|Photo courtesy of answersforpilots.com|
Like most teenagers, I lacked confidence, but on top of that, I was painfully shy and a certified, card carrying people pleaser. And the person I wanted to please most was my dad. He, of course, was a pilot. Plus being a pilot sounded adventurous, and if anything appealed to me, adventure did. So, I knew I had to do it. But first I needed the money. So, I applied for and won a flight scholarship to pay for the instructor, rental of the plane and fuel.
Turns out, I was a natural.
On the ground I was insecure and anxious. But, in the air I was confident and fearless. The most nerve wracking part was talking to my instructor because of my social anxiety. With a mere 8 hours of flight time, my instructor deemed me ready to fly on my own. Not only did I feel ready, but I was relieved not to have to make conversation with anyone other than the control tower. And that required only the most minimal, concise and factual communication. I could do this.
When the day came with my mom and instructor watching from a window in the small airport of my hometown, I conducted the preflight and taxied out to the runway and took off, gingerly pulling the nose up, the wheels leaving the ground. That's when the stall siren in the Cessna broke the silence warning me of imminent danger. And a weird thing happened. Nothing. I didn't second guess myself. I didn't radio anyone to mention the malfunction. Because for the first time in my life, I trusted me. I wasn't in a stall, my flying was text book and I figured the indicator must be broken. I flew the flight pattern three times around the airport as was required, with a siren blaring at me the entire time. Before I brought it down for the perfect landing.
I'd never been proud of anything I'd done up until that moment.
And that's why what happened next may seem out of the blue. I quit. Not because the money had run out, although it had. But because it wasn't my passion. I knew I could've gone on to get my pilot's license, but I also knew that I didn't love it. And I knew doing it simply to make someone else proud of me wasn't reason enough for me to continue. I didn't need to prove anything to anyone else. I needed to give it up to find myself. Because I'm brave.