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Friday, November 2, 2012

Facing my fear (that I didn't even know I had)

This week I went on a holiday. Only problem was that it required me to fly and I haven't done that in 14 years. I was never scared of flying when I was younger and I did it quite a fair bit and always on long flights too (England, Singapore, Dubai etc) . Fast forward a few years and I have no idea what happened, but it appears I now freak out at the thought of flying. My main fear is what if I die? Obviously. Then, what if T dies and I survive? I personally think that would be worse than dying. Then, what if we crash and I'm lost in the bush by myself? What if we crash in the ocean? What if the plane catches on fire when we crash? And so on and so on. So, basically, I'm scared of crashing and dying. Two things that never really crossed my mind much when I travelled before.

The beauty of travelling as a child is that you are innocent and sheltered so you don't worry about the million and one things that can go wrong because you don't even know that they can go wrong. The problem with getting older and gaining all that wisdom is that you are aware and try as I might I simply can not remove it all from my head. I think 9/11 has had a big impact on my fear of flying. Last time I flew I had no knowledge that terrorists even existed, let alone the fact that they might try to take over a plane to fly it into something just to make a point. Its probably more safer flying now though with all the extra security measures in place to stop that from happening, but again my mind still replays the scenario over and over in my head. Another thing that has probably shaped my fear of crashing is the fact that I always watch air crash investigation shows (I know, stupid right?). I love the analytical side of it and how they piece together what went wrong, of course this does mean that with each episode I watch I learn yet another thing that could go wrong (and it then gets added to the subconscious scenario playing over and over in my head). Despite the fact that there is a 600 000 000:1 chance of dying in an air crash, my mind still assumes that I will be that one.

So with all this floating around in my head, off I went to fly. It was only a one and a half hour flight, but that's not the point. I was so nervous, but still never thought about not getting on the plane. Besides, after checking in my baggage there was no way I was not getting on the plane, my clothes were not going to Sydney without me. I also wasn't letting T go without me, so I had no choice really.

Taking off was scary and exciting. It was like going up on a roller coaster just before the big drop, but without the drop after the climb (at least you hope it happens that way). Its exciting knowing you're going to be going so fast and lift off the ground and yet also petrifying knowing that in order to fly there will no longer be any ground. Once I got over the stress of taking off and T regained feeling in his hand (after I deemed it was safe enough to release my grip) I actually enjoyed it. Climbing through the clouds is so amazing. I have mentioned before I am fascinated by clouds, so to actually be passing through them was so totally awe inspiring. If they were storm clouds it probably would have been a different story, but thankfully they weren't. We couldn't take photos while we were ascending  but once we levelled out I made T take some photos for me (he got the window seat by chance, which in all honesty was probably a good thing).

Its so peaceful looking down at the clouds

They're so fluffy and perfect

After the relatively calm part of the flight came the dreaded words "please fasten your seatbelts and prepare for landing". What goes up must come down. Again, I was wanting to land and petrified of it at the same time. I really really wanted to be back on land (especially after having to circle the airport while being delayed in air), but I figured if anything was going to go wrong this was probably the time it would happen. T lost feeling in his hand again, I nearly threw up (from looking out the window and then in the cabin back and forth about ten times during descent), but in the end everything went fine. In fact landing turned out to be less traumatic than taking off. Best part about landing was that I was now in Sydney and ready to enjoy my holidays (and it was a whole week before I would have to fly back again - yay). I did it. I did not let my fears stop me from living life. I faced them head on, even though I was scared the whole time.

As you have probably guessed by now, the fact that I'm writing this post means we also didn't crash on the way home. We are not dead (kudos to the pilot's for that). We also had an amazing time in Sydney and it was pretty eventful (more on that in a later post).

Sometimes its best to face your fears rather than letting them stop you from doing things. Once you get past them the rewards are very much worth it. I wouldn't say I am entirely over my fear of flying, but I have successfully chipped away part of it (I was much calmer on the way home and didn't strangle T's hand), which can only be a good thing.

Toni xx

Would you like to comment?

  1. Glad you faced your fears and had such a good time. Next time it'll be easier.

  2. Woo hoo! It is always such a liberating feeling when you face your fears and succeed. Glad you took the plunge and tackled it. (Love your line about the 'terminal,' too! )