Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? I’m pretty sure I changed my mind a few times, trying to decide whether I should be a doctor, a teacher, or Donnie and Marie Osmond’s back-up singer (seriously, my parents have pictures of me and my sister using the backyard picnic table as our stage and wooden spoons as our microphones). Sometime in grade school I decided I would be a pilot. The details of that decision are a mix of childhood memories, but I distinctly remember telling my Dad that I was going to go to the Air Force Academy and be an Air Force pilot. I think I was 10. The next many years are a blur of challenges, failures, successes, losses, wins, and ultimately what has been an incredibly rewarding career: All made possible, in part, because I knew why I wanted to be reach that goal. I knew why I had chosen and worked so hard to become and remain an Air Force officer and pilot.
But what happens when we get tired? What happens when we lose or forget our why? During a Wing Commander’s Call last month, our boss was asked this very question. She recommended getting back to the core of why you chose to join the Air Force and sharing your experience with others. I sat there wondering “when did I lose my why and why didn’t I realize it until now?”
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at a “Girls In Aviation Day” hosted by the Women in Aviation International, Central Florida Chapter, in Orlando, Florida. A fellow Air Force aviatrix and I traveled to Orlando for the opportunity to share our stories and our love of military aviation with 40 young girls. Those who know me realize that public speaking is something I need to plan and prepare to do. But this time it wasn’t just nerves that made me have to prepare…it was my lack of belief in what I was saying. I still enjoyed my job, I still loved being in the military, but over the last 2 years, I had begun to lose my “why.”
This event arrived at a perfect time for me. I’m here to tell you, if you have forgotten why you chose the path or career you have chosen or if you are not sure you should continue down this path or keep this career, go share it with a group of kids. Being there, seeing them excited to learn about careers in aviation, watching their hands fly up to ask question after question, and – if you can believe it – watching teenage girls put their cellphones away – that is how you re-find your why. And I did.
I encourage all of you, no matter what it is you have chosen to pursue in this lifetime, if you are beginning to feel worn out, if you have noticed you are just going through the motions of “loving” your job, if you have forgotten or lost your “why”: Go find the nearest school, Boys and Girls Club, any event or organization that is hosting a career day or something like it and share how you chose your path, how you got there, why you love it. As you speak to those kids and answer their questions, you will begin to believe yourself again. And if not, it is time to find your new “why”.
#girlpilot #bethechange #aviation #believe #girl