Do you like to travel?
Traveling is one of my greatest passions for realz! I just loooooove me some new places, the excitement of meeting fresh people, eating far-from-home-food and especially hitting the beach. Mmh!
But there was one HUGE turn-off that ruined my travel enthusiasm for years:
FEAR OF FLYING!
Usually I’m pretty bad-ass, but if you wanted to scare the crap out of me, you just had to book me on a flight.
Weeks before the flight I would feel nervous already. Uneasy. And embarrassed too.
Because, you know… “flying is the safest way to travel”, “the most dangerous part is the drive to the airport”, “statistically speaking…” Bla bla bla. You’re simply not supposed to be scared on a plane.
Well, I sure was.
So today I wanna get up-close and personal with you and share the story of how I overcame my biggest fear. May it be an inspiration to thee, my friend!
Waaaaay back in the days when I was just a little girl, it made no difference to me if you sat me on a plane, car or train. I was pretty much bored on any kind of vehicle.
But this changed dramatically at the time when I was about 17. With every flight my fear grew as if I was feeding it sugar-frosted cake for breakfast.
It grew up to a point where I went from Vienna to Sicily by train!
That’s a freakin’ ISLAND 2000 kilometers away! Fuck my life, right?
It was bad.
My fear was insanely strong. If a flight was even slightly turbulent I was close to a panic attack: Tears in my eyes, sweaty hands, heart racing and thinking we’re all gonna die. True story.
So how did I go from a nervous wreck to an almost relaxed passenger?
I booked myself on the scariest 3-week-long trip of my life. Alone.
The route was this:
Vienna – Cologne – London – St. Lucia – Trinidad – Tobago – Trinidad – St. Lucia – London – Amsterdam – Vienna
Featuring big ass planes with 500+ people as well as tiny propeller machines with like 18 seats (kill me now!!!).
Naturally I was already freakin’ out weeks before my first take off.
I got lots of advice from everyone and their sister about what kinds of pills I should take to knock myself out. But I NEVER EVER took a single pill.
I did NOT want my fear to have such a huge impact on me. I wanted to conquer it instead.
That’s right, fear, I won’t be your slave anymore! (insert heroic music here)
Alright, so when I made it to Cologne, I cried. I have no idea why but there I was, crying at the airport. Alone. Shivering at the thought of what’s yet to come. Calling my mommy.
Why the hell did I do this to myself?
After I pulled myself together (kinda), I decided that I gotta do something.
So if you’re having irrational fears yourself (popular examples include spiders, heights and dentists) and you’re dying to conquer them, apply my strategies. Here’s what I did and you can do too:
1. Educate yourself
I used the 15+ hours I had to spend at airports all by myself to read.
I learned how planes work and what the sounds are. I learned about the backup systems (there’s up to 3 of ‘em on a decent plane) and about turbulence. I learned about what the pilots need to do, their checklists and working hours. I learned about the clouds and how cargo pilots apparently are the rowdies of the sky.
I was well-informed and prepared! This helped A LOT!
2. Make confessions about your fear
I told the guy sitting next to me as well as the cabin crew that I’m super scared. Hell, I even went into the cockpit to talk to the pilots about it.
EVERYBODY was super sweet and understanding. Nobody laughed. The pilots shook my hand and talked to me about our route. They reassured me that everything was fine and I got to see that they’re nice and decent people. Not crazy Not on crack. Not seemingly 17.
I felt safe and trusted the pilots much more after talking to them instead of just hearing their voice through the speakers.
3. Find your own natural “pill”
I thought to myself, if I have to spend a night at London Gatwick airport anyway, might as well stay up and have fun.
Fun was nowhere to be found though so it was boring as fuck. BUT I only slept like an hour.
So when I got on the plane I was a) too exhausted to be scared and b) drifting off to sleep quite soon. Plus: I slept almost 5 hours on the flight which made it much less of a pain in the ass. Yay.
There’s always a way to trick yourself out of fear – drug-free!
4. Focus on the bright side
Yeah, yeah that’s cheesy and you’ve heard it before. But it does work!
I read a quote that had a huge impact on me and it went something like this “You own the world when you fly over it”. Huh. Do I, now? That’s kinda cool…
The quote made me see flying as the amazing thing it is, it made me look out of the window (impossible before!) and enjoy the beauty of this planet from above.
I wanna remind you that you always have the choice of what to focus on.
The negative or the positive, my friend? What’s it gonna be? :)
Long story short, I safely made it to Trinidad and back home, had the best time of my life and didn’t die! And since I bravely mastered something I considered absolutely impossible, I’m just not scared anymore.
I don’t particularly love flying now, but I’m not freaking out like there was no tomorrow anymore.
I’m cool now. I can watch a movie. Complain about the food. Possibly complain about the movie.
What’s the bottom-line?
Fear is stupid unless it protects you from REAL danger.
What’s your irrational fear?
Do you have one?
Did you overcome one?
Let’s share this stuff in the comments and be an inspiration to each other. Or something.
PS: I’m contributing to a courageous charity project together with other amazing entrepreneurs right now. It involves flying too – out of a plane! It involves a courage revolution and raising $10.000 to build a school in Nicaragua. It’s awesome.