Life Lessons That I’ve Learned from Two Years of Flying

I have been flying as a flight attendant for two and a half years now. Those two and a half years included exploring different destinations, meeting different people, and working with different circumstances. I guess being a flight attendant taught me things that I should already know. These things are ideas that I have disciplined into myself even during days off. One of our trainers once asked us if we wanted to be a flight attendant and if we want to travel the world. Her voice was laced with so much challenge that I can still feel the intensity of it after hearing it three years ago. It held the promise that, just like everything else in life, it won’t be easy.

‘’Want to be a flight attendant?
Want to travel the world?‘’

*It is okay to be messy*

The job is glamourous, I admit, but it has its dirty side as well. Literally. I have cleaned toilets, mopped up blood, sniffed fart, threw diapers, and many more. For me to post those #wanderlust photos, I have to endure those and angry passengers, tiresome colleagues, and stressful situations. With that, I have no right to be all high and mighty. I learned to look down at myself. I learned that nothing is squeaky clean and perfect. I learned that all good things are to be worked hard for. I learned that there is absolutely nothing wrong and nothing to be ashamed of about going down on one’s knees and scrub the floors to achieve one’s dream.

Physical labor is hard. Mental exercise is hard. Practicing talent is hard. Whatever it may be and as long as it brings yourself satisfaction and honour, effort is still effort.

*Always clean after yourself.*

I know how hard it is to clean up after other people’s messes. How dare I make others clean up mine? I know how painful it is to be screamed at. I know how degrading it is to be blamed for a fault, regardless if it was truly mine or not. I know how helpless it feels to be the receiving end of a rant. How dare I make others feel that way?

J.K. Rowling once said in one of her books that to see how a person truly is, see how he treats his inferiors and not his equals. Just because you got screamed at by your boss does not gives you the right to complain to a waiter. You were both defenseless to both situations so why continue the cycle? Clean up after yourself and do not throw your physical, verbal, mental, and literal dirt in places where other people will get dirtied as well. Clean as you go.

Sure, there are people tasked to clean up after you but why make them when you are most certainly very capable of doing it yourself. Oh, most airlines task their cabin crew to serve food and clean the bathrooms. Yes, the same hands that handle your food are also the same hands that wipe the pee spots in the lavatory. We do not have designated cleaners like the local restaurant. But do not worry, we wash our hands. But, what if we don’t? *gasps*

*Always have your eyes open.*

The first year was automatically an eye-opener. There were new experiences left and right. There were new sights to see, new faces to meet, and new ideas to ponder on. The first year was the dream come true. The problem with that was, once the second year kicked in, the dream would blur to nothing. The sights get old, the faces age, the experiences get tiresome. I can say that I have gone through the ‘honeymoon phase’ of being a flight attendant. The real challenge is how do you keep the love for the career alive.

Everything is new at first so there is no need to make an effort to be amazed. Then, eventually, the routine reveals itself and one starts to get bored. The travel destinations do not evoke as much excitement as they did when I visited them the first time. Despite that, I do not coop up inside the hotel room. I go out and find something new to see. Even a walk in the park to watch the clouds is good for me. I guess what I am trying to say is to constantly have this unquenchable thirst for wonder.

Smile at every person you cross paths with and think how amazing it is that all faces are the same yet different. Read every story until you run out of stories to read. Watch every sunset until you see one exactly the same as the day before from the degree of heat on your skin to the size and shape of every single cloud. Listen to every sound until you hear nothing at all. Live each day as if it were your last.

*Know your worth.*

I am a flight attendant. I greet passengers. I make them comfortable. I keep the cabin clean. I serve them food. I fight cabin fires. I administer first-aid. I fight possible terrorism. I save lives.

I am a daughter. I take care of my folks. I provide for my family. I ensure their security. I hug my parents. I bond with my siblings. I defend them.

I am a woman. I dress up. I chat with others. I move with grace. I dream. I work. I achieve. I make things move. I fight for humanity. I take care of my earth.

Knowing one’s worth is recognizing one’s role in society and finding its importance in its mundanity and severity. It is the mix of humbling yourself to work more and uplifting yourself for celebration.

I still have a lot of years to go. Who knows? I might not be a flight attendant anymore by then. What I am certain is that being a flight attendant instilled in me important lessons that I have only reviewed in school. Truly, nothing beats experience as the best teacher. She is not the ‘copy-these-notes-and-memorize’ type. She is the ‘squeeze-it-until-your-head-bashes-in’ method.

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