It’s official. You finally sent me my involuntary furlough letter. After four and a half years, on October 1st, my time with you is coming to an end. I guess this is what a Dear John letter feels like.
As I read my letter, all I could feel was anger. Not anger over the furlough. We all knew it was coming. The anger I felt was toward myself. You see, I changed who I am to fit the role you wanted me to play. Don’t get me wrong. I am polite, friendly, customer-service oriented…all the things you saw in me during that final face-to-face interview before I was invited to initial training. However, as gracious and friendly as I am, I also don’t tolerate abuse or mistreatment. At least I didn’t before my wings were pinned on me during graduation. As my career with you began, my brazen confidence mauved into fear. Fear of not completing my six month probation period. Fear of missing a call from crew scheduling (I took showers with my iPhone for Christ’s sake). Fear of rude gate agents (*cough* Houston). Fear of mean flight attendants. Fear of being written up. Fear of your bitchy schedulers and their 2am phone calls, your insufferable, and sometimes incompetent, managers, and fear of putting your entitled premier status passengers in their place. I was afraid of not being perfect—an aspiration that is unattainable since human beings have to make mistakes in order to learn and grow.
I subjected myself to treatment that I do not deserve, and in the process, I allowed myself to become a neurotic basketcase. I don’t even know who I am personality-wise anymore. How many awkward social situations have I been in where I had to defend you because of the negative publicity and bad press that seems to follow you around like a dark storm cloud? I swallowed my pride and my ego during many situations that I found myself in as a result of being a flight attendant at your airline, when what I really should have done was tell you to go stick yourself in the upright position and then go on and live my best life.
I have said it before and I will say it again—there is no glamour in being a flight attendant. Sure, there were good moments. Like the excitement I felt as I posed for my first photo on the staircase that led to the upper deck on the 747. But like brief flashes of brilliance, they were fleeting, and all I was left with was an illusion of what I thought my career should look like. Of course, as with all bad relationships, you romanticize an idealized version of who you think you are involved with and turn a blind eye to their disappointing qualities.
I changed who I am for you, and as much as I’d love to blame you just because it’s easier to do so, it was all my own doing. I blame myself. I’m responsible for my actions, and if I allowed you to make me feel a certain way, I have to hold myself accountable for that.
I’m grateful for our time together, but relieved it’s coming to an end. I was never the real me in your presence, and for that reason alone, I should have walked away years ago. At least now I can start finding my way back to me.
More importantly, I no longer have to allow my mind to become consumed with worry or fear.