7 months ago, I took a special assignment that took me out of the sky and grounded me for a while. I traded in my wings for a clicker and took a special assignment (a temporary assignment) with the Corporate Learning team at work as an Inflight Instructor at our headquarters in the Bay area.
Why would I stop living the glamorous, flexible, freeing lifestyle of a flight attendant to work in a normal, routine, job? For lots of little reasons and one big one: routine.
The last time I had a sense of routine was when I was living in Portland and working at Intel, 3 years ago. Even though I worked on a global team where I'd have 7am meetings as well as 7pm meetings, I generally worked Monday - Friday and had a routine/schedule that worked for me. I remember I would wake up early and go to the gym, I'd go to work all day, I packed lunches, I would make social plans after work--in other words, I was living a full and rich life. Nowadays, not so much. I'd go away for a few days for work but when I came back, I had no energy to do anything when I came back. Or I'd jump another flight and use those travel benefits to go visit someone or some place. I never felt like my room was clean or that I had groceries because I was rarely home. While I knew people in the Bay area, it was hard to make plans because of my schedule and lack of energy, so I didn't feel like I had much of a community which made it lonely. I never really knew what time it was, let alone what day it was, and my diet consisted of airplane food, hotel food, and airport food. I was burnt out from reserve so I was flying minimum hours. My bank account gave me anxiety. I was the heaviest I've ever been and in the worst shape of my life. And I just felt kind of blah. Maybe a routine would finally give a chance to reset physically, financially, and emotionally.
7 months later, some things have changed, and others haven't. Before you ask me, I don't know which one I like more because they both have their own set of pros and cons, so it just depends on the day/hour/minute you're asking me the question:
- I set a goal when I took this special assignment: I didn't want my dress to fit me when I went back to the line. Mission accomplished. It's amazing what sleeping in your own bed, in the same time zone, and having a regular bed time as well as wake up time can do for your body. Ditto making and eating your own food. Extra points when you make a drastic diet change. And you won't believe what happens when you throw in working out. I won't lie, for the first week I was exhausted and felt terrible. The carb flu/sugar withdrawal effects are real. But then you feel great. And your clothes fit better. And the number on the scale drops, and drops some more, and drops even more. (I will make the disclaimer that I followed a slow carb diet for two months or so but haven't consciously followed one since July or so and have been able to generally maintain where I'm at.) I've also started working out again, kinda sorta, recently which has helped me with sleeping better and feeling a little stronger but I still don't feel the same energy levels I remember feeling before. Hoping that the combination of all of these things will continue to improve how I feel physically.
- Once I got a line, I would fly minimum hours because I was so burnt out from reserve life. (A later post will have to come explaining the airline industry terms.) I had worked 100+ hours for over 6 months, so I was dropping down to a way more manageable 70-75 hours in terms of a schedule, but not so helpful with the bank balance. Since I made the switch, I've worked almost 200 hours every month, which is almost triple what I was flying (another post to come about how flying hours work because it's not as straightforward as you might thing), so I've been able to rebuild some of my savings as well as pay some of my bills. Still got a ways to go, but it's relieved some of my anxiety that exists around my finances.
- Emotionally... it's been a little bit of a roller coaster. When you're not flying somewhere every day and find yourself with hours to yourself, you start facing things that you might have been avoiding. And by you, I mean me/I. On one hand, I've found myself with more time but I've been feeling overwhelmed at what to do with the time. Truth be told, I've been lonely. I've met some wonderful people, as well as some not-so-wonderful ones. I have friends in the Bay area that I know I can reach out to, but sometimes I don't have the energy level to do so. Or friends have their own full, rich lives that they're oh-so-happy to share with me when they can, but those moments can be far and few between. So, I'm trying to embrace that loneliness/time alone, which as an extroverted introvert can be great but also challenging. I've been reading more, which has been really nice. I've started blogging again (with this experiment) which has been challenging, but also really nice. I've spent more time on identifying things that I'm happy with, things that are fine, and things that have been draining me. I've had some tough conversations. I've had lots of emotional moments. I've had my highs and my lows. But I'm still here, I'm still working on it, I'll still continue to work on it.
Overall, I'm grateful. Grateful for the opportunity. Grateful for the experience. Grateful for the ability to go back and forth. Simply grateful.