Monday, May 01, 2006

Freaking Out

So today I kind of lost it...

We're doing "emergency drills". Planned and unplanned land and water evacuations. Not really uplifting material to start with, but I can deal with that.

What I can't deal with are the actual drills. (Drill = Us doing what we would actually be doing if we were evacuating an aircraft. We have a set "script" of what we say scream to get people out asap).

We watch videos of people doing drills, and all the while my eyes are welling up with tears, and I'm pretty much loosing it. Then when people in our class did live drills tears were streaming down my face. I'm seriously freaking out.

I'm scared that I won't be able to do it.

What scares me more is that I'm a super outgoing person who is never scared to take control of a situation. So why am I petrified that I will not be able to do this? I am absolutely terrified that I will cry or panic or freeze and be responsible for these people with mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and children not getting out of the aircraft alive.

After class I talked to my instructor and in about four seconds I was sobbing. She said that she was surprised that I made it to day 6, because for her she lost it on day four, when we watched the video with interviews with survivors of aircraft fires where almost everyone died. She said she cried and cried in front of the whole class, and almost quit. I was honestly feeling like that today, because if I can't do these drills effectively, I can't be a flight attendant. And I really don't know if I can do them.

I felt reassured by what she told me, and how she told me I should ask those around me to remind me of situations where I HAVE taken control and gotten out of sticky situations. She said that I shouldn't hide my feelings from anyone, especially myself... And that it's commendable that I'm seeing it and coming to her for help. She also told me that she had no doubt in her mind that I would be able to get through it, and that I'd be ok. She said that if I cry the whole way through my first drill, it's okay, and I just need to try again. She also said it shows that I'm a good person, and that I'm concerned for these people, and not looking at it like a drill. What I don't get is when I'm watching a video on a fake plane with no actual passengers on it I'm freaking out about me not doing it. It's all hypothetical. So why am I freaking out??????

If I somehow make it through the "unplanned" landings, which means we have no warning of the emergency landing until it happens, so we really don't ever have to see any of the passengers until we're telling them to cross their arms and jump and slide, my next hurdle is the "planned" landings, where we have about 30 minutes warning, so we stand in the cabins and stare at the passengers while the captain announces that we're having an emergency landing, and I'm the one who is supposed to guide them through and reassure them we'll all be okay. I'm the one who assigns duties, and talks to the people sitting next to people who need more help, like mothers with infants and unaccompanied minors. How can I stand there and keep it together? What can I do to dissociate myself? I really don't know.

I'm scared. I'm overwhelmed. And I cry anytime anyone shouts. And I have to shout. A lot.


Dr. Papa said...

You are an emtional person. If I remember rightly, an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory. You process information through your feelings. You gather information from your intuition. You externalize your processing (hence the crying).

Remember when you figured out what had to happen with the Dog as she became chronically ill and was suffering? Did you freak out and let her suffer until we came home? No, you didn't.

Have you ever left someone who is in real need down?

Can you remember a time you freaked out and someone was hurt by your freakng out?

When the real situation arrives, you will llok at what needs doing and you will do it.

I figured I would never be able to remain calm if I came upon a ski accident that was obviously lethal. I wasn't even patrolling but remembered all the things I was to do andhad the perseverence to continue to take the lead when the parametics came.

You are a natural for this. I am surprised you haven't cried before now.

You are going to be an excellent FA!

Evey said...

I would be the worst person to give you advice on this for the very fact that I am terrified of flying in every way imaginable.

I admire you for wanting to be a FA and you will be fantastic.

fuzzy wuzzy said...

I cry at anything new and scary, but it's my way of coping. Maybe yours too. I love the way your Dad worded it and I know you would never freak out so much that you would let anyone down, or get hurt in the process. You don't think the other FA's aren't freaking out? They just aren't saying so. I would rather have someone cry with me instead of being cold and uncaring. You'll be great, and when the time comes, you may cry on the outside or you may cry on the inside, but you'll be compassionate and get the job done.

Dee said...

I will be praying every time I know you are on a plane that a situation never arises when you will have to use the skills that they are teaching you this week. but I know that I would feel comforted getting onto a plane knowing someone who cares as much as you is in charge.

I don't doubt for a second your ability to think and react if the presure ever hits. You might cry. I probably would. But your
passion for life and the desire to protect anyone and everyone you can from harm will take over and you will do what it takes.

We have faith in you! And hopefully you will never have to prove to yourself how brave you can really be!

Anonymous said...

Oh Heather!
I always cry during scary things too! Somebody told me once that during emergency situations like that, you don't think about what you have to do, you go on automatic pilot and the job gets done. I'm also an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs test too! When I was told that I was responsible for the 2000 people during an evacuation at the Museum, I freaked and considered quitting that job too... oh and I also cried. But somehow, I made it through 3 of them! Just remember that you're not the ONLY person taking care of all the passengers. I think you'll make a brilliant flight attendant because you care so much about other people. Good luck cherie!
Love, Katie

Lulu said...

Ah Heather - don't fret - you will be just fine!
I mean these things don't happen on a regular basis, and if - god forbid - it does you will have a team of people working with you to get through it. You have wicked leadership skills and I am so confident that you will step up if you must and get it done - like your dad says, you don't let people down, you are very dependable and level headed - take heart!
Luv ya!