Once upon a time, a self-proclaimed Archaeology-Lifer got a job as a flight attendant. No one knows quite how it happened. Here's what happened next...

Monday, June 14, 2010

An Unexpected Change of Heart

I’ve always been interested in history.

I could say I have always wanted to be an archaeologist, but that isn’t necessarily true. I think I wanted to be an archaeologist after I discovered I could actually study it and make it a valid(ish) career choice, which was in grade 11. Back then I knew I was going to be an Egyptologist, and was determined to do it. I found the best program in the province, if not the country, that would allow me to study the archaeology of the Ancient Near East.

About two years into that program, I figured out that Egypt, while still a fascinating place with an amazing history that I love, was not going to be the right path for me. I shifted my interests to the Middle Ages, and eventually determined that I wanted to be a field archaeologist and specialize in Medieval defensive architecture.

My point is, people change their minds. I have done it before. If you had asked me five years ago, I would have said that my future would be spent with a trowel somewhere in Egypt looking for Queen Nefertiti. If you had asked me about that same dream three years ago, I would have laughed at how deluded I was, and swoon over a really nicely constructed spiral staircase or a damn fine curtain wall ( I still might, too. Defensive architecture is seriously cool.)

If you asked me today what I see myself doing in my future?
Chances are I am going to say that I see myself flying for a commercial airline.

I feel as though I am standing on a precipice, and am about to take the plunge into a new, exciting, terrifying world. I am at the point where I am very likely to say that I will not be a professional archaeologist.

‘Grad school isn’t for everyone, dear’ my favourite professor once told me. I think she was trying to comfort me. I was having a meltdown in the archaeological lab, mostly roommate based, partially academic. It wasn’t exactly a pep talk though. At the time I was furious and hurt, and avoided her for weeks. Grad school was everything. I was going to have a PhD and dig stuff up! It was important. Eventually I got over it. I figured she just didn’t think I was grad school material because I didn’t excel in her particular area of expertise.

But Grad school isn’t for everyone. Now I think about it, can I really say I can imagine myself working independently on a research paper of epic proportions? Sure, if it was something I was really interested in, but I would still struggle. Realistically speaking, I am the girl who, when faced with a 25 page research paper, would procrastinate mainly out of fear, and pull something together in the end, but never really the best I could have done had I not been crippled by fear for the majority of the semester. Research papers are not my thing. Can’t do much about that.

Can I see myself excavating? Sure! I love being in the field. But can I see myself doing all the research and writing it all up and teaching and everything else that goes along with it? Not so much.

Well… here’s an option. I could be a pilot. I could work in a job I might actually love, make a good wage, and then take some time every year, maybe every few years, and volunteer just to dig on archaeological excavations. The digging was the good part anyway, the part that got me hooked. Watching something unfold in front of you, like a backwards jigsaw puzzle. God help me, I even liked the paper work that came with it. But if I’m being honest with myself, I could leave the rest. The bookish side. Not really for me.

But the aviation industry.
Well there’s something special.


  1. Wow, what an amazing story! I will return to this blog every day until I have read it all!
    (note to the beautiful spirit who introduced me to this site... THANK YOU!)
    The winds have welcomed you with softness, the sun has blessed you with warm hands,
    you have flown so high and well that God has joined you in laughter and set you gently
    back into the loving arms of mother earth so that you may fly again another day.

  2. Hi Flygirl!
    I was on the Ottawa Flying Club facebook wall and I saw a post for your blog. I'm so inspired! I've wanted to be a pilot since I could talk and still do...it was just so discouraging not seeing any girls in any pictures related to flight school or aviation. And then I saw your blog and it gave me hope! I was wondering if you could give me any basic information on enrollment and share some tips with me? ie. the medical exam, what did it consist of, and what is the labout market like as well as the competition for entry into the program?