What I Learned On My First Flight

Originally publihed on The Odyssey Online on 9/21/15.

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My boyfriend planned a trip to Europe for my 21st birthday and gave me the tickets on Christmas morning. A predictable reaction would include lots of jumping up and down and hugging and smiling — which I was doing — but I was also starting to panic. I’d never been on a plane before and I was completely terrified.

I can’t remember when my acro- and aero-phobias really started, but I do remember getting stuck on the cable cars at Great Adventure when I was a kid. I remember being stuck on the wild mouse ride at Hershey Park. I can recall crying in a glass elevator at Madame Tussaud’s a number of years ago. I can’t pinpoint what sparked my long lasting fear of being off the ground, but it wasn’t just a little nervousness.

The next few months I went through many emotions. I created Pinterest boards for all three countries we would be visiting. I purchased guide books. I planned outfits for every activity. But I also had nightmares about the seven-hour flight there and double flights back. I spent time reading and educating myself on planes and their pilots, and I was able to talk myself into getting on the plane with a smile on my face.

I learned that the risk is almost always worth the reward. Had I not gone on that plane, I wouldn’t have had the best two weeks of my life!

A little bit of bravery can go a long way. Yes, I was terrified of that first flight. The small bit of courage I mustered up got me through all the turbulence and weird noises.

You can be afraid, but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. How will you grow otherwise?

When you have a problem, you don’t have to try to fix it on your own. On our flight home, the airline made a mistake and my boyfriend and I got separated. This was a huge problem for me. Rather than moping about it or trying to ask other passengers to switch, we talked to the flight attendants. They were able to find a solution with the help of some kind people so that we could sit together and hold hands during take off.

The flight was fine, as you could have guessed. Hell, I even enjoyed it. I loved looking out the window. I loved the friendly flight attendants and the snacks they brought. I loved playing trivia for hours on the screen in front me. I can’t say the full-day flights were my favorite part of the trip, but they definitely weren’t worth all the stress I had put myself through over them.

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