t it somewhat conceited to feel so entitled to think that because I’ve done this, this, and that, that I deserve to fly right now? It is skewed logic. The world doesn’t owe you anything, but what do you owe your job, yourself, and your legacy? I’m creating this narrative of confidence, patience, belief, and gratitude. What narrative are you creating in your world?

I know how tough reserve is as a new flight attendant. I completely feel you when no one wants to put you on your first private jet flight. I have been through the feelings of wondering if I can survive another back-to-back ten day trip. And you know what? I don’t have the promises that it’s going to get better and you will actually achieve what you dream or that your expectations will be met. Hell. The reality is that that could never happen— for you or me. But maybe, that’s not the point. Maybe the point is to always stay curious, ask better questions, and learn how to shine brightly in the worst of storms.

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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