Being up in the air is not at all like being on the ground. It's a good thing that you won't realize how hard it's going to be, in total. If you did, you might not even try. I'll do my best to guide you and, especially in the beginning, to keep things simple and manageable. I won't lie to you, exactly, but I won't tell you the whole truth either.
There will be times when the joy of flying will fill you so completely you will be certain that you might burst. And there will be hours of frustration, days, maybe weeks of dissatisfaction. You may quit, you may cancel a lesson, then another, say you'll reschedule, then silently disappear. And if you do, I won't blame you because I know how hard it is.
I will never be sure what makes you stay, what makes you stick with it. Perhaps it will just be that joyous feeling of being in the air, the way the world's imperfections slowly give way to perfection and beauty. You'll see the endless variations of the earth's surface, how things fit together, and you'll forget about how hard and frustrating it is.
I will regularly critique your performance and though I'll strive to make it constructive, you may take it personally. At least once, maybe more. Sometimes you will blame me, but I won't mind because I've seen this before. You'll rationalize why things are going the way they are because, for whatever reason, being evaluated is uncomfortable and painful. We probably won't talk about the emotional dimension of this because, for some reason, we're not supposed to. I don't know why, but we'll just soldier on. You'll think about quitting again, but the goal of becoming a pilot will have taken a hold on you.
Just as it seems to be getting easier, I'll tell you it's time for me to get out of the airplane. If I've done my job, you'll be nervous but you'll be competent. You'll be safe, a descriptive word often used by instructors and examiners. Safe. Behind that small word is an entire world - your world. And soon you'll be flying more and more by yourself. You'll develop bad habits flying by yourself and I'll point them out on the occasions we fly together. If you're lucky, you'll find a way to accept each critique because for the rest of your flying life, you'll be evaluated.
I'll be there to supervise, provide guidance, evaluate the weather, endorse your logbook, but you'll have adventures on your own. You'll fly to airports you've never visited before. You will get lost, but only for a few minutes. More bewildered than lost because it's hard to spot airports from the air unless you've been there before. You'll get confused, maybe about something a controller says to you or about something in the plane, but you'll figure it out. You may feel embarrassed, but you'll persevere.
Before you know it, you'll prepare for your check ride, And you'll be evaluated, again. My critiques may make you angry, or sad, or disappointed, but by now you will know those demons inside and out. You may snap at me. If you're honest, you may tell me that I used to be nice, that flying with me used to be fun.
After many hours, days, months, you'll take your check ride. The examiner may intimidate you, make you nervous, but it won't really phase you. The maneuvers, the radio calls, the turbulence, the landings, the examiner's demands will all be familiar to you. You'll walk away with a temporary airman's certificate and with a perspective on flying, on learning to fly, that only a pilot can have. You may stop to think about what you've accomplished and how I helped, or you may be too excited to give it a second thought - free at last!
You'll shake my hand and we'll part ways. We may see each other at the airport from time to time, you may ask my advice, but you'll be on your own. You may still hear my voice when you fly, encouraging you, making suggestions, and in stressful times helping you relax.
And by the way, I won't really teach you to fly because no one really knows how people learn to fly. They just do. Mostly I will stand by and keep you safe while you teach yourself.