Moving to Indonesia as a single woman has truly highlighted the importance of female friendships both in and out of the water. Let’s be real, making lasting friendships as an adult is hard. It takes time to meet like-minded women and form real connections, let alone surround yourself with a group of them. But it turns out surfing was my gateway to bridge the gap of introduction awkwardness by being united in a shared love of waves.
Surfing can be really intimidating as a woman. You only need to look at the line-up to see how male dominated the sport is. Having a solid group of girls to hype you up for the next set and challenge you to paddle for waves can make the difference in giving you the confidence to try new things – whether that’s going left when you normally take off to the right or taking your first steps on the board. The women I’ve met surfing have never shied away from making an inclusive and encouraging environment.
I’ve met some of my closest friends through surfing – here are my top 5 reasons to invest in your female friendships:
They inspire you.
They inspire you. Seeing anyone start a new business or walk effortlessly to the nose of the board is inspiring – but there’s something more real and more personally inspiring when it’s someone you know. When it’s your friend doing the inspirational things, it makes it seem more in reach for you.
Surrounding myself with friends that are chasing after their dreams has given me the strength and encouragement to chase after my own. I met an amazing woman on a surf retreat who took up surfing in her 50s, gradually working towards mastering the art of hanging five on the waves. Her determination was infectious, inspiring me to set my sights on conquering a new skill as well. As I watched her persistently paddle out, fall, and then get back up again with a smile, I couldn’t help but reflect on the value of pushing one’s boundaries.
Through my female friendships, I’ve learned the incredible power of diverse perspectives. This woman’s insights into the challenges she faced as a female surfer entering a traditionally male-dominated sport later in life opened my eyes to a lens I hadn’t considered.
Her experiences of breaking stereotypes and finding her unique voice resonated deeply with me. It’s within these connections that we find a vantage point we might not have seen otherwise.
Just as the ocean is in a constant state of change, so too should we be when it comes to personal growth. Being surrounded by friends who strive for excellence encourages us to evolve, adapt, and avoid stagnation. Like the waves that rise and fall, we must be willing to rise to new challenges and overcome the falls. Through these friendships, we learn that progress isn’t always linear, and setbacks are simply opportunities for comebacks.
They challenge you.
Surf friends challenge you to be a better surfer and a better version of yourself. It’s so easy to get comfortable surfing in the same spots, in the same way it is to get stuck working the same job. But it’s the different perspective, constructive criticism and gentle push from a friend that gives us the space to grow. I know which friends to go to when I need support, and I know which ones to go to when I need some tough love. Often it’s the tough love that challenges us not to stagnate and to see our worth. Whether it’s speaking up at work for a long overdue pay raise, ending that situationship, or paddling out to catch a set wave.
Advice is a form of nostalgia. It’s also the difference in perspective that can give us the angle we might have been missing all this time. The experience of others is invaluable, and by having the grace to seek it from our friends we can unlock new ways of accomplishing things. Take for example, another passion of mine: bouldering, and what I love most about the sport is the ingenuity its climbers have to see the different paths up the same wall.
There is no “right” one to take. You may be struggling with a route or maneuver, only to see someone else use a different one that you had not even noticed until they took it. It’s the same in surfing, whilst there is a level of standard practices and movements, each person carves out their own style in a sport that factors in the way they move, their body, and their board. I’m always learning the most when watching and listening to others, and my surfing experience has only ever been enriched by the knowledge of my friends.
So, while it may not always be easy having friends who can challenge us to be our best selves, these are the friends who propel us toward growth and show us the heights of our potential.
They understand you.
They understand you. There’s something so special about the friends that never require an explanation. They understand your quirks, your eccentricities, and where you might sometimes fall short but how best to support you. They know how to say what you need to hear when you need to hear it most. Our friends understand that we (like they) are not perfect human beings, we each carry our own traumas, anxieties, faults, flaws, baggage and more; and that sometimes our reactions to things are less than favorable. But they can look at those missteps with understanding and empathy. You don’t have to explain yourself to them because they already get you. We’re all experiencing the ‘mortifying ordeal of being known’ when we open ourselves up to new friendships, but my closest friendships have never felt mortifying. They’ve held up the uglier parts of myself to light and not even flinched.
They support you.
They support you. When I was about to launch my business, Noserider Surf Club, I was actually on an all female surf retreat. I had literally just met these girls, but after a week of surfing, eating incredible food, and long talks over coconuts at sunset, it felt like I had known them for so much longer. When it came to launch weekend, the girls rallied together to do a last minute photoshoot, helped fine tune my website, and promoted it to their own personal networks. Being surrounded by a group of talented women who were willing to not just cheer me on, but contribute their time and skills to help me succeed is something I’ll never forget. I’m still friends with these girls today.
They multiply your happiness.
They multiply your happiness. Many people have heard of the obscure but precise german word Schadenfreude – the feeling of feeling joy at someone’s misfortune. How odd it is that we never talk about its antonym, Freudenfreude – the happiness and shared joy we feel when others succeed. This is how I feel when I see the women in life succeeding. Their success and happiness feels like mine too and enriches the world around me. But it goes beyond empathetically feeling their happiness as my own. With each passing year, I value and appreciate the friends who continue to stand by me through thick and thin. They’re the ones with an endless supply of encouragement, ready to energize me with zeal as I’m working towards my goals.
When I need a place to stay, there’s always a spare bed in their home and food on the stove. They’re the ones that listen to an 8 minute voice note and respond to every single point you made in thorough detail. They’re the ones you end up with in the kitchen at 3am in a never ending conversation. They’re the in-jokes and unique language you build and share together. They’re the people you laugh so hard with your sides ache. The closeness and sisterhood I’ve found in female friendships compares to nothing else. As Dolly Alderton says “nearly everything I know about love, I’ve learnt from my long-term friendships with women” and there’s a reason this quote resonates with so many, myself included. No one will ever be as uniquely funny, intelligent ,or magnetic as the women I’m lucky enough to have in my life today.
In our crazy busy lives today, where we’re juggling work, family, and relationships, it’s easy to let friendships slide or take a back seat. People often downplay their importance in the grand scheme of things. But investing in your female friendships isn’t something you can just shrug off.
These connections, whether you’re catching up over coffee or catching waves, are so important. When life gives us unexpected challenges, these friendships have our backs – they remind us of our value, the importance of our dreams, and that we are loved.