“Have you been out yet this morning?” Sybil, the older woman who I rent a room from, asks as she corners me in the kitchen. “No. I just woke up,” I say sleepily while patting the Golden Retriever, who has also cornered me in all of his cuteness, on his silky blonde head. “It’s 10am?!” Sybil continues. Her tone is one of alarm. “Are you feeling ok? What’s wrong with you??!” I smirk slightly. “I’m jet lagged. The claim is that it takes one day to recover for every timezone crossed. I’ve crossed fifteen timezones.” I let that sink in for a minute. “We are only two days into my recovery from the worldwide travel hangover,” I respond emphatically. To this, Sybil laughs and shakes her head. “My girl. You are a funny one.” 

Travel Life: All day, everyday…

I definitely feel funny. My body is confused. It sleeps in the afternoon, wakes up just shy of midnight, walks itself to the gym and eats at 1am. At least I’m eating. Unhealthfully, I don’t eat much when I’m working, and I’ve been working all of the time. Sleeping till 11am one day, to the next waking up at 4am, I just feel nuts. I haven’t been on an airplane in a week now. This feels foreign, slightly uncomfortable, and out of my norm. This is the most time off I’ve had in months. I don’t feel anxious that I won’t get flights. I probably could get one this week, but I just don’t know how I could manage. I’ve been flying so much that I met my physical and mental limit. It’s weird because I want to work this week. It’s what I know. I just need rest. Ironically, in the downtime, I don’t know what to do with myself.

I literally don’t know how to rest.

We wear busy like a badge of honor. The busier the better. I tout ‘hustle’ like my saving grace and all that is needed to succeed, but what if the hustle is natural, and it’s in calm that I feel my chaos? And what if I’ve been going about my lifestyle all wrong? My problem isn’t the need to work harder or more, my issue is that I don’t know how to make myself rest.

The days I’m booked shouldn’t equal my value. The dollars in my bank account are not indicative of my worth. The moments sitting by the fireplace and hugging my dog are not wasted.

Rest is just as necessary as movement. 

Rest is not the same as sleep. You can sleep off the jet-lag eventually, but rest will prepare you for another challenge and set the foundation for the next whirlwind. 

Rest is just as important as the hustle— if not moreso than your work ethic, determination, and focused intention. I just never talk about it because it is in rest that I feel less than. In rest I feel like I’m failing. I feel like I’m not doing enough. I don’t know how to rest. I don’t know how to include it in my life. I don’t know how to give time to my soul, myself, and my spirit. 

And more than ever, I know that I need rest. I need to learn it. I need to accept it, and I need to do it.

Rest is different than sleep. Rest includes the moments that you accept that you don’t need to “always be doing.”  That the world around you may not recognize that you want an existence beyond running around and traveling and going, going, going, but their recognition does not matter. Because you know you, and you know what you need.

This week, rest has meant that I stop saying yes to friends who want to talk on the phone. To marketing job demands that encroach on time I feel like using for doing nothing. On coffee meet ups with other corporate flight attendants. I need to say no because I don’t have anything left to give right now. I’m not sad or down or depressed. I’m just exhausted by consistent and constant demands and the lack of boundaries I have for my time and my soul.

Please don’t be like me.

The days of commercial aviation exhaustion

I want the world to leave me alone. I want these days to myself; without plans, without people wanting me to do things or be somewhere for them. I want to learn that I don’t need to feel guilty for not wanting to be everywhere or be there for everybody. If I can learn to be “there for me” first, I can eventually be available to serve and support those around better.

I’m not accomplishing a to-do list right now. I’m barely covering my must-do responsibilities. I only have a few days before the next round of trips, so I anxiously ponder how I should be more productive. There is the concept that crosses my psyche that the most productive thing I could do right now is hug my dog, lay on the beanbag by the fireplace and listen to an Elon Musk biography, and laugh with my dad after a flight lesson.

This feels like what I need most. I just need time to be. Although, I love my crazy travel life, I don’t really want it in its complete intensity. I just want a good life. I want a life that includes permission to rest and celebrates that as much as I reward myself in the hustle. 

What if rest was enough? What if I felt like I was enough? What if I learned my value isn’t so much about doing but it is in ‘being’ that I am enough? I know how to hustle. I don’t know how to rest. It’s the lesson I need to learn most. It’s a lesson that I think many of us could benefit from understanding and implementing. 

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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