Europe, Inspiration

Facing my fear of flying: 9 times Flying, 9 times Crying

I just spent the night crying on my pillow, imagining the million things that could go wrong. I can’t stop shacking and telling me “flying is the safest mean of transportation” is not going to help me. No matter how many flights I take, being inside a giant heavy box, with no way out of it, with about 100 people I never met in my life, and thousands of feet of the ground, will never, ever, ever, feel normal and safe.

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It took me 19 years to get my ass inside a plane, and 9 flights after, flying is still my biggest fear, but one I have to face every time I want to travel, which is the thing I love doing the most! Now this is a huge contradiction that messes with my system every single time and there’s nothing that makes it easier or better.

On my first flight I screamed “too high, too high, that’s enoughhhh!!!!!” and I spent the entire time thinking the man next to me was suspicious and something bad was going to happen. I guess choosing September 11th for the first flying experience was not my brightest idea.

On my second flight the weather was foggy, so when we were landing, I looked outside and thought the plane was on fire! By the fourth time I cried so much for thinking I was going to die that the lady next to me, who I did not know, had to give me her hand during take off and landing.

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When I took a flight to Rome to start my first solo trip, as soon as I said goodbye to my mum I started crying like I would never see her again, or anyone for that matter. When I saw the plane ready for me to enter it, I cried some more because well it looks big as hell and I have no idea how it even gets off the ground and I sure don’t want to be flying high up in the skies in a giant box like that.

People tell me that fear goes away with time and that the more I fly the less I will fear, but seriously, do you think anything you say can make the worst feeling in the world go away?

The last two years have been full of weird situations with flights and it sure hasn’t help me get over fear, it has made me fear it even more. There were flights disappearing, flights getting destroyed by freaking war weapons (or so does the story goes, because nothing was actually proved), by mistake, a crazy pilot who decided to crash the flight because he felt like it, period!

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I was in Czech Republic when the last one happened and I have a perfect memory carved in my mind of that day. I cried just by reading the news and a giant fear grew inside me because the worst part was that nobody knew what was going on. I called my mother crying and saying that I was not going to get a flight back home. I told her no matter how many buses and trains I would have to catch, how long it took me, I was going to get back home by land and I would not get my ass on a plane anytime soon. There was only one problem with this great plan of mine, that was the fact I didn’t have enough money to travel by land, as a flight from Germany back to Portugal would cost me 60€ and reaching it by land would cost me hundreds. So you can now imagine my despair when I was forced to enter a plane.

I think it is safe to say that it was my worst flying day! The night before I cried and kept saying over and over again that I didn’t want to do it. I was sure I was going to die! Call me drama queen if you want, but being terrified of flying and having to get on a flight a few days after a horrible plane accident, and flying from Germany where that flight was suppose to land, feels like an emotional roller coaster that is impossible to control. I stood by the gate seeing the plane I was about to board and all I could do was cry. I was on the phone with a friend over one hour, simply crying as he tried to tell me everything was going to be ok. A little girl was standing next to me like she was about to hop on a bus to school and I was there feeling like I was about to enter a rocket ship into space. We were on the phone until I entered the plane with my right foot, right after kissing my hand and touching the plane’s door for luck, something I do on every single flight.

“Call me when you land” – he said

“If I land, I will” – I replied with tears in my eyes

“All planes land!”

“Not all of them…”

He yelled at me that I was going to land and I was going to call him once that happened. I wanted to agree with him but I was too unsure due to past events. The fact the flight happened during night was a good thing because for some reason it makes me feel calmer. When I landed back in Portugal I clapped my hands with all the other passengers because I couldn’t believe I was back home, alive, and I could tell the story about another horrible day getting on a flight.

On October 6 I will be catching not one but two flights because I’m that much of a masochist I am. I found these two flights that were so cheap I couldn’t help to buy them. I am flying from Lisbon to Paris for 20€ and from Paris to Pisa for 10€, instead of paying more than double for flying directly to Pisa, which is one hell of a deal, right? If I wasn’t so afraid to fly, I would agree, and at the time I went crazy over this, but three days from getting on two flights, I feel like my heart is about to jump out of my chest. Why is this so bad? Because usually once I land I have this amazing feeling of relief and I believe everything will be ok, but this time, once I land, I will still have to go through all of it for the second time and the idea of two flights is freaking me out. Why do I need to be so afraid of flying? I wish I wasn’t, I really, really wish, and I’ve tried everything, but the feeling only seems to get worse with time. I’m wishing that since my flight is at 6am I will be so tired I will sleep the entire flight and wake up after we land. That would be the best possible scenario here.

I will keep on catching flights in order to keep travelling the world, I will keep facing my fear right in the face and take deep breaths as I cry during take-off, turbulence and landing. Still, if I can help getting on a flight I will. If there are any other means of transportation that I can afford to reach my destination, I will always choose that over flying, because I like to enjoy the ride too, and unfortunately, flying does not let me relax a single second. If you don’t believe me, read my post on how it took me 17h from Lisbon to Toledo because I chose to catch an 11h night train instead of a 1 hour flight.

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