A few of you may have noticed comments I’ve made on other people’s posts, saying that I’m going to be learning to fly. Well, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about it and see if it tempts you.
I’ve been lucky enough to get a scholarship with a charity called Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (fsfdp.org.uk - they obviously take the Ronseal approach to naming things). I remember someone posting something about the charity on this forum ages ago. Now, I’ve never been afraid of flying. I actually quite enjoy it. But my first thought was that it sounded terrifying - I’m perfectly happy to be a passenger, but sitting in the pilot’s seat was far too much responsibility, and too big a risk. So I did nothing about it.
But a few things happened last year which really exposed a lot of the fears, insecurities & self identity issues I have in life. I never really thought I was any good at anything, or could be capable of achieving anything, and I have a massive fear of failure. So I’ve always kept myself in the comfort zone where it’s safe, and my inabilities wouldn’t be exposed. It’s like I’ve sat in the passenger seat of life, always relying on others to be in the driver’s seat. I’ve become over reliant on having others around who can take responsibility, and take care of me somehow, step in and rescue me if things go wrong. And this only increased more since getting MS & needing a wheelchair.
But I began to realise how rubbish this made me feel about myself, and I wanted to start changing this. That’s when I remembered about the charity, and I thought maybe it would be a really good thing to try & do. Inevitably I still put off applying for it for a while, but eventually I got my application in just before the deadline. I got shortlisted, and went for an assessment for it with a couple interviews (which are definitely NOT about trying to impress them with all your achievements like you’re on The Apprentice - they just want to get to know you. If anything, listing a load of amazing things you’ve done will probably make you less likely to get a place, as the scholarships are about empowering you. Randomly, one of the interviews had Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden fame in it, as he’s a patron of the charity). A few days later I found out I was one of the lucky few (there’s 11 of us doing it this year, with a whole range of different disabilities - like people with spinal cord injuries & a whole bunch of illnesses I’d never heard of.
Now here I am, coming towards the end of my scholarship. And I’m so, so glad I decided to go for it! I was really worried about how tiring it would be. Like many of us, I can get fatigued easily. I nearly turned down the scholarship as I was scared that I would overdo it and end up paying the price. But, while it is tiring (especially at first), I’ve adapted much better than I was expecting. I’ve been able to get into the flow and routine of it, and there’s plenty of time to rest anyway. And my instructors are really great too. They’re very understanding & supportive, and very happy to work round my energy levels. There’s been a couple days where I finished early as I was feeling knackered, and that’s not been a problem at all.
It was probably more tiring at first as well, because it was more emotionally challenging - there were lots of times when I was rubbish at something and couldn’t get the knack of it, so I wanted to avoid having to do it. I thought I’d never really be able to fly, and was terrified at the idea of ever going solo, even if my instructors thought me capable.
But I reminded myself of why I applied in the first place. And after we had a 9 day break, I came back wanting to practice & get better, instead of dreading having to do things. Then on Sunday, we landed after a short flight, my instructor got out of the plane, and said he was sending me up solo. I’m glad he sprung it on me as it meant I didn’t have time to start getting afraid! So I taxied to the end of the runway, took off and, happily, landed again. And I felt amazing! I couldn’t believe how far I’d come, in what was just 22 short flights, given how panicked I felt at first.
My confidence & self-belief now is so much higher. It’s like I don’t need to be afraid of things any more. (I’ve always said I believed in a God who’s meant to believe in me &tells us not to fear, but I knew I never really believed it deep down, so it’s nice to really believe it for once!)
So if you think you want a dose of empowering, I highly recommend applying for it. Or if you have any questions about it, let me know.