Kryptonite Superpower

Kryptonite Superpower

I often think about what sparks a person’s interest in a particular field of study. I got into aviation because of my love of space. As I went through training, I gained skills to handle different situations. On more than a few occasions, people have asked me how I can be a pilot or train others to fly because the individual thinks what I do is terrifying. When I stop to think about it, I can see their point. I get into an airplane with a person who doesn’t know how to fly, land, or talk on the radio. The student is completely relying on my training and my skills to be able to keep them safe while I teach them how to operate the plane. Basically, it’s like driver’s education in an airplane. While this may seem scary to some, it is invigorating to me to be able to teach an eager student to fly, which is something I am passionate about. No matter what your skills or field of study, we each have a gift. As I have grown in my talents and gifts, I have uncovered areas in my life that I have realized have helped me develop the skills necessary to be what I will call “numb” to the things that others consider “terrifying” in my field. I have realized that while I personally love flying and teaching, my life circumstances have prepared me to handle circumstances in an airplane fearlessly.

When I was growing up, I was raised in a household with Type 1 diabetics. My dad, two brothers, and grandmother all have the condition. Additionally, my older brother has severe epilepsy, which developed the year he got diabetes. He was always in the hospital for one of the two diseases and we became accustomed to entertaining ourselves while waiting there. I can recall a time or two where I took the liberty of initiating a game of hide-and-seek in the hospital. I’m sure the staff was not amused, but we had fun nonetheless. At the age of six and up, I got my blood drawn regularly as part of a sibling study for researching diabetes, causes, and prevention. It never bothered me, watching the blood fill up in the vials. I enjoyed doing something that could help my brothers, and others with the same condition. My brothers got to go to cool camps for only diabetics, which I was always a bit envious of. While my sister and I have never developed diabetes of any sort, we grew up in a household where diabetes was the norm. We learned how to recognize when something was off and how to care for someone in a diabetic emergency.

In the Superman comics, kryptonite is an alien mineral that weakens Superman’s powers. Recently I had a thought: What if the kryptonite is actually a super power? For example, while Superman was affected by kryptonite, others around him had to find the courage and ingenuity to handle problems themselves, even step in and help protect Superman. In my case, I found that while my brothers both had medical conditions of varying degrees, I learned to deal with traumatic situations from a young age. I was no stranger to hospitals, dealing with emergencies, or ambulances. It has taken time to realize that my “normal” was not normal to everyone else. But let’s be real: what is normal? People grow up in different neighborhoods, have different family dynamics, and have different experiences. My normal was dealing with medical situations on a regular basis and learning to care for my family along the way. I have come to appreciate that these situations have actually made it possible for me to deal calmly with situations I might encounter in an airplane. Emergencies are just a checklist away from being non-emergencies. This is not to say that I am immune to freaking out, but I have learned to deal with the immediate problem at hand and to think quickly through the steps necessary to handle the situation.

I suppose everyone handles challenges differently, but I have come to understand that things are going to happen in life and I try to learn from them in order to be better prepared in the future. I have gained quick-thinking skills that have served me well in life as well as a decisive nature. My husband and I tend think through things of varying difficulties and make a decision on them in a quick manner. We are not typically the people to sit on a decision for months. In a matter of a weekend, we decided my husband would work for the regional airlines, we would move across the country, and I would begin homeschooling the children. While we had talked about aspects of each of those items over the years, we knew that when the time was right, it would all fall into place quickly. We decided to look at RV’s and in a matter of a couple weeks, had purchased one and began preparing for our full-time travel lifestyle. The quickest decision I recall us making is deciding to buy an electric vehicle this past year within a matter of three days. We had been debating on changing vehicles, but had not had a need to until we knew we were traveling to the west coast and did not want to continue paying for increasingly expensive gas.

Recently I was contemplating a few things in life and I realized that the way we operate might sound completely odd to others. As I dove into why I am the way I am, I realized my upbringing gave me a unique perspective to view life. Nothing is guaranteed, life can change in an instant, which is why I came to having backup plans. I never questioned if the way I operated was unusual because it was normal to me. While being prepared is one skill I have developed over the years, it is definitely something that comes naturally due to life circumstances and can also be learned if one desires to. For example, at the age of ten, we went to visit my grandmother in the nursing home. It was probably around January in Kansas and it had snowed there. The parking lot was plowed and there was a large pile of snow to one side. As usual, my brother and I went to occupy ourselves and of course ended up in the snow pile. Upon completion of hours of fun, we came inside soaked. I recall my mom recounting the story, telling me that she was so mad we got soaked, then laughing to finish the tale with something along the lines of, “But you said don’t worry, I have extra clothes for both of us!” I had learned to be prepared at a young age, which I can appreciate today because it helps me to realize that no matter what age a person is, skills can be picked up and mastered. As I raise the children, I remind myself that we are teaching them things, whether we intend to or not. Being prepared is something I gained because of necessity with medical conditions in my family. I can now appreciate the skill more now than I could then.

These situations have helped mold me into the person I am today. Right or wrong, good or bad, life is going to happen. I have learned to fail forward (SEE PREVIOUS POST HERE) each time as well as learn how to be better prepared in the future. There are plenty of times I was caught unprepared and learned from it. It recently became glaringly obvious to me that my usual “go bag” of snacks, water bottles, and a first aid kit may or may not be normal for others, but it has sure come in handy in aviation and parenting!

I have learned to appreciate the kryptonite of trauma and medical distress which helped me to learn quick decision making, preparedness, and planning skills. Can you relate?

What is something that has happened in your life that might be considered your kryptonite but in fact, has helped build your strengths that you use today?

Signing off,

-BG Barnstormer

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