Vulnerability and the lived experience
I focus on the lived experience because I don’t think people, things, and places become relatable until you genuinely experience them in real-time. We currently live in a very picturesque world, and I see so many people trying to get the perfect picture to prove to the world that they have experienced something. However, nothing trumps the experience, and it often cannot be relayed in the ideal image. In the lived experience, you must be vulnerable, and a perfect picture does not show that experience.
Being a flight attendant exposed me to so many different people and experiences. I remember people questioning my choice to be a flight attendant. How could I spend four years in college to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a “waitress in the sky?” The 23 years I spent traveling the world gave me more experiences than college ever could in hindsight.
I grew up in an immigrant family, and many of my early experiences came from being an immigrant. As a child immigrant to the US, I remember not wanting to be different and accepting the vulnerability of being different. As a young adult, I knew that my experiences were viewed differently and were unlike those of my peers, and it took me several years to learn to lean into my uniqueness.
When I first became a flight attendant, it was a time of genuine customer service and being “something special in the air.” Flight service included champagne and caviar service, and it would take almost two hours to complete a dinner service with cooked-toorder onboard chateaubriand.
Vulnerability is admitting that the first time I had chateaubriand was on an airplane. It was also the first time I had caviar, and I had been serving caviar for almost two years before I had the nerve to try it myself. My regret is not having tried it on day one! However, I did not want to be vulnerable and try it in front of my coworkers.
But that was my vulnerability, and I learned through my lived experience that holding on to the vulnerability of not admitting my naivety was only to my detriment. As airline services reduced year by year, I longed for the days of caviar and champagne service. It’s an experience few will ever get to experience, and I had the opportunity to experience it daily and didn’t for many years.
What are you giving up by holding on to your vulnerability? I promise you that the lived experience is much better than the picture opportunity. Live and be proud of your firsts, because they will not be your lasts. Have you been in vulnerable situations and learned from them? I’d like to know.