learning & grace
A few months ago, I started flight training with the goal of becoming an airline pilot. It's something that had been in the back of my mind for a few years, but I never thought it was feasible for me. After speaking with quite a few people on the subject, I found out how feasible it truly was. I went on a discovery flight and the rest is history.
I absolutely love flying. I always have. But there's something really special about piloting a plane. There's no feeling like it.
Learning to fly (cue Foo Fighters) is the coolest, scariest, most interesting, frustrating, wonderful, exhilarating thing I've ever learned how to do. I love a good challenge and learning to fly has been that ultimate challenge for me. Here's why:
I'm good at school. I love to learn. I've always been a good student. I don't say this seem prideful or conceited. I just really like school. I enjoy writing research papers, hence part of the reason why I'm in grad school. I'm curious by nature and soak up information like a sponge. In school (grade school up through university), I didn't really have to study that much unless I struggled with a concept. It probably doesn't help that I don't like studying or practicing. I would "study" here and there for exams and get high grades more often than not. I rarely practiced at home when I was in the concert band in high school. Pair all that with insatiable ambition and you get a perfectionist.
I'm a perfectionist in the sense that I expect myself to fully comprehend and perfectly execute new skills upon learning them. This is the way I've always been, not that such an excuse is valid. When I was in school, the perfectionism was reinforced by my lack of need to study and my ability to grasp concepts and skills quickly.
Fast forward to now when I'm learning a new skill, but still beating myself up over not understanding concepts right off the bat. Learning to fly is no walk in the park, especially if you didn't grow up around general aviation. I'm halfway through my private license and sometimes, I feel like I'll never pass my checkride. Cross-country flight planning and aviation math have frustrated me to no end. Recently (and I mean like an hour before writing this), I finally understood how to work my E6B flight calculator to solve time, distance, speed, and fuel consumption problems. Even then, I don't know if I trust the calculations completely. Because I second-guess myself all the time.
It wasn't until discussing all that I'm doing with a friend that I realised how much grace I needed to give myself.
I'm wayyyyyyyyyyy too hard on myself. Any given day, I could do 99 things right and one thing wrong and that one thing will eat at me for a long time. The last time I flew, I kinda messed up because I didn't know what ATC has asked me to do. Instead of asking for clarification, I ignored it and went about my business. Not in an overly-confident-I-know-what-I'm-doing way, but in a I-don't-know-if-I-can-ask-them-what-they-meant way. I've since learned that I should always ask for clarification if ATC tells me do to something that's unfamiliar to me. But I tell you what - that has been replaying in my mind for nearly a month. Slowly chipping away at any confidence that I may have had before then.
I have to learn to give myself grace. I'm not always going to get it right on the first try. Or the second try. Or the tenth try. The point is to acquire the skills. Plain and simple. Who cares how many tries it takes? (Me, but I'm working on not caring). I greased my first solo landing and I will never forget the excitement and sense of accomplishment I felt when I did it. All of my landings since then? Terrible. But I've got to keep going. And I've got to trust that I will get better with practice.
So this is for those of us out there who have crazy ambition, are pursuing many things all at once, and tend to be a little too hard on ourselves. Let's give ourselves a break. Drink a cup of tea. . And remember that we're not perfect, so perfection is an unattainable goal. Remember that there are many who have gone before us and done exactly what we're doing and have the scars to prove it. Remember that there is merit in practice and it will always make you better.
Here's to giving ourselves grace,