Be afraid and do it anyway

Be afraid and do it anyway

Be afraid and do it anyway 2560 1805 Paulina Ryters

I always loved to travel. My parents studied sport and tourism. They (and also my grandmother) were leading trips in the 80’s so I’ve been to Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and half of the former Yugoslavia by the time I was 3. Of course I cannot remember anything, but I believe these adventures shaped my DNA quite a lot. I was lucky enough to be able to travel my whole life and everything went well until I experienced a series of unpleasant flights:

  • Dublin – Hamburg: It must have been 2005 or 2006. The first plane was broken, so we had to wait for over 5 hours at the airport for another one. This one turned out to be broken as well, which we’ve found out already in the sky. After going in circles for what felt like forever, we’ve finally landed back. The 3rd machine was fine.
  • Dublin – Poznan: We didn’t know that during the trip, but something must have been really bad. We’ve landed late at the evening, the airport was completely cleaned of everything and there were at least 10 fire trucks and ambulances waiting for us on the ground. The stewardess told me that it was actually an emergency landing and there was something wrong with the engine. 
  • Warsaw – Zurich: Bad weather, crazy winds. We were circling through the clouds for 45 minutes which was of course very turbulent and the engines were making wild noises. Even my then-boyfriend told me that he was afraid, even though one of his biggest dreams was to become a pilot.
  • London – Gdansk: To be honest, I was wondering why are we even allowed to land in this kind of weather conditions. Still wondering. 

Actually my fear of flying was growing very slowly at first, but at some point I realized that I wasn’t able to talk with people during the take off and landing and was close to uncontrolled panic attacks. That was the point when I decided to do something about it.

And maaan I tried everything. I basically studied aviation! I read books, forums and scientific research. I talked to a friend of mine who was a steward on a regular basis. I tried to understand every bit of the process, because I believed that this knowledge will help me rationalize my fear. I have to admit that for w while it made it even worse. Indeed, I knew that my fears were irrational, but at the same time I also knew what could really go wrong… I tried to fly a lot to get used to it. I tried relaxing techniques, meditation and psychological support. I tried music, being busy on the plane and of course alcohol, which turned out to be helpful, but let’s put it this way: drinking at 6 o’clock in the morning is not a sustainable solution.

In 2019 I posted this instastory from the airport. 

A few minutes later I received a message from Matthias Henze (my former boss and CEO of Jimdo) that I could join him one day and fly a glider. I thought it was absolutely insane, but I said yes.

We’ve met on July 20th, two days after my birthday.  As I arrived my thoughts were a combination of „run!“, “what the fuck am doing here?” and “I will NEVER EVER get inside this tiny plane EVER!”. I also remember thinking that if I will die here, my children will be traumatized forever, because they were also there. And something about being a bad mother.

There was not much time so after a short while I was sitting in the plane and we went up. Rollercoaster style. There was a metal bar inside this tiny plane and I was holding to it very very firmly. As if it would help in case of emergency… We were circling up and up and up. The weather was great and the air was playing into our cards. I think we went up to over 1000m. It was so peaceful, so relaxing… My heart slowed down, my thoughts were calm. I was really enjoying the ride, gliding through the sky fascinated by the basic laws of physics. I was even allowed to steer the beast by myself and according to Matze I did really well. 

From that day on everything changed. Of course I felt some anxiety during the next commercial flights, but today I’m sitting on quite a turbulent flight from Dublin to Hamburg , collecting my thoughts for you and not feeling anxiety AT ALL! Not even a tiny bit. And I know I’ve said it many times already, but I will say it again and again and again: thank you Matze for reacting to my post, for taking me with you, for explaining how everything works and sharing your story. 

Well, this post turned out a bit longer than I planned, so here’s the thing: Face your fears! Don’t let them rob you of wonderful moments, memories and adventures. 

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