I sit at dinner with acquaintances. For over an hour, a person at the table went on and on about how stupid people are who won’t get vaccinated and, ‘What are they thinking?’ The person continues that, of course, these stupid people are not thinking. They must not have brains. I sip my sparkling water, nod, and smile demurely. I’m thankful for my career as a corporate flight attendant that has taught me to hold my tongue and pretend all is perfect. My smile is more of pursed lips and a jaw-clenched grin, but this goes unnoticed in the face science.
As soon as my boyfriend and I get back in the car, my perfect presentation crumbles like a sudden and jolting California earthquake. “I just sat for an hour feeling like a complete idiot because I don’t know what to do!’ Tears stream down my face. It’s just a vaccine, I think to myself. It feels like losing the freedom to choose.
There is so much shame associated with waiting to get a vaccine. Everyone has their opinion and beliefs, founded in science and The New York Times. I’m not a doctor, scientist, or conspiracist. I’m a flight attendant. The year before the pandemic, I made closer to $200,000 in my career— better than most doctors, scientists or conspiracists. After the pandemic, the implications that vaccination has on an aviation career are broad. Financially, it’s crushing. Emotionally, I am torn. Physically, I wonder what would happen if I want children someday. There’s no history to this. No one is liable.
“It’s like what charter operators did before the pandemic,” my boyfriend reminds me. “Just replace vaccination with: ‘We want a male flight attendant. We want someone young, pretty, etc. etc. Now, it’s ‘We want someone vaccinated.’ I thought I would beat this industry in some way, maybe change it for the better. That was naivety. I’m coming to the realization that, maybe, I’ll always be a pawn in someone else’s chess game in private aviation. It’s 2021, and I’m genuinely tired of playing. I’m looking for full-time, remote writing jobs outside of aviation (if you hear of any, let me know). I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I am not ready to make a decision about my body like this yet.
I wonder how all of this is constitutional, but what feels more invasive than someone asking about your medical choices, is being told by someone who is like a mom to you, like family, that, “You don’t really have a choice now do you.” I haven’t called her recently or gone see her because I am not accepted or welcomed until I make the choice that is what the majority believes to be right. I wish I knew what was right. I wish I didn’t feel secretly shunned, stupid, or was so stubborn.
I loved being a flight attendant because it allowed me freedom. There is no freedom in my profession now. I felt a little freedom last week. It was magic, and I was grateful for the reminders of how beautiful being a flight attendant can be. I’ve debated for weeks on writing anything at all. I’d rather just hide and pretend my life makes sense, and I’m making the best decisions. I don’t know if I’m making good decisions. I fucking don’t know. I wish I could just make the decision that was popular, because it sucks to be shunvaccinated.
I think soon, I won’t have a choice anymore. I’m not afraid of the vaccine. I’m also not afraid of illness. I simply don’t care to be forced into anything. If there is one thing I have learned throughout the past year it is that I took freedom of choice, freedom of speech, and freedom to hold a different opinion than the crowd for granted.
Maybe this post will be censored. Maybe you will think differently of me. To both, I’m sorry. I never started a blog to be popular. I started it to be me. I don’t want to travel the world, be a corporate flight attendant, or work on multimillion-dollar planes. I want to be free. I’m still not sure that it’s vaccination and masking up that will get us there.
Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.