Self-Care Challenge (Day 63): Loving the Middle Seat

sunset near the tip of an airplane wing

On day 63 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored the difficult task of loving the middle seat. (Hear me out.)

Okay, no one really loves the middle seat. In fact, it’s probably the least coveted seat.

I’ve traveled enough to know that travelers can be quite inflexible when it comes to choosing seats on an airplane, and middle seat fights are the worst. Southwest’s unique boarding process probably eliminates some of the more hostile exchanges between seatmates, but other airlines are moving targets.

Here’s what I have observed:

Those who choose aisle seats mean business. They become visibly angry if someone even hints that they are posturing to request a seat swap. I mean, how dare you think they would be okay with sitting by a window? And, likewise, those who select window seats are equally hard to budge. After all, where do you expect them to sleep with nothing to lean on?

On 99% of flights, I witness these near-violent exchanges from my middle seat. Since my husband was not designed to fit in the average coach seat, I usually voluntarily take the middle one so he has more room.

And to be clear, I’ve never exactly loved the middle seat either. In the middle, you have the pleasure of getting to know strangers on a much more intimate level: their breathing patterns, snoring tendencies, body odors, food preferences and eating habits. And sometimes you also get to learn some very personal things you wish you didn’t know: the results of their x-rays and other medical tests, details of their relationship problems, or laundry list of their favorite complaints about life. The middle seat is like spinning a roulette wheel. The odds are pretty good there will be some sort of drama on one side or the other.

No one wants the middle seat, but nearly a third of passengers get stuck with it.

So maybe that’s why I decided to start loving it. By focusing on the good things about the circumstance, I’ve learned to accept and even enjoy the experience. I’ve met some really interesting people. I’m happy knowing that my husband is more comfortable. I only have to climb over one person when I have to use the lavatory. It’s warmer in the middle. The lighting is better. And no one (I mean not ever) asks to switch seats with me.

How do you react to life’s inconveniences? The choice is yours. Learning to love your circumstances, whatever they may be, is a gift to yourself.

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