You'd think someone who spends ample time around pilots wouldn't be adverse to flying. But logic doesn't win every argument.
My grandpa was a pilot as was my uncle. My brother got his private pilot's license as did my husband. And those are only the people that come to mind immediately. Suffice to say, I understand quite a bit about airplanes and how they work. I was once told airplanes are merely sky boats and turbulence is like a choppy sea. But no matter what logical explanation I try to feed my brain before I step foot on a plane...my stomach clenches and rolls as a fine sweat breaks out on my palms and forehead. As I settle into my seat, my brain is screaming to GET. OFF. THE. PLANE! I've tried every trick in the book at takeoff and in turbulence to distract myself. Writing my name backwards, listening to music, screaming internally as I clutch the armrests with reckless abandon.
And every time the plane lands, safe and sound, I want to burst out into applause. Holy crap, we made it. Like the odds aren't totally in my favor. Like it's a big damn surprise that we made it to our destination.
Yet...I continue to fly.
Because I have wanderlust...and flying is the easiest way to accommodate my longing to find new places. I've looked into driving many times. Trains. Even sea voyages. But I always come back to flying.
I ignore my fear. I get onto a plane. And I go.
Now here's the thing: I know that my fear of flying is totally irrational. But as someone who has always, ALWAYS relied heavily on her gut I was under the impression—for a time—that it was my gut telling me to not get on the plane. But it turns out there's this mental state called anxiety? I have that. But I didn't know I had it. Until I Googled (yes, I really did Google this) "What is the difference between your gut and anxiety?"
The answer has really helped me through a lot of life situations over the last year since I stumbled across the explanation. So I wanted to share it here in case it helps someone else.
Your gut gives you a command and when you act on the command, that's the end of it. On the other hand if it's anxiety giving you the command, you fret over it. You keep coming back to it. You question it over and over and over again. Once you act on it, you wonder if you've done the right thing. Maybe you shouldn't have reacted that way. Should you try another way? These questions keep you awake at night. And on and on until you drive yourself crazy.
See the difference? I don't know if this is the case for everyone but in being so in tune with my gut, I've found this to be incredibly true for me. I'm now able to easily determine whether it's my anxiety speaking—or my gut. And I tend to adjust my behavior accordingly.
Granted, there are times I follow the anxiety. As an introvert I hate crowds. If I walk into Target and the lines are 3 deep, I'm gone. When I go out with friends and the bar or restaurant begins to crowd, I say my goodbyes. I see nothing wrong with taking care of myself. And my anxiety in those types of situations would never allow me to simply relax and have a good time—so I've learned to not push myself.
But when my anxiety strikes in other situations...for instance, when I fly, I find it's better if I let anxiety take a back seat.