Fear of Flying

source: flickr (calafellvalo)
source: flickr (calafellvalo)

Airports scared the living daylights out of me. To me, they were no less terrifying than planes and the mere thought of setting a foot in either one of them turned me into a ball of stress.

Luckily, today I had some extra time to figure out this labyrinth. To my surprise, I somehow managed to find the right terminal and gate without getting lost too many times.

With at least one hour to spare, I considered wandering around the shops to kill the time, but soon discovered it wasn’t the best of ideas–in times of extreme stress, my legs turned into a rickety construction, threatening to collapse any second.

So I sat down and waited.

Come on, I told myself. Millions of people choose flying as their means of travel every day. If they can do it, I can do it. There is nothing to fear. 

Soon–though honestly, I couldn’t even remember getting there–I was buckled in my seat, with my heart in my mouth. The huge pile of metal I was now trapped in was about to rise tens of thousands feet in the air.

The engines came to life and we were informed to fasten our seatbelts. I knew that it would be a good while till we moved to the right runway and took off.

At the front, a stewardess was demonstrating all the safety procedures and while most of the passengers appeared rather bored and didn’t pay much attention, I kept my eyes glued to her–partially for distraction and partially because I did not want to die.

Relax. You’re not gonna die. There’s a higher probability of getting hit by a car right in front of your own house than dying in a plane crash.

My throat was so dry I could barely swallow. I thought of getting a drink. A strong one. On second thought, I didn’t want to risk dizziness or other nuisances. I’d sooner kill myself than vomit on that sexy guy occupying the seat next to mine.

At least there was someone to hold me in his arms in case our lives were about to end.

See? That’s positive thinking!

Next to my possible future husband sat a woman, probably in her forties. Smart clothes and a computer in her lap suggested that she was a businesswoman. Being on a plane was surely nothing new to her.

Everyone around me appeared relaxed. Some people had already fallen asleep.

How on earth do they do that?!

I looked to my left, out the small window and realised I should have made a wiser choice while booking my seat. How was I not going to lose my shit the moment the earth started to disappear in the clouds?!

The engines were getting louder. The plane was gaining speed. There was no turning back now.

I ordered myself to calm down. And breathe. Deeply. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale… I suddenly felt like there was not enough air to fill my lungs.

So there I was, on board of a plane, pressed to my seat, with a high risk of a premature heart attack, very unaware of the fact that I was squeezing Mr Handsome’s hand like there was no tomorrow, probably leaving permanent crescent nail marks in his flesh.

As we finally took off, two thoughts ran through my head. The first one was: IDON’TWANTTODIE. The other one was: If I die now, at least I’ll die chasing my dreams. With my eyes squeezed shut, I tried to trick my mind into thinking I was still on my beloved earth, travelling by bus or train, and the next stop would be the beginning of something I had always yearned for.

Even though I was still scared out of my mind, a smile formed on my lips. I was finally doing it.

I was living my life.

Fun fact: I wrote this a while back, before I even had any experience with planes. My first time was… a weird mixture of extreme stress plus a little bit of excitement and curiosity. I obviously refused to sit next to the window, cried during the take off and kept my eyes closed for almost the entire duration of our travel. My second flight was even worse–definitely shouldn’t have had that coffee right before heading to the airport! The third time was okay. No more tears. My fourth flight happened just a few days ago and I still wouldn’t call myself a fan of flying, but I definitely felt more relaxed. I voluntarily sat next to the window and took tons of pictures of the clouds.
I’m curious, what are your experiences? Does the thought of being on a plane terrify you, or do you love being up in the air?
PS. An important lesson for today is, whatever you do, don’t let fear stand in your way!

5 thoughts on “Fear of Flying

  1. I love this story. The fear is vivd and I could feel the anxiety.

    Unfortunately in my line of work I am required to fly from time to time. I hate it. I fake calm pretty well, but I am barely keeping it together.

    I do allow myself a strong drink to take off the edge, but it doesn’t make the experience much more bearable.

    1. Thank you so much for this comment! I’m glad you can relate to the story. To me, flying means going on holiday and I’ve never been on a plane for longer than 1,5h. If I had to fly on a regular basis, I’d probably hate it too.

  2. Flying. Fear. Such strange things. I’m afraid of heights and claustrophobic, which means flying should terrify me. But it’s no big deal. How does that work? Are you just afraid of flying or are there compound fears at work?

    1. I have no idea. I think in my case, it’s the fear of what could go wrong. Flying is said to be the safest means of transport, but somehow, I feel much safer in a car/bus – even though accidents are more likely to happen on the road. And what are the chances of surviving a plane crash? So maybe in the end it’s the fear of death that tells me to avoid planes…

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