Writer’s note (31 March 2019): This piece was written when I was targeting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) women who were having dating troubles. Now I help all women who feel anxious and insecure in their relationships find peace. Learn more.
My 30th birthday was on 18 November, and I decided to treat myself to something unusual: a helicopter flying lesson. It was exhilarating, of course, and I was able to take dating lessons from the experience to share with you, just like a cool teacher who can relate just about any experience to the subject (s)he teaches and preaches.
Just like an amazing date, this experience “flew” by in the blink of an eye. It gave more fodder for the expression “Time flies when you’re having fun.” (#SorryNotSorry for the horrible “fly” jokes ;-).)
First, my instructor, a 21-year-old man who’s been flying since he was 14, gave me a 20-minute crash course on some theory behind flying a helicopter.
After getting what was essentially a Physics 101 lecture, he told me, “Just remember to fly high and fast, not low and slow. And no jerky movements on the control.”
Everyone and their mother and dog warned me about the “jerky movements.” Some told me that flying a helicopter would be impossibly challenging, which is why they didn’t pursue it (or didn’t pursue it further).
One person sent me a Los Angeles Times article about a helicopter crash and asked, “Is this the helicopter you’re going to fly?” And some were thrilled, even surprised, that I was going to do this in the first place.
Many of them had their preconceived notions about flying this type of machine, whether based on the media or their experience, but I wasn’t afraid. I was ready for something new.
I mean, if a fucking 21-year-old could fly one, I could fly one, too.
Flying a Helicopter
We rode a golf cart to the helicopter I would learn to fly, and it was surprisingly tiny.
So, this is why they asked for my height and weight. Duh.
When we hopped into the ‘copter, we put on our earphones and listened to air traffic control deliver their jibber jabber. The next thing I knew, my instructor was running the engine and lifting us toward the sky.
“Here’s the Hollywood sign,” he pointed to our left. Wicked. That was the closest I’d ever been to the Hollywood sign, even though I’ve lived in southern California my whole life.
Then he said, “There’s Universal Studios below.” Sick.
Soon enough, it was time for me to take control.
We started performing the ritual he taught me for taking the “stick” or “cyclic” (the control).
“You’re in control?” he started.
I put my hand on the stick: “I’m in control.”
“You’re in control,” he let go.
That was it! I was in control!
He directed me toward Downtown Los Angeles: “Go right a little so we can fly over Downtown LA. Make sure the compass stays level with the horizon, check the speedometer, and just feel it as you go and give the helicopter time to react.”
“Be one with the helicopter?” I asked.
He laughed. “Yes, be one with the machine,” he replied.
I spent a good amount of time learning how to go right, left, forward, and backward. Those maneuvers were pretty sensitive, but not impossible, and I really just had to be gentle. I could see the beauty of taking your time instead of forcing an instantaneous reaction, almost like doing tai chi.
Then I was even more curious: “Do I do anything with this?”
I pointed to a lever between us, just below hip level.
“Yes, that helps us ascend and descend. Give it a try,” he said.
He told me to slowly, gently, pull it down, then back up. We watched various numbers on the dashboard change.
In my view, it really wasn’t rocket science. You try a maneuver and see what happens. More often than not, you survive.
When my lesson was over, my instructor took the controls and landed us safely back in Burbank. I got my “demo” certificate to let future instructors know that I completed this training in case I want to continue my helicopter adventures. I was a “fly girl” ;-).
It might seem silly taking an experience such as a helicopter flying lesson and saying, “Now, take these principles and go meet people.”
Seriously, though: Trying something new or persisting on a seemingly unrewarding track can have its emotional ramifications, like walking in circles for months, even years, without relief.
You’ve tried online dating to no avail. You’ve tried making a dead-end relationship work to no avail.
At this point, it feels much easier to stay home and binge eat instead of getting back in the dating saddle. It feels much easier settling instead of finding someone who really gets you.
Really, it does feel easier. It’s like, why can’t a woman catch a break? You’re exhausted from your efforts; hopeless; maybe going a little crazy.
This might feel like rock bottom, and the good news is the only direction to go from there is up. There’s a shiny opportunity to turn your life around with a different approach.
Here are a few nuggets to keep in your pocket as you get off the couch and meet the (wo)man of your dreams:
#1 Get yourself out there and try something new, even if it seems scary. You might find that it wasn’t bad after all.
I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll say it again. Some of us have this vague idea that helicopters are unruly machines that take a highly trained LAPD officer to operate, but for only $175 and with an instructor, I found that flying one wasn’t that bad.
Granted, I wasn’t afraid going into it, but some people might be. Anxiety has a way of telling us freaky stories that simply aren’t true; in fact, one MedCircle video series on anxiety called it “fake news” of the mind.
How does this relate to dating? I’m sure you can figure it out: nerves related to getting back out there, nerves related to meeting someone new, nerves related to first impressions. These worries can keep you from relaxing and taking control of your dating destiny.
I’m sure you can think of really bad worst case scenarios for going on a date, but there are ways to avoid those scenarios and tell yourself how (un)likely they can happen. (Coaching can help with that, too!)
However, if you think of the best case scenarios and set realistic expectations, you can begin to relax and live a little.
#2 Don’t push too hard: Let dating happen organically.
As you might have read above, flying a helicopter takes slow, steady, controlled movements.
I almost liken it to skiing: If you’re about to glide down a Black Diamond slope (an advanced slope in California) for the first time, it helps to remember the basics, which are slow, controlled turns.
There’s no need to go fast to show off to your friends (although, I’m guilty of this); otherwise, you might eat shit (which I’ve done plenty of times).
Dating works the same way! You might be in your 30s and expecting marriage and kids in the next few hours, but that kind of mentality can land you in sketchy situations, such as the wrong partner for the wrong reasons, or no partner at all (because he freaked out).
Take time to get to know the person (or people) you’re seeing. Learn what you have in common. Be present and have fun. You’ve planted the seed; now let the tree grow.
#3 People (and the media) will have their ideas and advice on how to live your dating life, but it’s time to shut out that noise. Ultimately, only your unique experience matters.
This kind of ties in with the first point. How many movies have you seen that had sweat-inducing helicopter crashes? If you were ever interested in flying one, how many times have people told you it would be too hard, so don’t bother?
In dating, how many times have your friends given you unsolicited advice, especially the kind that ended up hurting your game? How many times have the media shaped our ideas of how love and relationships should work? Thanks, rom-coms (romantic comedies)…
It’s time to shut out that noise and listen to yourself. Flick those chatterbox angels and devils off your shoulders that are trying to sway you either way. You know yourself better than anyone else, and real, certified life coaches know that.
If your friends say you shouldn’t go out with someone, follow your heart. Maybe they’re right, but only you can find out for sure.
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