Surfing– cheeky bikinis, bright blues and a whole lot of aloha. Chances are, that’s what you think of when you think about surfing (am I right?).
After an invigorating surf lesson (or two) in a tropical paradise far, far away from reality, you’re eager to get back in the water. This time it takes you 30 minutes to wiggle into a wetsuit, the water feels below-freezing, the ocean is filled with over-ambitious avid surfers, the waves are rough (like, really rough), and no one is telling you when to paddle or when to attempt a turtle-roll. Even the sun sets in paradise, right?
Paddling out in your local ocean can be extremely frustrating and hard, but if you do it right, it can also teach you a lot about yourself and about life. Here’s what I learned while learning how to surf;
1. If you are lucky enough to live close to the ocean, then you are lucky enough. Although I’d prefer walking distance, my humble abode (in northern California) is conveniently located 30 miles from the ocean, which makes for an easy spontaneous surf-trip. It’s no Waikiki, but having the option to load the boards on top of the car and head over the hill on a whim makes for a nice weekend-getaway. After a few surf trips you’ll find that even after the most unsuccessful day, just being in the water was a win in itself.
2. Patience is the virtue. In surfing, patience is almost as important as having a surfboard (I’m serious). About 70% of your day in the water is spent waiting– waiting for the perfect wave, or any wave at all (which you may or may not catch). There is something comforting in knowing that the best times (or waves) of your life haven’t happened yet, and that’s something worth waiting for.
Note: having an overly-patient and supportive boyfriend as a surf instructor helps
3. Perseverance is the key. Whether you’re paddling to avoid being obliterated by the building swell (again), or you’re paddling your heart out because you actually want to catch the wave– perseverance is your friend here. Let’s be honest, after hours of failed attempts all you want to do is paddle back to the dry sand and finish what’s left of your breakfast burrito that you grudgingly left behind for low-tide, crack open a cold-brew and bask in the warm sun. I promise, if you keep at it, that celebratory beer will taste so much better when you finally catch your first wave in. Sometimes we have to go for 9 waves before we can catch the 10th; this applies not only to surfing, but to everyday life.
4. Fear is your worst enemy. Let’s state the obvious; you will fall off of the board (a lot), you will probably get trapped underwater in a series of oncoming waves (cue the anxiety), and there are sharks lurking around in the ocean below you. Sounds scary, right? Sure, paddling into the unknown is scary. Surfing forces you to let go and live on the other side of fear, where the magic happens.
Life’s a wave, catch it.