DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: Like my mother, I am terrified of flying. As a kid, we only took car trips and one cruise because of how my mother was about flying.
So far I have been able to get away without flying more than a very few times, like when my father was critically ill, and then later when I had to get home fast for his funeral when he died. I was already miserable over those circumstances, so between having my wife with me for the trips, and all the emotions connected with my father’s illness and death, I managed to get on those planes.
Now it is a different situation. Reductions at work have meant many of us have had to take on the responsibilities of now gone coworkers. In my case, my supervisor has told me starting this autumn I will be expected to expand the territory I am responsible for covering to include areas I can either take at least a day or two to drive to, or rather hop a flight to.
The former is not the preferred option, since that means lost time, which means a potential drop in the company’s revenues.
So, the long and the short of it is I am afraid I am going to have to tell my supervisor about my fear, and risk having it adversely affect my job, which is something I cannot really afford to do. My company has been generous in compensating those of us still onboard, and my wife and I have based much on that income level.
Am I being unreasonable if I give in to my fear, and do you believe I need to tell my supervisor about it? --- NOT A FAN OF FLYING
DEAR NOT A FAN OF FLYING: While I don’t share your fear of flying, like many people, I too know what it’s like to deal with a phobia, and how hard it is to get past what causes you anxiety.
I’ve had some success in fighting my fear by challenging it. In your case, you’ve proven to yourself that when you had to do it, you were able to get onto a plane.
Reminding yourself of your prior successes against your fear, albeit during difficult times, could prove a useful tool for you to use when it comes to your work travel.
It might also be well worth your while to investigate either proven therapies or short-term medications that can enable you to travel with less stress.
I’d give those options a try before sharing a major potential career limitation with your supervisor. If you’re able to at least start managing your fear of flying, you’ll be able to get where the company needs you to be, and no one at work will perhaps be the wiser.