That ‘Other Life’

I have discovered over the last five months, I am a workaholic. Literally, addicted to my “dream job.” Oddly, it was never my dream to work so much or travel only on a billionaire’s schedule. All I thought that I wanted was a job like my commercial flight attendant life. One that allowed for my own travel, an unconventional schedule, and foreign destinations— but that paid better. A job that would allow me to work when I wanted and only three to five days per month. As a contract corporate flight attendant, that’s a little how it is; in theory. Currently, I am completely free to design my days, but I push myself hard and constantly. I work a lot more than three to five days per month— partly because I never know when the work will stop. Partly because it’s really exciting to go to cool places and meet new people. Partly because this job is so creative, and I am always learning. But, mostly I work a lot because I am addicted to this rhythm. I’m addicted to this life.

I have not learned the art of ‘How-to be home.’ The constant packing and unpacking, the jet lag and adrenaline of what could be next, the continuous movement and reward of a flight well done is when and where I feel most in my element. The simple truth that there isn’t time to eat or even think is noticed in the dullness of my skin, darkness under my eyes, and collarbone that protrudes a little bit more after every trip. I don’t think about how “this much” might be “too much.” I don’t have the energy to wish that I could have that relationship that is confusing— the one that I really want. The one that always brings a tinge of sadness to my jet setting heart. I’ll just work another trip and be gone another day, so that it won’t hurt so much. If I am busy enough, I can’t and won’t acknowledge that flying may be negatively affecting my ‘other life.’ The reality is— I’ve completely and successfully suffocated any other life I could live other than ‘Flight Attendant Life.’ I have the best life, and I have no life.

It doesn’t have to be this way and isn’t this way for everyone. My schedule kind of snuck up on me. I realize that I often choose to take a private jet away from everything that I cannot fix, cure, comfort, change, manage, mold, achieve, or understand. I take a private jet away from what I really intended for myself, and for my life, by doing this job— to the extent that I choose. I had planned to use this job as a tool to get to my goals in writing, relationships, and career but have allowed the job to overwhelm every part of me. And yet, I am still loving it. That’s what’s confusing. I love my job and never knew you could burn yourself down with something you love so much.

As a corporate flight attendant, I thought that my relationships were going to get better, not worse. That my bank account was going to thrive, not that I would wrap my value into every flight and every dollar made. I have to tell myself constantly, “Your worth is not by how many days you fly, if you beat your best month financially, or if you say yes every time and never let anyone down.” We do this. I know we all do. We tie our value to what we do, what we have, and what we desire. The words may be different, but the effect is the same. “Never enough.”  When will and when can just ‘being’ be enough?

The truth is, I don’t know how to just fucking “be.” And, it’s driving me crazy. I’m better abroad. I’m better busy. I’m better on autopilot. At least I think I’m better, but mostly, I’m just dizzy, confused, and have yet to embrace how to ‘land.’ I’m the girl who fits best on an airplane, traveling the world. Very few people actually can get this job, so because it’s mine, it’s where I matter most, right? I don’t really believe that, but I throw everything into what was never meant to be my everything.

You are this one person away and then come back to your home life. It’s not that you change, but you have a completely different role. What do you do when you come home and realize that the ‘local world’ didn’t pause while you were gone? You have the life that they envy, and you can escape the daily drama, but what you never escape from is the uncomfortable way you attempt to reintegrate into ‘normal society.’ Why should their life stop just because you bounced out of it for a week? While they deal with the traffic, the 9-to-5, and the most exciting thing being happy hour on Friday night, you check yourself into another hotel room, see one more UNESCO site, and Netflix your jet lag away. You know what you do is not that exciting, but they couldn’t imagine that it would be less exciting than what they do on the daily. While you dinner with your crew, they back you up by making dinner for your kids. They do so much. You do so much. But, why does everything feel so separate— so disintegrated? How do you step back into the life at home? How can they step more into yours and understand it better?

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Then there are those who fall to the other spectrum. You don’t get groundlings and don’t care to. Moscow, UK, Japan, Dublin, Boston, New York, California… No. That’s not your five year travel goals. That was your actual travel— just last week. They won’t get it, and you aren’t apologizing. You 100 percent love everything about the life you created away, and that’s what matters most.

It’s been months since I have done anything but land from one trip and get ready for another— squeezing in-between only what was absolutely necessary. I don’t even date at home anymore. There is only time for “Bumble Abroad” (which literally is the best btw). Currently, I’m sitting with time at home. It’s what I did want and blocked my availability to have. It’s what I have needed, but it’s awkward. It’s as if I’m the new kid, and I don’t fit in at this school. This lesson is NOT my favorite subject. I’m here, and I want to run. Nothing feels productive about home. I’m not making money, not dating but simply hopelessly into someone who isn’t into me, and thinking waaaaay too much about all the things I want to do with my life and don’t really know how to do. I take flight lessons and try to study my private pilot exam book and manage the one more month at my marketing job until I leave and think about the book I want to write— but I’m checked out. Not all present. Not all ok. I don’t get this season of life. At all.

I’m uncomfortable, out of place, and unnerved by the cadence of home. I don’t know how to be home. I don’t feel lost abroad, but I feel more lost than ever in love and relationships; career and life at home. I don’t have a group of friends like you would if you really lived in a place as long as I have. But, can I really expect a meaningful community when my last three months of work is a description of someone’s vacation…for the entire course of their life? My life is weird and wild, and at times, so completely hard for me to understand. Even after ten years of living life up in the sky.

I got the job, the lifestyle, the hobbies, the money, the passion and hope for my future that I wanted and work so hard to achieve. I’m really, really grateful for all of it, but maybe I had assumed that somewhere deep within me the fundamental driving forces of my character would change— “Once I did X. Once I had Y.” That I would learn how to say, “I’m tired. I can’t do that. I don’t really understand right now and feel heartbroken even amidst of happiness.” My circumstances have changed. I’ve grown. I’ve loved. I’ve learned. I make more money. But I’m still the same girl— curious, hopelessly hopeful, and undeniably adventurous as I was at my worst and most desperate moments. I still won’t give myself a break. I still am my most ruthless critic. I am more comfortable and confident with who I am than ever, but sadly, I never land long enough to appreciate the ‘she’ who I have become. When there is the time offered in ‘that other life’ to reflect, I tilt toward criticism instead of congratulations. I find this absolutely absurd and fucking ridiculous now that I think about it.

Appreciate that girl you’ve worked so hard to become. Give more time to the people that exist in the world outside of your flying one. You can’t be everywhere all the time and everything to everyone. Home might be the most uncomfortable place and your family doesn’t get it, but live where it’s uncomfortable. Just because it’s hard for you, does NOT mean it’s not good for you.

I’ll say this, not because you need to hear it but because I do:
Don’t use your job to escape from the places you need to grow most. Be there. Be present.

About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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