small changes can lead to big differences.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

At the End of the Day, Do We Really All Just Want to Fit IN?

I saw a sign in the airport that showed a picture of a suitcase that said those exact words - "at the end of the day, we all just want to fit in" and it reminded me of my last great adventure - my interview at the big airline.

No, I didn't get the job. I didn't even make it past the first interview. I was nervous but confident, and I thought I was pretty qualified for the job, seeing as it is the exact same thing I do now. I almost cried when I didn't get it, but I couldn't. The entire day I thought I'd be more upset than I really was about it because being hired by the big airlines means you've "made it". It means you can look down on us regional stews because you were good enough for the big leagues and those guys aren't.

When I thought about all of this while I waited for my flight home to Chicago, I couldn't help but think "What the fuck?"

Is that what I really wanted - or needed? To finally feel like I made it, that I fit in, that I am successful? Do I really need a job or a recruiter to define what I feel is success, and do I really need to strut around bragging that I work for the big leagues? Uhh.. no. It's almost like 7th grade Marjorie came out - the same one that wanted to fit in everywhere. I wanted to be in cheerleading even though I couldn't care less about the actual act of cheerleading. I wanted to be in basketball even though I really hated the game. I just wanted to be part of these teams because I wanted to belong. Even in highschool, I found a way to finally "fit in" with the "misfits" by shaving my head and not giving a damn about what people thought of me. In a way, I still belonged to a group.

Fitting in and the act of trying is so exhausting. There are always more groups, more events, more steps to climb and you never really "make it" because you're always trying to get to the top. You never actually feel at peace with yourself because someone will always have it better. I never actually wanted to go over to the big airlines. I didn't want to give up my freedom - because at the regionals, you do get to choose your schedule and work where you want with who you want. You get time to travel every month if you wanted to! Over at the big airlines, you sit on reserve (on call) every month for years. You do get paid more, have a better union and better benefits, but I never wanted to give up my freedom to travel since that's why I do this job. (and I do enjoy the work, too)

I like staying in Chicago. I have a good home, good friends and my family is close. I have a life outside of my job, which many flight attendants don't. (And that's okay too.. but it's hard to have a life when you're on call 20 days a month.) I'm able to separate work from my real life and it's pretty great.

And here's what I think is the truth: So many people live vicariously through this flight attendant lifestyle. On the go, living out of a suitcase, traveling to exotic and foreign places, meeting celebrities - it's all really great and I love it! But so many people let it define who they are. They fit into the flight attendant world, and they run with it, because not everyone can do this job. They like to be set apart from everyone else. But I've found that when I let something like this define me, I lose track of who I really am on the inside and what I really want in my life. I didn't apply for this mainline job until November, and I literally was like "Ugh, well, I guess I should apply.. you never know..". They've been hiring for a year, and if I would've applied last year, perhaps I would've gotten the job. (I'm pretty sure they're done hiring, they just have to look like they're hiring right now.) I don't think I ever wanted this to be a career for me. Eventually, I want to find a good job working with animals or people or the environment where I can exercise my self-starting-totally motivated - change the world skills. & perhaps in 20 years I'll look back on that day that I sat on the steps in Houston, wondering what I did wrong and why I'm not good enough for this job, and think "that was the best day of my life."

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