Your heart is pounding, your palms are sweating, and you're taking deep breaths to make it through these next few minutes. Finally you hear "next" and slowly make your way to the counter. You hand over your I.D. and boarding passes knowing the moment you have been dreading has finally arrived...you have to weigh your luggage to make sure it's not overweight. Anxiety can make any situation seem incredibly difficult, including flying on an airplane. Here are some irrational thoughts anxiety may be whispering in your ear as you take on traveling by air.
1. I’m not going to make it
You haven’t even left the house yet and your anxiety is worried you’ll be late and miss your flight.
2. Please don’t let me luggage be overweight
It happens, people roll in with their luggage being over the weight limit. You may have to pay extra or buy another bag, which in the grand scheme of things is no big deal. For someone with anxiety, this moment of uncertainty feels like all eyes are on them and judgment is going to ensue if your bag is over 40 lbs.
3. I can’t find my gate
News flash, nobody knows where their gate is! Everyone’s just walking along hoping that all the signs they’re following aren’t leading them astray. What may be a casual stroll for some, feels a little different when you have anxiety. For example, overwhelming thoughts of you don’t want to be late, you don’t want to bring any attention to yourself, you’re making yourself stress sweat and now you feel like you can’t breathe.
4. Wait, what’s my gate again?
You’ve checked. You’ve double checked. Don’t lie you know you’ve at least triple checked that ticket, but you will still find yourself repeatedly pulling out that small slip of paper to make sure you’re going to the right gate.
5. Everyone can just go ahead of me
Most planes board by groups unless you’re a part of the “anxiety group.” People file towards the gate when their group is called, but you? You’re slowly inching your way there until there is someone from the corner of your eye making their way toward the same gate to which you probably offer up for them with a smile to “go ahead”
6. What if I just said my last goodbyes?
As you make your way to the gate to get your ticket scanned, a lot of times you are sending off one last text or ending a phone conversation. You politely tell that person you’ll “talk to them when you land.” But as you make your way down that small tunnel towards the plane? Your brain is going into an instant panic mode. “What if I die?” “What if that was my last goodbye?” “What if that’s the last thing I’ll ever say to that person ever again?”
7. I’m taking way too long
The moment from finding your seat and getting seated can be some of the most terrifying 15 seconds of your life as you put your carry on into the overhead luggage. Even though trying to accomplish this quicker actually makes you fumble around even longer.
8. I hope nobody sits next to me
If you’re telling me you’ve been on a plane and haven't hoped nobody sat next to you, then you’re a dirty liar. Everyone loves that extra legroom, especially if you’re feeling on edge. Just knowing you can have your own little safety bubble on the plane where you don’t have to slide yourself the other way giving the person next to you as much room as possible, is worth a sigh of relief.
9. Yay, nobody’s sitting by me!
You’ve made your way into the plane and you sit next to some empty seats. *does a happy dance inside* Then you sit in agony wondering if every person filing through the aisle is about to intrude on that bubble you love so well.
10. Is it weird if I make eye contact?
Even some of the newest fliers often ignore the flight attendants as they present their safety spiel. You, being the good passenger that you are, want them to know someone is listening to them. But does making eye contact make it “weird?” “Am I making the uncomfortable for everyone now?”
11. I should be writing this down
People all around you are just going about their conversations, have already checked out with their novel, or are jamming to some tunes on their headphones. You? You’re listening intently to the safety briefing “just in case.”
12. Oh god, we’re going down
13. Why didn’t I order anything?
That drink and snack cart has inched its way towards your row. Your friendly flight attendant asks if you want anything. “Oh no, I’m ok!” comes out of your mouth and your stomach grumbles. This is a friendly reminder that ordering something and having them hand it to you is not a burden, it’s literally part of their job.
14. How did it get so hot in here?
It seems to take no time at all for a plane to fill with warm air as more and more people hop aboard. Great, turn the air on right? Wrong! You don’t want to disturb the stranger next to you.
15. No seriously, this plane is going to freaking crash
I make sure my seatbelt is tightly fastened and keep my eyes peeled for my exit options. Flying has never been the same since that one episode on "Grey's Anatomy."
16. Am I going deaf?
Varying air pressure = pressure in your ears. There are the tried and true methods of yawning or chewing gum to get your ears to “pop.” But What if they don’t “pop” all the way? Will I ever get my hearing back? What if the last thing I ever heard was the flight attendant safety speech?!
17. It made it!
There is a great sense of relief as you see your luggage make its way on the revolving carousel in front of you. But now you’re thinking, how can I grab it off of there without being awkward or getting in anyone’s way?