As I talked about in this post I have been really afraid of flying.
Like, panic attack, sobbing, large amounts of vodka, and annoyed stares of small children and reasonable people traveling with me SCARED.
I recently spent probably two weeks of my life that I can never get back being anxious about a short trip to Utah for work. Knowing I had no choice but to fly, and desperately wanting to be a normal person able to travel, I worked on "fixing" myself.
I listened to podcasts, scoured the internet for helpful articles, and analyzed my brain for the broken parts to try and overcome them.
I decided I needed to go to the doctor to get help, since I was traveling alone and needed to be sober enough to find my connecting flights, plus getting intoxicated right before meeting colleagues is generally a pretty bad idea.
In the doctor's office, I read some "overcoming fear of flying" articles while waiting for my turn. Which led to genuine concern on the nurse's face when she took my blood pressure once I was brought back. They prescribed me a low dose of a helpful medication to ease my anxiety during flight.
I took four separate flights in two days, with one day of meetings in between. I swallowed my tiny pill, made friends with my neighbors on the plane, brought plenty of magazines and audio books, and repeated to myself one of the most helpful statistics I read: there are allegedly 30,000 flights per day. Of all the people on all those planes, every single day, what are the chances MY flight will be noteworthy?
Another thing that really helped was closing my eyes and pretending I was on a bus traveling around Disney World. Busses are bumpy rides! And a plane is pretty much like a bus (just unnaturally high above the Earth of course) and statistically safer!
But those little tactics I used weren't all I needed to get me through. I needed to get outside my selfish mind and see the world around me.
On my first flight of the day, I sat next to another nervous flier who was traveling home from a funeral. On my second flight, I sat next to a man going to the hospital to visit his son, who had just been in a car accident.
I realized that all around me on those planes, and in those airports, were people with much bigger worries than mine. Flying was the least of their concerns. And it really made me stop and appreciate how truly lucky I was to only be traveling for positive career reasons, and not for any devastating personal reasons.
A couple days before I left, I noticed a weird rash on my side. I was so distracted by the upcoming flight I didn't pay much attention. But within a few days of coming home it really was bothering me. A little internet research led to the diagnosis of shingles. Which apparently young people only get from stress.
Not only did I waste ridiculous amounts of time worrying about these flights, I also gave myself a painful rash. All for a pretty insignificant, statistically safe, trip on a plane.
This experience was awesome, because I really feel like it led to me dealing with my fear. I will not allow myself to waste any more of my life on such insignificant worries, and am fully ready to fly again. And am also fully ready to stop having this itchy, burny rash. :)