Q: Sally, 24, Aspiring Stewardess:
“This is the third year that I’ve almost come to Antibes to launch my yachting career. Last year I even got as far as booking my flights, but as the day got closer and I heard stories about how hard it is to break into yachting, I freaked out and cancelled my flights, and decided to play it safe by keeping the job I have now. The job’s ok, it’s not fulfilling, but secure, and I really like being financially secure. But each time I pull out of coming to Antibes, I struggle with regret all year, imagining this amazing life I’d have cruising the Med or Caribbean if only I had more guts. So this year I want it to be different. How do I face the fear of it all going wrong, so I can actually follow through, get on the plane, and make it in a yachting career?”
A: The Crew Coach:
Fear’s a funny thing. It’s meant to protect us from doing dumb and dangerous things, but more often it just holds us back from the things we dream of. I’d love to say that it’s dead-easy to get your first job on a yacht, but that’s not exactly true (although it can be really easy if you’re very lucky). I would like to remind you though that hundreds of people do find their first jobs in yachting every single year, and that a large proportion of those people find those first jobs in Antibes. So your plan to head to Antibes is definitely sound!
I’d also like to congratulate you on actually contemplating what might go wrong, as I’ve encountered a lot of green crew turning up in Antibes armed with only blind positivity and no back-up plan or savings. (*cough* that MAY have been me 18 years ago when I arrived in Antibes on a one way ticket with less than 20 quid to my name…) That’s clearly not you, and your risk-averse mind will definitely ensure that you come with enough money, the right training, and having done your research. In truth, in this respect you’re already ahead of the pack when it comes to mentally preparing yourself for possible obstacles to your dream.
Except…of course, that your fear is the biggest obstacle of all, and it’s stopping you from even getting on the path to success.
You’re obviously a planner, so I think an effective strategy might be to get a piece of paper and a pen and drill down into what it’s stopping you from taking action to get what you want.
What are your fears?
Write each one down- even if it seems too obvious, or silly.
Ask yourself: of this list, which ones are ‘real’ fears, based on a distinct possibility? For example, worrying about running out of money or failing your ENG1 test because of colour blindness could be real fears, whereas worrying that people won’t like you so you’ll never find a job is actually something your mind is just making up to freak you out. (It’s trying to keep you safely stuck in the status quo, remember?)
Write down what the worst thing that could happen would be in each of these scenarios. How bad are they? You might have to return home if you’re unlucky and don’t find a job- but is that so awful? What’s worse, living with regret and self-recrimination year in and out, or trying and it not working out?
Finally, write down what steps you can take to reduce the chances that your fears will come true. If you find that you can’t take steps, it’s probably not a fear based in a real risk, but rather a subconscious negative pattern.
Through this exercise, you can not only start to recognise your more irrational fears, but you can come up with an action plan to tackle them.
The next step is to recognise how your body reacts to fear.
Firstly, I want you to think for a minute about how you feel physically when you’re feeling anxious and fearful. Most people tend to feel fluttery in their chest or stomachs, perhaps with shallow breathing.
Now, I want you to imagine how you feel when you are really excited about something.
If you’re like most people, your physiological reaction to excitement will be exactly the same: it will be a fluttery feeling in the chest or stomach, perhaps with shallow breathing. Once you realise that fear and excitement feel much the same, you come to the realisation that they’re two sides of the same coin, and that the most exciting things we can ever do, are sometimes also the ones we fear most! Many actors, singers and performers use this technique to turn their stage nerves into excitement and adrenaline, giving them a rush of confidence to burst into the spotlight.
Some other tips:
If this is really what you want to do but you’re worried you might back out again, I’d recommend buying a non-refundable plane ticket, and perhaps book into training too. I’m guessing that from your comment about wanting to be financially secure, that you’d hate wasting money, am I right – so if you are financially invested you’ll have more reason to stick it out!
You could also consider a trip to Antibes a research holiday, or reccy mission if you like. You might buy a flexible fare and come to Antibes under the proviso that you are just scoping it out. I think you’ll be surprised by how friendly it is, and you’ll get a good sense of the industry just chatting to people. You can dockwalk while you’re here, stay in a crew house to meet other crew, and register with agencies- but you don’t have to commit to getting a job if nothing comes along. That way, you’re not feeling like you’re sacrificing everything or taking a really huge risk, or even courting failure: you’re just sussing things out to see if it’s a good fit. You’ll also meet a bunch of people who are living your dream (and who all started where you are), which will make it seem so much more possible for you to achieve it.
I really hope that these tips help and that you find yourself winging your way towards Nice airport this spring, ready to give it a really great go. Let us know how you go!