Mallory Echols
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March 12, 2011, the day before graduating from
7 weeks of flight attendant training inĀ 
Atlanta, Georgia

For just more than 6 years, I was a flight attendant. It wasn’t just my profession, it was who I was, my identity. Even when I was a little girl, my fantasies were in escaping the present surroundings. I’d pack my Barbie suitcase and escape through the neighbor’s pasture that ran along the back of our home. I wrote stories in made up languages, studied Spanish in school, befriended people whose origins were far removed from my own. Becoming a flight attendant was the escape that I’d always sought, and I was proud to be able to fly anywhere at the drop of a hat.

In six years I learned two new languages, Brazilian Portuguese and Italian, in addition to the Spanish I already spoke. I traveled to twenty six (at least that’s as many as I can remember) different countries, and I met and worked with people from all around the world. It was the best job I could have hoped for fresh out of college. Nowhere else would I have learned or grown as much as I did.

On June 12, 2017, I decided to submit my resignation. Though it wasn’t an overnight decision, I certainly hadn’t been contemplating it for too long. A couple of months at most. I had grown accustomed to sleep deprivation, low-quality food, high-stress environments, and enclosed spaces. Before taking a 4-month leave over the winter, I hadn’t realized how accustomed to discomfort and unease I had become. After spending nearly two months in Sicily, working the land, eating good, wholesome food, sleeping during the night, and feeling like a part of the community, returning to flying was simply not what I wanted to do anymore.

It’s scary to quit a job, especially one with benefits like flying around the world for free; it’s even scarier to stay and ponder what life would be like if I hadn’t. Flight Attendant is no longer who or what I am, and I’m okay with that.

One Reply to “Identity”

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