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  • Leslie Lynn Nifoussi

Get used to traveling...

If there's one thing that my model friends on Instagram have in common, besides all being unbelievably good-looking and talented, it's that they are always on the go.

Last week, I went from Miami to Marathon Key, to New York, to Orlando, to Tampa, to Jupiter and to St. Pete.

I traveled by car, yacht and airplane in a 24-hour period and I loved every minute of it.

Feeling free to travel and embracing it is a huge part of my job.   I would not have been able to travel like this 10 years ago.  I would have been too scared. 

In 2001, while I was still living in New York City, I was flying home from a Florida vacation and had an embarrassing, anxiety-filled episode.  Mind you, this scene came complete with the pilot coming out to talk to me which, of course, fueled my fear because the next obvious question was...if you're here next to me talking me off of the ledge, WHO IS FLYING THE PLANE?

That was it for me. I didn't step on an airplane again until 2016.  I didn't realize it but there was a lot of upheaval in my life at about that time and it manifested itself into a fear of flying.

I was living in New York, starting out in a new career right after college. We had just lost my then-boyfriend-now-husband's mother to a long battle with cancer, I had already started to have panic attacks at my new corporate job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (that I did not recognize as panic attacks) and I was not enjoying city life like I hoped I would.  

All of those things left me confused.  Add to that a dash of being raised by a mother who was afraid to fly (we spent many of our childhood vacations staring at the Amish folk that lived a safe, fairly-short drive away from us) and you have the perfect recipe for a nice helping of airplane-phobia.

Once my son was born, forget it!  His birth gave my fear more ammunition against me.  Fly?!? With him? Never! Without him? And leave him motherless as I go down in a fiery wreck? Never, ever!!

It pains me to write this even now but I missed my uncle's funeral because I was afraid to get on a plane.  I had to call each of my cousins and beg their forgiveness because I could not get to them and console them. I would not be able to say my goodbyes to their father, my uncle, because of a fear. 

Then, I got over it.  I grew out of my fear. Many, many things happened to me and it took 15 years, but...I got over it.  There was no magic to conquering this fear, just a lot of life experience.  

In the 15 years between my flights, my kids grew up a little which helped because I guess I felt that they didn't need me as much as they did when they were baby-babies. 

I was the survivor of a violent crime and through the aftermath of that event, learned more about anxiety and fear and how your mind creates these issues for you.  Learning about anxiety is one of the best defenses against it and the more I understood about my condition, the easier it became to coexist with it. 

I drove a lot during this break from flying.  We moved to North Carolina from New Jersey and drove the I95 corridor to get back and forth between those states more times than I would like to recount. Each time we made that drive, I realized how dangerous driving can be and how much easier and less stressful it would be to hop on a flight and let the pilot do the work.

I grew tired of being held back by fear. Plain and simple. I wanted to go places, literally and figuratively. So, when we moved from North Carolina to Florida, I had to get my daughter back to North Carolina one last time for her dance recital.  I booked a flight and took her there. It was amazing. It was the perfect flight to break the ice. It was short and I had a travel buddy! I knew that if I was nervous, she'd be nervous.  

And that was it. Grounded for 15 years and then...FREEDOM!  

Sometimes the thought crosses my mind that it would have been amazing to find this modeling career earlier in life. And then, I remember that it just wouldn't have been possible.

I had to go on the journey that I've been on to get where I am today. I had to own my businesses, have my kids, live through a life-changing attack, get over my fear of flying, work on my self-esteem, get a clear picture of what I want out of life...all of these things had to happen and it all took time. 

This post started out as a 'get used to traveling because it's going to happen a lot' warning but I guess it's really about putting fear in the back seat. Not letting it drive.  I hope it doesn't take you 15 years or more to accomplish but if it does, ok. So what. These things take time. Life takes time to live.

So, model friends, I wish you happy, safe travels! 

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