Getting my Wings

imageSunday, August 16 is the day I left the life (geographically) I had spent building for 23 years. On this morning, a short 2 days after graduation, I moved from my hometown to begin flight attendant training. I will always remember the emotional goodbye with my parents. It was daunting coming to understand for the first time in my life another hug from my Mom and Dad would be further than a 15 minute drive away.

I finally got myself into the car and headed down the highway toward my temporary home for training. Tears were streaming down my face for the majority of the trip, but the absolute best kind. These were the tears of simultaneous terror and excitement; I strongly believe a good cry can grow you. I grew stronger every mile I let myself take in the immensity of that moment.

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try” -Seth Godin

When I arrived, I was soon greeted by someone who grew to be my rock in training, my roommate. She immediately was so warm and welcoming, I mean, who knew a hotel room could be made into a home by 2 individuals unconditionally supporting each other? Throughout the upcoming weeks we shared stories, advice and quotes that motivated us. It was so purposeful that we got to share that time together, because her words gave me the strength I needed to get through the challenges from training.

To speak of the training process, I can honestly say it was one of the most difficult and rewarding things I have ever done. I will never forget how I felt the first day, in my perfectly pressed and lint-rolled pin skirt, walking into the unknown. Our job was contingent on our successful completion of training, so I knew that I had to do whatever it took, not only to succeed, but to thrive in my new environment. I soaked in as much information as I possibly could in those weeks, pouring myself into studying harder than I did in the last of my college years (it was the universe getting payback, I just know it). We were told to take it day by day and trust the process, and then the results would come. Completing training will always be an accomplishment I beam about, because it tested my limits physically and mentally. Because of those trials, I have come to be even stronger and more self-motivated than I believed myself to be. There’s no better feeling than knowing you set a goal and did what it took to achieve it. Seriously, none.

What will always stay with me the most from training are the people I had the privilege of becoming friends with. Fantastic human beings from all areas of life, hand-picked to have the opportunity to connect and serve individuals all over the world. Without each other, I don’t believe any of us could have made it through training. We were put in a situation to be exactly the support each other needed, and passing each challenge was only made sweeter by seeing each of my classmates do the same.

In training, each of us was given an opportunity to succeed, and we were our only obstacle. I loved this aspect of training, because each of us had the opportunity to prove what we were made of to our new employer, but mostly, to ourselves.

Being at training felt like a combination of being on a reality tv show and summer camp. Try putting a group of 50 people who want to see the world behind a desk for 5 weeks to study. It took a lot of discipline (and coffee). Each of our lives was on hold for the chance to start this new chapter, although none of us knew what lay beyond training. We didn’t even know where we were going to live!

Graduation day finally arrived, and we were more than ready. I could feel the lump forming in my throat as the time for us to get our wings drew closer. “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry” I kept telling myself. I was so overwhelmed by everything that had happened those 5 weeks, and everything that was about to happen. This end was just the beginning of the rest of our lives!

I was incredibly honored to be able to reflect on our class memories at graduation. It was a privilege to have a few minutes to try and encapsulate the lifechanging experience we had all been through. There is something absolutely magical about how a group of people that come together with one common goal become more than co-workers, they become family. I hope everyone in that moment never forgets to believe in their value, because what we each brought to the table is what got us there that day.

We have our instructors to thank for the wealth of our experience. They taught us that being a Flight Attendant was more than just smiling and looking pretty, it’s the opportunity to touch millions of lives and gain exposure to an abundance of culture. That is what truly makes this job the best in the world.

Most of all, in this moment it was so important to thank my family and friends. Each one of you helped me realize the value of my dreams, and provided the solid ground to take a giant leap of faith from. I would be no where near where I’m going if I didn’t know you were standing behind me. I am so grateful.

I will remember the way I felt that day the rest of my life. When those wings were finally pinned on my chest, I knew the adventure was only beginning.

“Let today be the day you love yourself enough to no longer just dream of a better life; let it be the day you act upon it” -Steve Maraboli

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