Being on a plane every week makes it very easy to spot the nervous flyers. Honestly, I enjoy watching them. My personal favorites are the people that grab the armrest (and/or your actual arm) with the slightest hint of turbulence, and those that mutter a quick prayer under their breath with every noticeable change in altitude as we takeoff and land.
It’s nothing to be embarrassed of, I totally get it. We’ve all seen Flight. You’re putting your life in someone else’s hands, and if things go bad there’s no guarantee the pilot will have Denzel’s plane landing ability. However, what makes me smile through my encounters with these passengers isn’t their obvious discomfort (I’m not that mean). It’s the thought that despite their uneasiness, they got on a plane anyways.
Observing people face their fears pretty publicly makes me reflect on where I could be now if I chose to do the same earlier in life. There were many times when I failed to take on a challenge, or took a more “comfortable” route, because of my own anxieties. Looking back now, I truthfully don’t know how those situations could have gone, but at the time I let the risk, uncomfortableness, and uncertainty outweigh the potential reward.
There’s a saying that “a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” It’s true, I’ve lived it. That will never be the case again. I’ve made the decision that the temporary sting of rejection and failure is not nearly as bad as the feeling you carry in the pit of your stomach while living with regret.
We all have goals in life – in the case of the nervous guy next to me, a destination – and we all have something pushing us towards inaction. Your life can move down a completely different path in the slightest, but (often deceptively) crucial, moment. Once it’s gone there’s no guarantee of another… So what will do you do in this moment? Take the flight or watch the other planes from the safety of the ground?