What We Expect

As I was sitting in the airport yesterday, I started to notice the number of people complaining about various things about air travel, and thinking to myself that yes, there are plenty of things to complain about, but some of what was being said just really wasn’t accurate. It seems to me that there are a large number of people who seem to think that flights arrive late, baggage gets lost, flights get cancelled, etc. “all the time”. As someone who now travels quite a bit (I’ve already spent 75 nights in hotels during 2013, I think that qualifies), I’m always taken aback a bit about these claims, because while they do happen, it really isn’t that frequent. The statistics on airline travel back me up. Based on May, 2013 there’s a 1 in 10,000 chance you’ll be denied boarding, and about a 3 in 1,000 chance that your luggage will get mishandled. Both of those mean there’s less than 1% chance of it happening to you, and while there is a somewhat decent chance (Generally above 20% most months, increasing slightly in months more likely to have sever weather) that you will encounter some delays, it’s still hardly “all of the time”.

Again, as someone who travels quite a lot, I can look at the number of times I’ve been delayed, or had other problems, compared to the number of times I’ve flown without any problem, and put it in perspective. Most people, however, don’t fly that often. A more typical traveler travels maybe twice a year, once for a family vacation in the Summer time, and once for the holidays. Both peak travel times, where there’s little extra space to account for any problems, and both times when you are somewhat more likely to run into severe weather. All it takes is one delay caused by a storm, one person getting bumped from an overfull flight, one mishandled bag, and you come to think that this must happen all the time. After all, if you travel twice a year and it happens to you, it must happen all the time. Even more, when you took the internet and complained about it, your tweet, Facebook post, etc. gets commented on by every other person this has ever happened to, leading to the obvious conclusion, if you fly, the airline will delay your flight, lose your baggage, and there will be some combination of drunk adult or unruly children on your flight. And if you don’t experience those things as part of your flight, you just got lucky. The fact is, if something bad does happen, you just got unlucky.

As a survivor, I’m reminded all the time that just because I spent much of my childhood dealing with bad things, it doesn’t mean that I should expect everything to always go badly. Yes, my experience tells me that everyone is out to hurt me, and I should definitely be careful with who I trust, but there are people in the world who are not trying to abuse me. Also, if I spend my whole adult life looking for bad things, in order to support my cognitive dissonance about what happens in my life, I’ll be very unlikely to notice the good things around me. I won’t allow people to get close to me, I won’t be able to enjoy positive things, and I will spend my adult life simply waiting for something bad to happen. If that’s what my adult life looks like, it’s not healing. Healing is about overcoming what happened in childhood, it’s about having the full range of experiences that life is made up of. Sometimes that does mean some bad things will happen, but it also includes lots of good things too. Don’t miss out on those things. That’s just allowing your childhood abusers to take even more from you.

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