I’ve always been a pretty independent person; in my first year at University I was never one to need someone with me to leave the house, and I will happily plan my own journeys/get things done for myself. However, one thing I had never done before was do the whole plane thing, completely by myself.
You see, I’ve been flying on planes since before I could walk (Literally – my first ever plane ride was to Miami for my parents wedding 2 days before I turned 1). I’ve been quite lucky to have been to a multitude of countries, experiencing the whole airport/aeroplane/destination sequence more times than I can count. When you fly semi-regularly as a child (FYI, by semi-regularly I mean like once a year) you learn the process pretty quickly to the point where you could very easily do it by yourself. However, the idea of flying without the safety blanket of my level-headed, responsible parents still seemed incredibly daunting…
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve planned and embarked on a couple of holidays without my parents. However, these have involved travelling with friends, who can tell me if I’m going wrong, and share the blame if things go awry. They provide their own kind of security blanket… One where I share a little bit more of the load, but a blanket nonetheless. I guess they’re the security light summer sheet that you use when it’s too hot for a blanket; it does the job but at a lighter level, not exactly providing the same kind of support. But, at the end of the day, a blanket is a blanket regardless, and the thought of travelling completely by myself, no support at all has always left me with the same kind of questions…
What if I get on the wrong plane?
What if I can’t find the terminal?
What if I end up on a flight to Antarctica and I don’t even realise and neither do the multiple flight attendants or passport check people and then next thing I know I’m in Antarctica by myself and I don’t have data because it’s too expensive but I also don’t have WiFi because polar bears don’t need WiFi, so I’m just stuck on Antarctica for the rest of my life to become a penguin I guess? I don’t even wear black and white that much anymore…
You know, the usual things.
So, when I got accepted onto this program in Chicago (More details coming on the program in Wednesdays post) it dawned on me that I’d have to accept my ultimate adult fate of taking a plane entirely alone. And of course, because I clearly have the best luck, my first ever flight by myself was going to be an 8.5 hour flight all the way to the states. Don’t get me wrong, I was absolutely ecstatic to have such a great opportunity and I’ve been dreaming of going to the States for years. However, for a first ever flight alone, it was a pretty intense one, and I was very accepting of my inevitable new life in a WiFi-less igloo.
Of course, (spoiler alert) I made it, and didn’t end up an old penguin’s mistress. In fact, I realised that flying on your own isn’t half as daunting as it first seems. The truth is, like most things in life, all it really requires you to do is follow the instructions, and be at the right place at the right time. Also, surprisingly enough, they will in fact let you know if you try to get on the wrong flight, and will even go as far as to point you to the correct one. In fact, as long as you adhere to the basics, and ask staff for help when needed, you really can’t go wrong.
The thing is, I’d always taken flying alone to be this colossal impossible deal in my head. Yet on completing it, it felt like something I’d been doing my whole life, because I had been. (I would have said “it was like riding a bike” but I’m clearly not good at that, see why here). It felt like nothing as I was doing it, and I made it to a different country barely thinking about it. Two years ago I wouldn’t have even considered flying to a different country solo; the thought alone would have sent me into an endless stream of panic. Yet here I was, walking through the airport like I had many a time before… It didn’t matter that nobody was there to help me, because all I needed was myself.
Sometimes we don’t notice how far we’ve come, and it takes looking at things you’re able to do now to realise that a lot of our progress is small and silent. Flying alone didn’t feel like a big deal, but to past me, it’s a massive step in an independent direction.
Have you had any moments in your life that have made you realise how far you’ve come? Let me know in the comments!