1- It’s all about commitment.
I know what you are thinking now : “Oh yeah, tell me something I don’t know!” Right?
Well, I wish I could tell you something completely unexpected, that I’ve discovered a shortcut, or else that you just have to put on June Swimwear‘s latest bootykini to see your skills improve like that (althought that booty might at least boost your self-confidence 🙂 ).
But no. Surfing asks you to dive in a one hundred per cent. That’s just a big bold fact.
Just like you, I feel like I always kind of knew, from seeing really motivated surfers, that it was about commitment. About the early mornings. About the many hours spent in the water. About paddling out pretty much no matter what the conditions are. Commitment in surf is also about going ALL IN when you want a wave; paddling with intention and a full-on desire to get out and drop in – no matter what. You can’t just kindaaaa wanna be a surfer and expect to kick ass overnight.
Well, with that being said, I knew that I simply wasn’t ready to commit…
If I had the choice between going for a surf or going for a yoga class, I would choose yoga. Sunset surf sesh or happy hour?… Hell yeah, happy hour !! Perhaps, I would simply choose that other option that was more comfortable. Easier. That I mastered better. Because ya, let’s be honest, it is quite exhausting and frustrating to be an adult-beginner at anything! Passionfruit mojitos have never made me feel like I was swimming for survival with my ass fully exposed from the last wipeout… Just saying.
But then I found myself in Popoyo, Nicaragua, for 2 months, with very little distractions or things to do, a good surf buddy and a very consistent wave. And it happened: I committed. I went and paddled out every single day. I chose surf over yoga. I chose surf over sunset drinks. I put my alarm to go surf… And finally, freakin’ finally, commitment paid off!
At some point, you start to see the improvement, you get more comfortable, you start doing small maneuvers… And this is it. You want more ! You realize then that you don’t even have to force yourself to go out, to commit; it naturally becomes that ONE thing you wanna do above all the rest. You are fully hooked !!! :O
2- Hold on to your board like your life depends on it.
Even thought all the glam around surfing comes from riding a wave, we can’t help but mention all the time spent on your belly, paddling like a puppy in a pool, trying to survive the threatening whitewash coming your way in full blast (and secretly thinking to yourself: aaah fuck!).
Learning to duck dive is a challenge in itself and such a next-level-unlocking skill! Not only does it allow you to enter & survive more radical breaks, but it also saves a lot of energy!
But even with all that considered, when the whitewash is a few milliseconds away from hitting us straight in the face, our first reflex normally is to ditch the board as far as possible, and give ourself to the mercy of the ocean as a ragdoll. However, I’ve realized that wether you are duck diving or doing a what we call a turtle dive (spinning under your board), if you actually hold on very strongly to your board during this hustle and bustle, your life will actually gets real better !!! Why ? Because your surfboard is a big floatable device and will undoubtedly keep you at the surface instead of letting the waves push you twenty-five meters under sea level to visit the deep sea creatures. Holding on to your board will normally drag you back up in a split second and that’s pretty game-changing :).
Also, safety wise (and it is a lot wiser!) that floatable device ain’t no big squishy humpback whale. Letting it fly away is a kook move and very killer for yourself and everyone around you.
3- Nobody remembers the wave you did not catch…
There’s a few words that don’t go well together: “Learning to Surf” and “Well-Conserved Ego”…
As we all know, the thing with surfing is that you obviously can’t practice in your basement until you get good enough to show your skills to the world.
It is basically one of the sports that asks for the most vulnerability; you have nowhere to hide when sitting in the middle of the playground, very little clothing on (and sometime you just lose it all), and most of the time you are surrounded by an average ratio of 20 boys for 1 girl.
Let’s just say it: you feel like everybody is watching you make a fool of yourself.
You feel like everybody knows that you have not much idea what the frick you are doing and where you should really position yourself.
You feel like everybody is laughing their ass off when you disgracefully nosedive over the fall and come out with your hair all over your face.
Here is what I’ve learned : They. Are. Not.
In life, as in surfing, nobody remembers you for your wipeouts, failures and setbacks. When you manage to catch your wave, the only thing they’ll remember is that perfect ride. And the more waves your try, the more you catch. Simple equation.
If you paddle out, and don’t commit to any wave because you are too scared of embarrassing yourself in front of people, you’ll end up sitting out the back for hours, bored, anxious, unsatisfied, with your thoughts racing… and then you’ll be what we call a “buoy” in english and “boya” in spanish. 🙂 !
Truth is that if you are not failing, it’s because you are not even trying. And that’s way more lame.
Do you have the guts to fail in order to succeed ???
Change your mindset. Visualize yourself and HOW you gonna catch great waves. Breathe deeply to dissipate nervousness. Be present. Talk to yourself kindly. And forget about what others might or might not be thinking. Seriously, everyone is way too concerned about their own insecurities to be judging you. Action create momentum, so get after that perfect ride and try, try, try !!
“I think that in order to reach our true potential we really need to be continually challenged. Whether people got completely destroyed by the waves or not, at the end of the day they challenged themselves. They put themselves in a situation that the majority of human beings wouldn’t even think about putting themselves in, so in my mind they evolved.”- Srinivas Rao, The Skool of Life
4- Celebrate the small wins
Celebrate your small wins with a week-long of happy hour 😀 !
After 6 months of daily surfing, and about 7 years since I first “started” surfing, I can still tell you that this sh*t takes time. Sometimes you go out and have the best time of your life as it seems like you’ve finally understood it all. And sometimes it sucks balls big time and you want to burn your surfboard.
It’s ok, you are not alone!
If you keep focusing on the idea of becoming as good as the other people out there who’ve been surfing since they can walk, you will keep feeling disappointed, and that might just ruin your desire to even keep trying. I’ve quite honestly thought ”Fuck this” a few good times and that’s probably why I became a yoga teacher instead 😛 …
With each session, find ONE THING that you are proud of, and own that!
It can be that:
You’ve paddled out and got wet even if you didn’t really felt like it.
You’ve passed the break with dignity.
You’ve done 3 good duck dives.
You’ve met a new person in the line-up.
You tried a new spot.
You were the only girl out there.
You didn’t panic when the bigger sets came in or when you were held underwater for what felt like a long time.
You’ve truly tried hard and paddled at least 5 waves.
You caught 1 (or 2 or 3) great ones.
You’ve exited the water without getting a sandpit in your bikini…
Every session brings a new little piece, it is never wasted time. You learn how waves work, how to position yourself, where to sit on your board, how to react faster, when to move in because the tide is changing or move to the outside because a set is coming, and you develop your instinct.
And in any case, just celebrate how gifted you are to currently be by the sea, alive, healthy and able to spend some time playing in the ocean (while others are currently working their ass off or doing whatever thing you hate doing lol ) !!! Waohh so lucky !
5- Last but not least, lay days are totally fine 🙂
As we said before, surfing requires you to put the time in, in order to see results, and sometimes your days by the sea are counted so you just wanna go all in to make the most of it.
But you know what, having a lay day, also known as a day off from surfing, might sometimes be the best thing you could do to improve !!
Surfing is both exhausting physically and mentally, and specifically demanding for some muscles that we normally don’t use much…
So when you wake up feeling your whole upper body as heavy as a tone of brick, and that your guts & courage seem to be having a coffee date far from here: don’t hit yourself. Sit back in an hammock, go for a smooth yoga class, use a ball or a foam roller to massage yourself. Or again, use this time to go watch other people surf with a cold drink in hand or watch videos that would help you get excited for the next day.
It is no rocket science that your body do need recovery time. When you go back to the water, you will feel way more powerful !!!
And remember, this is just a game. Surfing might be hell of a “good-looking and cool-as-frick” sport, but in the end it’s really just all about having fun, meeting awesome people, being in the nature, and challenging yourself ! Do all things with a positive spirit or not at all; This is the true learning.
“[At the end of surf session,] you leave with nothing but a feeling. After investing the time, taking the risk, and expending a lot of energy in this, you walk away with no certificates, no trophies, and certainly no more money – nothing tangible whatsoever (unless, of course, surfing is your profession). The only true gain is emotional. And such is life. For this reason, we should think hard about why we do certain things in the first place. At the end of it all, we take nothing to the grave, but a collection of experiences and memories. -Kent Haley, The Uncommon Life