Radical Acceptance: Airport Edition

A few weeks ago, my partner and I were flying to Boston to visit some friends we hadn’t seen since COVID began. We had a fun weekend ahead of us and a convention we were really excited for. For those of you that know me…. when I am traveling, I have everything meticulously planned to a ‘T’. It was 7:30am, I had my coffee in hand, everything packed, and we were on our way to the Philadelphia airport for a flight at 10am to Boston. I mean.. you never know right? Things could happen.

And we’re off! We start driving, and as soon as we hit the highway, we see bright red lights. Never a good sign. Google maps added 15+ minutes to our travel time due to an accident. Not ideal, but that’s why you leave early. Playing some music, enjoying my Starbucks, and we’re suddenly back on track to starting going again.

It is 8am, and we start driving up to airport parking… a large gate greets us and a big sign that says “entrance closed due to construction, go to XXX entrance instead on XXX avenue”. Another roadblock, but you know what? This stuff happens, it’ll be okay, we have extra time. So we plug in the new address to Google, and the other entrance is 10 minutes away.

Radical Acceptance: Airport Edition

We start driving again and 10 minutes later, we are right back at that gate. Did we make a wrong turn or pass the gate?

We put on our problem-solving hats.

I bring up the airport’s website to fact check the address and all our facts are correct. Google is just having a lot of trouble locating where this address is. We try looking around again, and we are driving in circles for 30minutes.

It is 8:30 and at this point and panic sets in for both of us. Are we going to find parking? Is the TSA going to take hours to get through? Are we going to miss the flight? Is that money going to waste?

We tried one more solution, using an alternative route on Apple Maps. 10 minutes later and we see the finish line! We park and we are singing praises to the parking lot Gods. It is almost 9, and we make our way toward security in the airport. As we approach, my partner’s face goes white as we see the line is 10 miles long. “We’re not going to make it.” he says in disbelief.

And then something clicks.

My partner in utter panic looks at me and asks how I can be so calm. And I say “we did everything we could. If we don’t make it, things will be okay and we will make the best of it. We couldn’t predict this.”

The environment was too powerful after all.

However! By the grace of Marsha Linehan, another agent opened up a new line, effectively putting us 5 miles closer to check-in. We were able to make it to boarding by the skin of our teeth at 9:30am.

Radical Acceptance is about accepting reality as it is in the moment (just the facts!)

The misconception is that when we accept something, we also approve of it. Do you think I accepted that airport commute from hell? Absolutely not. But the reality was that was my situation, and I had to accept it whether I liked it or not.

Sometimes we have to accept to first in order to change, and other times we have to accept situations that can’t change (or at least can’t change right away). By accepting that the environment was too powerful, I was able to have a clearer mindset that allowed me to problem solve to the best of my ability. If I ended up missing the plane, I would have HAD to accept, as I can’t get on a plane already in the sky! I would have needed to dust off my knees, accept defeat, wipe my tears, and keep moving.

Reality acceptance is often the skill we don’t want to hear about, and it’s the skill that we need. Give it a try and see how it feels. You might be surprised how lighter the weight on your shoulders feel.

DBT of South Jersey media

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