Realizations From Thirty-Five Thousand Feet In The Air

By: Jessica Ekstrom, Guest Blogger

I recently flew on one of the scariest flights of my life. As a public speaker and business owner, I fly almost every week. I don’t get shaken up too easily, but this flight from Miami back to Raleigh had some of the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced.

The woman behind me screamed every time we were lifted from our seats by the turbulence. The man beside me held his toddler in his lap and kept kissing his forehead. I kept seeing people press their help buttons for flight attendants, maybe because they were sick? The captain came on the intercom and announced that the flight attendants were not allowed to leave their seats and that they were looking for a different route to get out of the turbulence. 

I wasn’t at a point of drama where I thought we were going to die, but I didn’t deny the possibility. People say that in “near-death” situations your life flashes before your eyes. That didn’t happen to me, but I did think about my purpose. I looked out the window at all the clouds and felt a strange wave of relief. If my life were to end at 23 years, I can find peace in knowing that the company I started has helped thousands of people and that through my speaking and books, I’ve inspired others to live a life of purpose.

But another realization came over me as I was looking out the window. I let so many little things control me. Recently, I’ve been having anxiety about a potential deal with a big retail buyer for Headbands of Hope. We got interest from them at a trade show a few weeks back and ever since then, it takes me hours to fall asleep and my mind is consumed by pricing, manufacturing, samples, displays, and just worry.


There were so many wonderful things going on in my life and with the company: we donated to amazing hospitals, we received letters and pictures from families, I was chosen to speak at multiple collegiate conferences, and I had an inbox full of letters from students who were inspired by my last talk. 

But yet, I was choosing to spend my energy on the unknown. Instead of relishing these moments of happiness, I was basically ignoring them and focusing on what I don’t have. I struggle with trying to control the unknown, but on the plane, I finally realized that the only thing I can do is to do the best with what I have. Everything after that is up to the universe. If we’re only given so much energy in one day, why am I spending it on worrying about things that are out of my control?

On the plane, I didn’t have regret for things I hadn’t done. I didn’t wish I spent more time with family. I didn’t wish to travel the world. I didn’t wish to do anything tangible. I’ve done a good job at doing everything I want to do in life. I had no regrets for what I was doing in my life but rather how I was living it.

I didn’t need a near death experience to tell me to chase my dreams. I was already doing that. But I needed a reminder to enjoy it along the way. 

Let's Chat! Do you allow your ambitions or worries for the future take you away from the present? How can you rediscover your appreciation for the Here and Now?

About Jessica

JESS_EKSTROM_.jpgJessica is the founder and CEO of her college startup, Headbands of Hope. For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to fund childhood cancer research. She loves speaking on college campuses through CAMPUSPEAK and has recently launched her first book, The Freshman Fabulous: The Girl's Guide to College. When she's not working or speaking, she enjoys trying new foods, doing crossfit, writing (especially for IATG!), taking improv classes, being outside, and helping others find their path to help the world. 





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