I can’t believe it’s been a year.
On August 16, 2015, I packed my bags, loaded the car and left the only life I knew. A whirlwind of change surrounded me as tears rolled silently down my cheeks. It was time. This was the moment I had been waiting for my whole life, and all I had to do was step on the gas pedal. Then why was it so hard? Was it too surreal? Did I not believe it was actually happening? After what seemed like hours I slowly wiped my eyes, and off I went. There was no time for my vision to be blurred. It was time to start doing the things I always swore I would do (The Last Five Years).
“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.”
Let me backtrack a little. I’m describing a memory that will live in my mind vividly until the day I die, but before I jump into all that, here are the series of events that led to this significant day in my life.
March 1992-April 2015: Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world (Journey). Sorry sorry, that was bad, even for me. But really, I spent the first 23 years of my life living within a 8 mile radius of the hospital I was born.
I call it my bubble. It was home, it still is. But it didn’t take long before my mind started to wander, and I knew that place could only be my starting point, not the destination. I yearned to leave and find myself in the anonymity of a new place. I wanted to see, do, and be everything I could be in this life. With grade school and continuing through college in my hometown however, my time had never come. Looking ahead at my looming graduation date, I knew my chance was soon arriving.
May 2015: It was on an otherwise forgettable afternoon that the seed I had been waiting for was planted. Who do I have to thank? My dear sister and sweet confidant, Rachel. I find that when I am lost in desire or motive, she reawakens my spirit. She knows my heart, and often provides the ground I can walk on when I’m unsure. This conversation proved no exception.
In the middle of griping about my complacency (common at the time), she suggested that I become a flight attendant. I scoffed. What did they even do? Why would she even suggest that? Little did she know, she was unlocking a deeply buried door in my heart. She was giving me a chance for the freedom I always wanted, but didn’t know it was just on the other side of that pair of wings.
Read more in my first blog post What a Splendid Adventure.
After more prompting and research, I finally turned to applying for a few airlines. I already had a job though, one that I loved, so I figured there was no loss in no gain. However, in only a matter of days I received an invitation for an in-person interview with a major airline. The catch? I would have to be able to start within a month of my interview date, which they thankfully let me postpone (don’t forget about looming graduation).
Although things were more unsure than ever, I felt in my heart that as the graduation date approached, so did the end of my time at home. I had no guarantee of even being offered a spot in training, much less successful completion to even officially nail down the job! But be it fate, divine intervention or sheer instinct, I knew it was time to get ready.
June + July 2015: It was in these months that I prepared in every way for what was possible, although I believed it in my heart to be absolute. I talked to my current boss, went to a thousand doctor’s appointments (even got my wisdom teeth removed!), moved back to my parent’s house, and started planning a graduation party. I remember my parents encouraging me to not spend money on a party, and to save the money for something else… However I knew somehow that it would be my official send off, and I wasn’t willing to give that up. Little did I know just how quickly the transition would be.
July 22, 2015: I waited patiently, and finally drove down to Houston for my anticipated in-person interview. I probably spent more than 30 minutes talking to 3 different individuals, when I was finally told I was offered a position at training. My first thought? Yea, that’s not real. This isn’t happening.
“Your training will start in 3 weeks,” he said.
“Okay,” I thought, “I’ll play along.”
I got back in the car, and all of a sudden, every fiber of my being finally soaked in what had just happened. Cue the waterworks. I have no idea how I even made it home. 3 weeks!? That means I’m leaving right after graduation!
August 8, 2015: But first, it was time to take my final bow. Throughout my college years, my passion for performing led me to audition for a theatre in my hometown. I always tell people to chase after things that make them feel alive, and that’s why I chose to spend my time singing and dancing (often at the same time! – Spamalot). I performed with this group in over 10 productions, but it was never any applause that kept me coming back.
That group of people is my chosen family in this world. You don’t spend every evening and weekends at a place that doesn’t have some sort of irrevocability. I found that in that space I could truly be myself, and I developed lifelong relationships I would never be able to live without. The people at this theatre have permeated every area of my life, celebrating my joys and carrying me through loss. There is such a special place in my heart for each and every one of them.
I will miss the tap dances and split tableaus, “vocal warm ups” and the warmth of the stage lights. But I won’t have to miss my friends, because that bond is immovable. Still, the final scene and bows of The Addams Family were plagued by my uncontrollable sobs. I didn’t even like the idea of saying “see you later” to this home.
August 14, 2015: I strapped on my cap and gown, and left my 18 formative years of full time schooling. One more step towards that freedom! To be completely real here, graduation was fantastic because it was closure for the blood, sweat and tears I put into my degree. Beyond that, I was just glad it was over. I’ve never been one too fond of graduations in general, but I was just happy to be out from behind a desk.
The real treasure was getting to celebrate at the graduation party that evening. If you know anything about me, you know that (as a party planner) I love having a reason to celebrate. Nachos, gelato and a margarita machine were my lures to getting to be surrounded by the people in life I treasured most. I couldn’t believe I was going to be more than a 10 minute drive away from them for the first time ever. I loved my bubble. It was safe, and always full of love.
August 15, 2015: My last day at my former job. I had been working full time as a Wedding Executive my last year in school at an event production company. The job, although challenging and different every day, was so incredibly fulfilling. I never thought I wanted to do weddings specifically, but there was something special about being able to be a part of someone’s ‘best day of their life’ every time I went to work.
With the guest list at this particular wedding topping at 1,000, I went out with a grand finale. While everything (mostly) went swimmingly, I will never forget the terror that was that 500 piece cake I had to cut in front of every one on a STAGE. Cool. That night I truly realized how passionate I was about event planning, but I was sure in my decision to start pursuing other dreams. That evening we finished late as usual, packed up our equipment, and I said goodbye once again to a huge part of my life.
August 16, 2015: And we’re back. Back to the moment that my fingers clenched the steering wheel so tightly I thought I couldn’t press on. With my eyes stinging, the speed on the Texas highway I was driving no where near matched my heart’s racing.
This was the day I left for flight attendant training. As I spoke of before, my belongings were strewn across the back seat, and the only direction was forward. I had worked, prepared and dreamed for this moment, and it had finally arrived.
That drive was significant, because it was the moment that I stopped being a dreamer and became a doer. Actually developing into the person I said I was my whole life started with popping my bubble. It is the most exciting and simultaneously terrifying thing I have ever done.
The moment we found out we passed our evacuation evaluation
(most difficult part of training)
August 17-September 17, 2015: Flight attendant training became my world. My profession as a flight attendant was no where near solidified, because my career was not secure until those wings were pinned on my chest. It was here that I worked harder towards a goal than anything else in my whole life. I refused to just succeed in my new environment, I wanted to thrive.
The desk I was so eager to leave when I graduated college became what I clung to. I studied not only to pass, but to make a 100%. There was not a second that I wanted to put to waste when so much was at stake. We were in training 6 days of the week, and were tested every day on paper and in practice. The pressure of performing evacuations and safety procedures became a means of motivation for survival and continuation through the program. I’ve never been so stressed in my life.
Looking back I realized that a lot of the anxiety was not necessary, because along with my fellow trainees, we were there for a reason and perfectly capable of succeeding. But I believe we all felt the pressure of having left everything behind in order to pursue this path, and we didn’t want there to be any chance of it being taken away. With this goal common to all of us (and the fact that we all lived in a hotel together), we started to bond, and I found friendships that will last a lifetime.
September 18, 2015: Graduation day. Yes, again. This was the day that myself, along with 47 of my fellow trainees, got that shiny piece of metal pinned to our chest. It was finally solidified, and I had done what I set out to do.
I felt so honored to have the chance to speak at the graduation ceremony, because I had the ability to truly elaborate on what this experience had meant. I could not have been more grateful that our resilience and motivation brought us there that day. Getting to look into the faces of the dreamers that took that leap of faith with me was indescribable. What an adventure we were beginning.
Read more about my experience in training in Getting my Wings.
September 23, 2015: After a short 4 packed days at home, I loaded 4 equally as packed suitcases into the car. The next step on my journey was to relocate to my base. Over 1,600 miles I flew and somehow maneuvered my luggage into a hotel room. I don’t think that officially leaving Texas really had sunk in yet, but I could still feel a small lump in my throat. Was I going to be okay? Was I going to regret this?
October 1, 2015: I believe when something is meant to be, the doors that are needed swing open. At the beginning of October, my roommates and I officially moved into our new home. During training, we were assigned our base pretty early on, and had since been meticulously searching for a good living situation. It was pretty scary, because when we were relocated, we were technically homeless after our stay at the hotel was over.
But as perfectly as could be, a place revealed itself to us. We were so lucky to find a two-story house, each with our own bedroom, safe and secure in a neighborhood that has endearing character. I still can’t believe how it all worked out, and there’s no doubt in my mind it was another sign that I had walked down the right path.
Today: This year has (literally) flown by. Every day is completely different, and my heart has grown ten-fold for the people I’ve met and the places I’ve seen.
From leaving the United States for the first time, to living 4 miles away from Times Square in New York City (read more), to eating a Belgium waffle in Brussels (read more), to spending my day on a pub crawl in London (coming soon), to riding a gondola in Venice (read more), to sticking gum on a wall in Seattle (read more), to seeing the graffiti streets of São Paulo (read more), to riding a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (coming soon), to dancing at a park in Milan (coming soon), to drinking a beer in Munich (coming soon), to eating gelato at the Trevi Fountain in Rome (read more), to feeling alive every single day, and to constantly go places that remind me how small I am… This world has captivated my heart, and wanderlust has seeped into my blood.
Never in a million years did I think anything that’s happened in the past 365 days would happen to me. I don’t say any of this to boast, because in highlighting the good I don’t share the sacrifice and transition this past year has truly been. But every day I have woken up knowing I didn’t make a mistake, and even better, feeling alive.
“Stop creating a life you need a vacation from.
Instead, move to where you want to live,
do what you want to,
start what you want to start,
and create the life you want to live today.
This isn’t rehearsal. This is your life.”
I followed my heart, and prayed eagerly for the day that I would find out what I was meant to be in this world. And if I’m being completely honest, I still don’t entirely know. But of one thing I am sure. I won’t stop until I am proud.
Added Note: If you or anyone you know is interested in finding out more or have questions about the flight attendant lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to contact me! There is nothing I would love more than to invite you into the career that changed my world.
Keep up with Miss All Over the Place here!