anxiety, memory, opinion, travel

I’m a nervous flyer. There, I’ve said it.

I have grown to hate flying. Not a great trait for somebody who needs to travel for a living and live out of a suitcase…
I don’t know where it has come from. Maybe it is the news outlets, articles, my anxiety disorder… something inside me tells me that it isn’t right anymore.

I have taken my fair share of flights in my day, the longest being 17 hours (Toronto to Tokyo) and the shortest being 35 minutes (Glasgow to Belfast) and with each one passing, I get more nervous.

I somehow got it in my head that with the more flights I get on, the more likely I am to crash and die in a fiery ball of horrible.

Now, after a quick Google, I found that the odds of crashing are about 1 in 5 million… and that is on the high end of probability from reading ranging up to 20 million. This seems an impossible figure given the media coverage on downed aircrafts, seemingly happening often these days. Though we forget that there are over 100,000 flights a day around the world… only after a couple of months (not even) do we cross into the threshold of the probability range.

I know this isn’t sounding good yet. “So, Jen, what you’re telling me is that every couple of months a plane will go down? No wonder you are a nervous wreck.”
No, I’m not telling you this.

The probability of a coin being flipped and landing on heads is ½ of the time. But we all know that you can flip a coin 20 times and have it land on tails, Every. Single. Time.

The “odds” that my flight will crash the more planes I go on does not go up the more flights I go on. Am I more likely to crash than someone who does not fly? Yes. Obviously. They are not on the range as they are not on a plane ever. However, someone who flies for the first time could crash on their one flight and I could land on my 5 millionth flight. Numbers and statistics are easily played with and do not accurately draw conclusions in these hypothetical circumstances.

As I write this, it makes logical sense. But that doesn’t help my “I can be the one.” Thought process.

“Jen, why get on a plane then?”

Because of what is on the other side.

On the other side is a world I haven’t seen. People I haven’t met.
Or, alternatively, a world I want to be in again. People I love.

My parents and I recently have taken our first international trip together. They came over to the UK for a couple of weeks and experienced a little of my second home.

While over, we went to Northern Ireland for a few days and Dad and I conquered the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It was a bit of a miserable day but, because of that, Dad and I had the bridge (and the island across) all to ourselves to explore.
It was rainy, windy, and the rope bridge was a little whirly in the weather. The waves beneath and around in the vistas crashed hard against the sharp cliff edges. Was I nervous? Yes. But I did it.

I crossed the bridge and walked up the other side, guarded by hills and grasses, to the tallest point allowed in such weather. We rose above the hills and I turned around and looked at the Emerald Isle. The sky was bleak and grey, a harsh mist attempting to make ground through a cruel wind that was bone-chilling cold. I stood there, exposed to the elements and forced a breath.

It was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life.

The sea birds testing their wings against the terrain and seeking shelter in the jagged cliff edges, allowing themselves to hide in the moss above. The long, wild grass covering untouched fields blew like seaweed changing the hues of green. The aqua-blue water churned and made perfect crescents out deep in the water and collided with the land in an explosive, white crash of what looked like snow. The paths, walked on by many, filled with puddles that reflected the grey skies above and the strong ropes that dictated those paths swaying gently in cruel winds. The sound of crashing waves, a roaring current, a sundry of calling seabirds… The wind carried fresh, crisp air as I took it all in.

I turned to my Dad and said “I wonder how many people allow the fear of that bridge to take this away from them.” As I gestured generally to the obvious beauty that surrounded us.

If I had let my nervousness take over, I would not have experienced the other side of that bridge.
If I don’t fly or do things that scare me, I wouldn’t have the gumption to do what I love, to meet new people, to live my life to the fullest.

It is all about taking calculated risks. Some people are okay with never seeing the other side of that bridge, that is okay too! The fear is not worth what may be on the other side of it.

1 in 5 million is not going to stop me from doing what I do, being in a long-distance relationship, travelling, etc. Will I be nervous? Probably.
To me, is it worth it for the other side? Absolutely.

“May you always have the courage to take a chance”- Irish Proverb

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