Contributed by Hannah Louise Aliazas
“Use the pain as fuel as a reminder of your strength"
This photo with my sister was taken 2 years ago on her graduation day. Mind you, she’s my younger sister but she's 5' 6" tall and I’m only 5 ft. flat tall. Life is unfair, huh? That day marks the start of her career as a flight attendant of Philippine Airlines. I felt so proud of her. I should be. Right? At least one of us achieved what we have been praying for. She’ll be able to see my mom we haven’t seen for 8 years in London, see the world and live her dream. I thought that was enough. It should be enough. Shouldn't it? Amidst my sister’s achievement, behind my smile was a hurting heart. Deep inside my sinful heart bore bitter feelings of resentment toward my countless rejections and failures in life.
“Use the success of others as a Mirror – The light we see in others can help us see our own and appreciate it”
My first rejection for cabin crew application was in a local airline. I was told that my height is only 5 ft. tall and their minimum required height wasn’t met. I gave up my dream right then and there. I thought I would never stand a chance. I felt so helpless knowing that height is something you can’t effortlessly gain. I took my chances on every airline in PH. You name it. To my dismay, I'd always be eliminated on the height and weight check not making it even at least to the initial interview.
My confidence was severely dented. I felt so ugly. I no longer remember how many times I made an effort to doll myself up, spent grands for expensive formal clothes, makeups and queued very long for hours without getting at least an interview to prove them I am worthy of the job. Maybe its fair to say I was rejected more than your fingers could count. I spent 5 years tortuously dwelling on being turned down as I watch my friends fly. I asked God when will it be my turn? Every time there will be an open day or a hiring event for cabin crew aspirants, I always have second thoughts ‘bout going or not. Am I still going to give it another shot, take the pain and be willing to go for broke? I thought I’ve humiliated myself enough to stop pursuing what I wanted to happen. I couldn’t even pass 1 out of 4 stages of interviews. How on earth could I possibly make it to the final stage? Getting multiple rejections made me feel unworthy of the job. I almost listened to people. I was told to better find a career where I will be good at. I couldn’t think of any job where I will be good at.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart.
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He will make your paths straight" - Proverbs 3:5-7
Despite the probability of a 5 ft. tall getting a flight attendant job, I kept my hopes high. I desperately start doing yoga everyday at home and grasp my hands on monkey bars as I hang to stretch my extremities. I thought it would make me taller. Unfortunately, it did not make me any taller. While stretching doesn’t make us any taller, it temporarily helps us to reach longer. So I needed to do yoga as mich as I could.
Adding more anxiety, I was 65 kilos 6 months ago when I applied in Saudi Arabian Airlines. According to my height, they have strictly mandated to maintain a minimum weight of 47 kg and a maximum weight of 55 kg. I had to lose 10 kg in 1 ½ month real quick. I have an incredibly slow metabolism so I had to hit the gym 5 days in a week and ate like a chicken for several weeks.
My predicament did not stop there. I have a scar and speech defect that was caused by a childhood trauma. Being a reserved and quiet person, speaking up was my daily struggle. Back when I was attending classes from grade school to college, my weekly agitation would be the class reporting/class presentation. I’d stutter and tremble in front of everyone. Every time I’ll be assigned to report in front of the class, I’d always find myself inexplicably stuttering & spluttering while reporting or merely just having a simple conversation with my friends. I told myself “it will never be possible for me to sell myself to any employers” and “If I ever get a chance to get in this job, I will never be confident around people in a diversified airline”. In absence of prayers, Satan would taunt me and put negative thoughts in my head like “you’ll never go through this, you’ll just embarrass yourself again and fail because you’ve always been a failure.”
It was only this year, just in time for my dental braces removal, something miraculous happened.
July 1, 2017
I put my job at stake and signed for a 1 week sick leave to prepare for Saudia’s and Qatar Aiways’ Open Day. Absurd. Right? To cut the story short, my little white lie did pay off. I got accepted by both Airlines! Who would have thought that someone who never even got a chance to pass 1 of 4 stages interview would finally live her dreams.
July 14, 2017
I chose Saudi Arabian Airlines. Well technically, the airline chose me 😅. It would be a risk for me to hide my noticeable scars from Qatar Airways. A friend working in the Airline told me they were required to undergo another medical and skin screening while wearing solely underwear. Tattoos and scars are not acceptable. If they find any unacceptable marks on your body, visible or not, you will be sent back to the Philippines.
I wouldn’t want that to happen. At first, I asked my doubtful self “Did I make a good or a bad decision? Qatar Airlines is a 5-star airline. It could’ve been a better opportunity” Practically speaking, it is a better choice. Talking about better compensation, better salary and benefits.
But weighing the pros and cons, the risk, I could’ve been left with nothing. Also, my personal needs and reasons added more weight for pros with Saudia.
"Sometimes the very things we think are awful turn out to be a great blessing.
The greatest trial can develop in you the greatest faith”
What really made a big impact to my personality were the hardships that God allowed to happen. My family’s financial problem, the people who made my height and weight a laughing stock and the person who cheated on me pushed me to becoming a better person every day. If God took those hardships away from my life, I could’ve been just a happy-go-lucky person lying in bed waiting for a miracle to happen.
Back in college, I was working as a full-time call center agent for 3 years while studying. In terms of how my average day would pan out, I usually get up at 0600 and try to do yoga for an hour, which is something I’ve had to force myself to do because my evenings are constrained by work, lectures or study. My class starts usually at 0800 and ends at 1700. Everyday, I would rush and brave the traffic in EDSA to be on time and start working at 6pm– 2am. I would sleep scarcely for 3-4 hours. Despite all those struggles, it all paid off.
I had 9 different jobs before becoming a Flight Attendant, ranging from a call center agent to a Starbucks barista to an English tutor and when I finally graduated from college, I became a commercial executive at Airbus Helicopters. — life is really weird sometimes. I think all of my jobs prepared me for a cabin crew job in one way or another, but honestly, I think the job that helped the most were both working in a call center and my job in Airbus. In a lot of ways, it both showed me the real world.
Basically, all experiences made me more mature, wiser, bolder and stronger. It reminds me of how all the hardships, pain and struggles in our lives could change you. When you are rejected from something good, it often means you’re being redirected to something better. Be patient. Be positive. And remember, no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
Perseverance effectively brings us to success in as much as kindness does. Kindness in words creates confidence and motivation. Kindness in thinking creates positivity and possibility. Kindness in giving creates strength and love. Through kindness you have the ability to make a profound difference in every life you touch, including your own. Far too many girls dream to become a flight attendant. Sadly, some doesn’t use their talent in speaking to utter sensible topics. Instead, they spread negativity and judge applicants who made it to the final stage. I have heard gossips like "How come that girl passed instead of me? Look at her, she is not even pretty at all!"
My dear sisters, it is not all about the physical appearance. That girl they insulted may be lacking of pleasing physical appearance but they forgot about the ultimate qualities interviewers are looking for - attitude and brains. Instead of spending your energy sour graping, be the right person for the job. Be so busy improving yourselves, you won't have time criticizing or talking about other people's lives. Guide someone who is lost and confused, hold someone who is sad and grieving, when you hug someone who has lost all their hope, you too will feel yourself healing and growing stronger. So do your little bit of good right where you are. It make a whole lot difference not only for others but for your own well-being.
My experience may sound easy peasy for some people. But for someone who isn't fortunate to be tall enough, it was hard and frustrating. It was so frustrating I stopped believing I could.
What kept me fueled and roused? It was the thought of being old and sick sitting on a rocking chair wondering what my life could have been if I took the risks.
Don’t give up.
Easier said than done. Right?
It will be hard but it will be worth it.
If you don’t believe in yourself, who else would?
Can you imagine yourself sitting on a rocking chair old and unable to do things you love? Thinking all the things you should’ve done and risks you should’ve taken?
Can you picture yourself looking at the mirror with wrinkles on your face?
Thinking what could’ve happened if you’ve tried it one more time?
Would you live your life like that?
I wouldn’t want to. I really hope you wouldn’t too.
My height was one of my flaws and weaknesses, but by God’s grace it became my strength to reach out to many and inspire people.
If you’ve graduated college without having any financial difficulties, add 1 point for you.
If you’re taller than me, that’s a 1 big tick off your qualification list.
If you’re skinnier and fit than me, you got another point.
If you’re an outspoken person, another 1 point for you.
Sum up every point you got and take it as an advantage. If I can do it, so do you! <3
Don’t pray for a smooth sailing life amidst the storm,
Pray that the storm may lead you to where your faith will be strong.
Do your best,
God will do the rest.
God bless everyone!