What Surfing Taught Me
Currently, I live in the middle of Texas. And although surfing might not be my current sport and activity, I realize how much it has taught me when I look back on it. Being active is one thing, but having something you’re passionate about that keeps you healthy is another. Although surfing is one of the best work outs there is, I NEVER looked at it like at work out and I think maybe that’s where people need to start when it comes to being active. Find something you love doing so much you don’t think about it as a sport or working out, but more of a hobby or passion. When you do this - I think you will learn things about yourself and the world. Here’s just a few things that surfing taught me about life.
When I first started surfing it was all about the friendships. I wanted to be on a surf team and hang out with all the people on it. I wanted to make surfer friends and have a little surf clan. I made SO many friends through my sport, and most of them I made out in the ocean. Growing up I may have been made fun of by some of the boys while I was “learning” but most of the girls I made friends with didn’t care how good I was. They just wanted to have camaraderie. I remember paddling out at Lowers in San Clemente with my old friend Lani from Hawaii. She was an Oakley sponsored surfer and extremely talented competitively. Her dad used to tell us to “stay out of the chatroom” at Lowers because he was so concerned with her training (which I understand because she surfed professionally.” STILL, sometimes paddling out into the ocean to talk was all I needed. Or when I was in college, a group of us girls (some who didn’t even know how to stand up on a wave) would paddle out at lunch time between classes with a bag of PBJs we made at the Caf & would sit on longboards and talk about our day. So whether we were talking, eating, or surfing, it was always a good time.
I remember when my other professional bestie at the time, Jasset, would paddle out with me and just talk to me about boys. Even when it was flat! So technically I’d say surfing was good for the mental health as well ;) It was there for me through some big breakups, or when I just needed to clear my mind and watch the sunset. When I hear about people suffering with extreme cases of anxiety or depression, I hope they know about how a specific activity can really ease the mind and give you space to breathe. Growing up, I learned that surfing was this for me - an outlet, a place to take aggression or receive peace.
Surfing definitely taught me patience. I was so bad at it for years before I even started being able to do turns or even ride the face of the wave correctly (and not just go straight on the edge of the whitewash). But learning the skill alone wasn’t the only way surfing taught me patience. Waiting for the next “set” teaches you a lot. In that waiting period, you’re watching the horizon constantly. you’re keeping a look out for a bump in the horizon and the shift in where the waves are going to end up as well. You see one coming? You paddle for it and you miss it. Try two? miss it again. After a few tries the set is over and you have to wait for the next one. I remember in the beginning there were days I would go out for 1-2 hours and then come home and tell my parents I didn’t catch one wave. But once you feel the thrill of a wave and you know what kind of high you get from it, you learn to be patient and persevere because you know there’s a good one on the horizon or in the next session just waiting for you. Not to be cheesy but life’s a lot like that and there’s definitely a lesson to be learned there.
The ocean is also mercurial thing and with it’s ever changing forecast, you always had to be prepared for a new scenario. Big waves, rainy days, flat days, & days when the paddle out takes like 20-30 minutes long alone. Surfing taught me a lot about how to be prepared for ALL kinds of scenarios. The ocean can definitely tend to surprise you. One minute you’re riding the best wave of your life and the next you’re drowning under an intense wave crash, spinning around like the inside of a washing machine, not sure which way is up and then hitting your head so hard you feel like giving up. We’ve all had those days surfing or not - but when you’re doing something you love you learn to get back out there.
It’s so cool to me how a sport alone can be so metaphorical to everyday life situations and how an activity alone can teach you so much about the world and the Lord and everyday dealings. Doing an activity you love can teach you about basic connections and friendship, teach you about how to deal with inner turmoil, how to wait on things, and how to prepare for the best and worst of times. Everyone has a different outlet for this (for my husband it’s running & that definitely has it’s ups and downs too!). If you don’t have an activity that does this for you, explore new outlets till you find one that feels right! Being that I’m in the middle of Texas now, I’m definitely looking for a new one :)