“The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.” —Tyrese Gibson

Becoming a corporate flight attendant taught me a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I’m tougher than I imagined, yet softer than is healthy. I was once reminded by a seasoned (and jaded) pilot that, “In private aviation, you always have your own back. Don’t ever forget it.” The way that he had said the words seared harshly into my psyche. The industry is not a place to trust, expect, or act entitled. It’s both magical and menacing; an adventure that offers no guarantees and one best kept at arms length. 

As a corporate flight attendant, sometimes you are the favorite choice. The calls for trips don’t stop. Other times, you wonder whose ass you forgot to kiss. Often, hidden behind multi-million dollars of manicured wings and perfectly plated food is an unforgiving and fucked up world. It loves you one day and hates you the next. I’m not sure why I’m feeling the harshness of business aviation so heavily right now. Nothing specific has happened to trigger my current state. The pilots, planes, dispatchers, and companies that I work for are some of the best in the industry and have treated me well. Not only are they wonderful to work for, the operators and clients pay on-time and uphold high-standards of safety and professionalism (Did I mention business aviation can be scary?).

The understanding that I am beyond blessed to be amidst the opportunities and experiences that surround my existence does not go unnoticed. Just realize that every dream comes with a cost. I believed that after a year of flying, I would feel less like an outsider and that the hustle would find a subdued resting place. What I didn’t understand is that, as a contract corporate flight attendant, the hustle never rests. The difference between me now and a year ago is that the hustle then fueled my fire for more. “Could I fly more than twenty-five days this month? Cause I did 18 last month and of course I want to top that.” “Can I beat my highest grossing month financially?” Watch how I juggle marketing, blogging, and flying seamlessly. No problem.” Check. Check. Check.

But what if in all the chaos of the hustle, I forgot the dream? I never wanted to be the most successful flight attendant. I just wanted to be happy.

I hoped for an adventure, and holy shit, this corporate flight attendant experience has been more adventurous and unreal than I ever envisioned. I’m grateful that (somehow) I had the courage to step into the unknown and challenge myself to go into a direction that terrified me. That built me. That gifted confidence. I owe so much of who I have become to private aviation. I owe so much of who I am to the hustle. Love it or hate it, appreciate the struggle, the pain, and the uncomfortable moments in your life, relationships, and career because it’s in these experiences that you grow. We are nothing without the hustle.

I still want to be a corporate flight attendant. I’m not closing this chapter, I’m simply evaluating where I need to make edits to the contents. Subtract that sentence here. Add a paragraph there. Take a writer’s-block writing break for clarity sake. I have some work to-do with who I am and what I want. I feel a little like the last few months engulfed me in a cloud of stress and anxious energy. I literally have the best job in the world and ‘Best jobs in the world’ are meant to be enjoyed. You are the creator and director of your destiny. Don’t act like you are a helpless bystander. If you don’t feel like the best version of you, take a brave act and look at how you design your days. What can go? What can stay? What do you dream and believe and pray for? What about that? 

Fickle and finicky, private aviation will never be your best friend or a favorite confidante. It is best used as a stepping stone to strengthen you and refine you. I have an incredible amount of respect for the men and women who succeed for decades and create security in the uncertain and unpredictable field of corporate flying. You are superhero-narwhal-unicorns. For sure. Oh, what? You say those don’t exist? My point EXACTLY.

Never let private aviation or whatever it is that you do define you. Don’t let money drive you. Don’t let peoples’ meanness derail your kindness. Don’t let the cost of your hustle cost you LIFE— like true, giddy, undeniable alive-ness— the kind that is filled with contentment, purpose, and joy. Every dream will include a hustle. Every dream will require a sacrifice. You need to be certain that you are willing to pay the price for all the dreams you whisper to fruition. And be aware enough to know when you need to adjust your hustle level to create a more happy and contented you. 

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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