Taking flight

Courtney Brooks

Everybody is afraid of something. You can ask any human being on the planet his or her biggest fear because without a doubt, he or she has one.

courtney bw

If he or she tells you otherwise, just walk away because he or she is lying and you’ll be wasting your time.
Fears can be anything for any number of reasons. Some people fear being alone while others fear being in crowds; some are afraid of spiders while others are afraid of dogs. Fears are very personal, and although we can’t always explain them, you can bet they are always there. My biggest fear has always been flying and I am proud to say I finally conquered it.

If you’ve never really sat down to think about it, you probably don’t even realize how frustrating it is to have a fear of flying. It’s not like flying is a necessity, and I’m sure those of you who get faint-hearted at the sight of bridges or spooked in the dark encounter your fears on a much more regular basis, but this fear of flying was mine and it is something that has always held me back, especially in college.

Flying has limited me right from the start of my college experience. Would I have loved to go to a college down south and escape from the long, Connecticut winters? Of course! But the thought of having to fly back and forth for breaks and holidays made me sick to my stomach, so here I am. Then Spring Break comes around, and as people book their vacations to tropical islands and all-inclusive resorts, I just sit by and watch. Can’t drive to an island, which means I can’t go.

Everybody has told me it’s not that bad and I’ve heard all the statistics about how you are this much more likely to die from driving or from walking than from flying, but none of this gave me any ease. There is just something about having no way out of a plane, no way to reach safety should something occur that I could not get over, that scares me. Factor in all these “missing” planes that disappear into thin air, or the pilots who lose it and crash the plane for reasons that remain unknown, or terrorists who hijack planes and send them straight to their doomed fate and it is safe to say that thought of stepping on a plane was enough to give me a heart attack, never mind the thought of actually flying in one.

My parents made the mistake when I was younger of underestimating the power of my fear. They thought that it was just a phase, something I would either grow out of or overcome if the situation to fly presented itself to me. So for my tenth birthday, they booked a trip to Disney. I was so excited to finally see the amazing Disney World I had always heard about and I just assumed we would be driving there. Well, my parents had other plans. In a sneak attack, the morning of the trip, while I thought we were on our way Disney, we were really on our way to the airport.

As soon as I saw the planes overhead and realized where we were, I had a meltdown. I still remember my body shaking and getting all light headed, I was FREAKING out. Long story short, I couldn’t get on the plane and I ended up missing out on my dream birthday.

Well, they say history has a way of repeating itself and ever since I have been bound to determine to prove this saying wrong. Fast-forward 11 years down the road: this past Spring Break, I was about to turn 21. The birthday of all birthdays, the one we all look forward too, and I was blessed enough to have the chance to spend it in Las Vegas. The only thing between my dream birthday and me was, once again, the dreaded plane ride. I prepared myself for weeks leading up to the day, this time much more knowledgeable that I was driving to the airport and not straight to Sin City.

As we pulled up, I again felt my body go weak and my head get dizzy, but I knew what I was getting into.

Once I made it through security, I knew that there was no going back. But I had the support of my friends next to me and I felt ready to conquer my fear. I’m not going to say it was easy, as I walked onto that plane in which I was sure would lead me to my death, ready to vomit in the nearest paper bag I could find, but I did it.

And it felt incredible!

Conquering your fear is one of the best, if not the best, feeling possible. It’s overcoming something that you have internally always struggled with and it shows your growth and your strength. It turns out I was scared for nothing. Flying isn’t half as bad as I expected and as long as you keep the windows closed, you can’t even really tell you’re off the ground. It is a small price to pay for the vacation of a lifetime and it opens the doors for many more memories to be made in the future. I’ve learned that fears only hold as much power over us as we let them. Most of the time, we build them up to be so big in our minds, but when we face them we realize that we were worried for nothing. If you have a fear that is limiting you or holding you back, I encourage you to face it and conquer it; it won’t be all that scary after all.