Get Onboard with the Turbulence

by Annabelle Parr

“The captain has turned on the fasten your seatbelt sign. Please return to your seats as we may be approaching some turbulence.”

Life is like a series of flights and journeys to new destinations — new careers, new relationships, new places, new phases of life. Sometimes the ride is smooth while other times it’s full of bumps and white knuckles because life, just like a plane ride, is inevitably turbulent.

Airplanes are built for turbulence

On an airplane, turbulence doesn’t scare me because I know that it’s routine and part of the flight experience. Thanks to an Air and Space class I took in college, I also know that airplanes are built to handle the bumps, and undergo a series of stringent tests before they are allowed to fly. For example, their wings must be able to hold 1.5 times the load they are ever expected to carry in flight, and in testing their wings are bent to almost 90 degree angles to ensure they won’t break in a storm. So I trust that I will emerge safely from in-flight turbulence because I know the plane is built for it and the pilot is trained to handle it.

My mother doesn’t have the same faith in airplanes that I do. For her, in-flight turbulence is a scary experience, and as a result she dreads flying for weeks before actually boarding the plane. While I may not have a fear of airplane turbulence, for a long time I was afraid of life turbulence — of new, challenging, fear-inducing situations and emotions that felt beyond my control. I was afraid of being uncomfortable and wondering if I could navigate the storm and make it safely to land.

But just like my mom doesn’t let her fears stop her from travelling, I don’t let mine stop me from living. I know that turbulence is just part of the deal. If I want to go anywhere new, see things I’ve never seen before and grow in profound ways, I can’t avoid the bumps.

People are built for turbulence too

The reason I’m not scared to fly through turbulence is because I know it’s normal and the plane and pilot are equipped for the ride. It took a long time to develop that same confidence in myself — to accept that turbulence in life is normal and that I am capable of handling it.

I also know that flying, though not always the most pleasant experience, means that I get to land somewhere new. I get to experience the exhilaration of adventure, the growth that comes with encountering unique people and places, and the reward of knowing that although I may have encountered delays or turbulence, I made it to my destination. And in life, after a journey involving turbulence, delays or loss, I emerge on the other side stronger and wiser.

It’s not about the destination

When we travel, the destination is generally the goal. The journey there, while often ridden with mishaps that will eventually become funny stories, is not why we take the trip. But in life, we have to appreciate the journey or we will miss everything. We only get so many big destinations and milestones to work towards. And once we finally get there, a new journey begins soon after. We can’t stay stagnant in a metaphorical Hawaii or Paris forever. If we only focus on the destination, sit through the flights zoning out or dread the journey for fear of a bumpy ride, we will be less than conscious for most of our lives.

So fasten your seatbelt and embrace the turbulence knowing that although it may be scary it’s taking you somewhere important. You will land safely on the other side because turbulence is part of life and you — like an airplane — are more equipped to handle it than you think.

Originally posted on the Bulldog Drummond blog.

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