I watched intently as she described what it’s like to be flying right now. A tear slid down my face as her voice broke with emotion. “It’s more lonely than ever on the road. It’s so different.” I sighed deeply. The weight of a pandemic, losing incomes, jobs, travel, life as we know it, glared ominously. I paced my small apartment, uncomfortable. Aching. The pacing didn’t dissipate my confusion or the total collapse of sadness I was about to fall into. Walking into my bathroom, I slid to the floor and sobbed. I’m not sure why the bathroom was determined as the best place for a meltdown but if Liz Gilbert, in the first Chapter of Eat Pray Love found the bathroom to be an ideal location to reach God, and a new life, the bathroom floor couldn’t be the worst choice.
Crying often feels like its own story, a story for when words fail. My sobs came deep from my core. “You’re not even crying for how much money you’ve lost. You’re not even crying over the money,” I repeated to myself, surprised. My sadness was deeply rooted, nestled beyond the power of money. It felt like I was blindsided by a breakup. That although I hadn’t had a perfect relationship with my significant other, he showed up one day, unannounced and unexpected, to tell me we were done. “Wait! What?!” I wasn’t ready, expecting, or prepared for this. My mind played rewind to all of our memories together for the past nine years. The constant travel, growth, and adventure. And just like that, it’s over. Flight Attendant Life has changed and although we as flight attendants are familiar with change, goodbyes, and adapting, this is sad. This is just sad.
Strangely, I’m not crying because I desperately wish to take a work trip or to travel. I’m sad because, ten years ago, I said a prayer to the heavens to take my life. I told God that I had no purpose and no place and didn’t want to live anymore. I told him he better not leave me here, in my mess. That was when I found Flight Attendant Life. I never knew a job could help heal, find myself, and change my life. It always was more than a job. It was a constant companion, my rhythm. It was a vehicle to find my purpose and place in the world.
I feel like I owe so much of my existence, life, and happiness to this job that was (and is) so much more than a job. I think about the extensive travel, the people I’ve met, and the way I’ve transformed. My tears communicate a mix of gratitude and sadness. I don’t think I ever took travel for granted. I just never understood how fragile it really was. I know things will turn around and we will once again be flying, and the way life is in a pandemic will be a memory. I know this, but I also know as flight attendants, our lives have turned completely upside down in the span of three weeks. We are all figuring out how to cope.
I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning, which is not normal for me (But what the fuck is normal anyway?) I had a difficult time doing anything. I made a ‘To Do’ list of tasks which included “Put on makeup,” “Do dishes,” and “Take a shower,” as it was a day when I found it easier to stare at the wall than face anything else. Not till hours later, on the floor crying in my bathroom, did I realize why my motivation was lacking. I’m sad.
And this is sad— what’s happening to our world, health and the aviation industry. I’ve been using my time productively. I’ve been doing my best in navigating this new space, as I believe we all are. But I also haven’t given myself a moment to acknowledge that, “It’s ok to be sad.” I’m tired of people in my life telling me, “Just stay positive.” “Money isn’t everything.” “You wanted out of flying anyway.” Please stop. Just give me the respect and space to be sad. Because I know. We all know.
I know it doesn’t make sense to say a job “saved your life” but when I was 23, being a flight attendant saved my life. And if I never had it, I don’t think I would be here, crying. I’m so thankful I am here, crying. Because what’s worse than feeling happy or sad is feeling numb. Nothing. Empty. Emotion reminds you that you are alive. If it wasn’t for Flight Attendant Life, I wouldn’t be here. The sadness I feel is deeply laced with gratitude. Love. Optimism. But, it’s ok to just be sad.
I don’t need to fix it, change it, or have anyone tell me it will all be over soon. I learned through travel how fleeting moments can be. I remember being in Sweden or Philippines or Florence, Italy, so present and so alive fully knowing that the moment would pass. I would attempt to take the deepest most vivid mental picture that I could because I wasn’t sure when the gift would be over. I knew the gift, the moment, had an expiration date.
Life is so fragile, and yet, it’s so beautiful. Even home, even in a pandemic, I find beauty. I see flowers and time as I never have before. I’m so grateful to be alive to know this emotion of sadness. Know how much I’ve valued a career and an adventure that I can be this sad over it. I’m grateful to know that God is walking in this with me. He’s proved that in the past. I don’t expect Him to abandon me now. When I yelled at Him, ten years ago, He didn’t leave me there. When I broke my ankle and thought everything was over, He didn’t leave me there. He’s not going to leave us here. But that isn’t the point. All I really wanted to say is that it’s ok to be sad. Period.
Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.