A few weeks ago the photo of a woman with a surfboard on Facebook caught my eye. I commented, longingly, something about wanting to surf but the longing was a bit more than that, this woman looked so happy and carefree and present, in the moment. Turns out that woman, Senka, was the owner of Adventure Girls, and she replied enthusiastically inviting me to a women only beginner’s surf lesson. So before I could over think it but after asking if she had any wetsuits in my size, (she laughed and said yes of course) I signed up. And a few days later had managed to rope in a friend too.
If you follow me on Instagram you will be familiar with my recent posts about feeling anxious. Last year I made a massive life change, deciding to become self employed because I was struggling and feeling stifled in a toxic environment. And it’s no surprise that by simply removing myself from that environment, my mental health improved bucketloads. However I am naturally anxious and it is getting worse as I get older. Often if I can’t control a situation, I feel anxious. For no real reason.
Any one who has suffered anxious feelings knows that it’s easy to sign up to stuff and say yes, but the actual DOING IT is quite a lot harder. As someone who often wants to say yes (or who says yes but then bails) I began to regret my decision to book into this class, so far out of my comfort zone. So I decided that as long as I got in the water and gave it a go, that was all anyone could expect from me. I am a bit of a walking contradiction…. I don’t feel any need to conform to other people’s standards. I don’t really care if anyone else thinks I’m shit, but I put myself under a lot of pressure to succeed.
So I gave myself permission to be a bit crap.
I have cruised through life being naturally pretty good, or great at quite a few things. Great at skills that allowed me to secure awesome jobs, and great at things that allow me to work for myself building a new business from scratch. I regularly joke that I have a life motto – “If I can’t be good at something within ten minutes then I don’t want to know about it” and it’s not too far from the truth.
We are pushed our whole lives toward the things we show natural ability for, the things we find easiest because those are our strengths. But as we get older, and we have less exposure to new experiences, what does that mean for our ability to adapt and to grow and to be resilient? I’m reminded of the saying that as we age we become more like ourselves. I guess this is why. Our whole lives are funnelled toward sticking to the few things we’re good at. And we become more sheltered and a bit more afraid of the things that are hard. And I am afraid of things that are hard.
What I have realised is that I am completely out of practice at being shit at something. It’s not like I expect to be good without hard work, practice or giving it a few tries, but being shit at something has begun to feel unnatural and horrible.
So, I embraced that this was going to be hard and I gave myself full permission to be crap.
And mate, I was terrible. But terrible in the best way. And by pushing myself out of my comfort zone I learned so much.
Surfing taught me that my shoulder injury (13 months of pain) is now healed, it felt amazing after surfing (although weak and trembly after about 40mins in the sea) and it’s time to get my strength back.
Surfing reminded to look after myself. I know that my hip flexors are extremely tight and I must continue addressing that through yoga and pilates and stretching. You can’t surf with tight hips my friends!
Surfing taught me how to switch my brain off. I struggle to turn my mind off, I am always thinking a hundred things all at once. I want to stop but my brain keeps going. You know those memes about women’s brains being like Google Chrome with too many tabs open? That is real in both senses for me. Surfing allowed me to think about nothing but surfing. I don’t remember the last time I had a mental holiday like that.
Surfing taught me that I am 33 and that it’s not too late to try new things. What other new things can I try, what other changes could I make in my life? It’s ridiculous that somewhere in my mind I had stopped believing that I could do things, become too afraid of being shit at new things to want to even try. But surfing reminded me that there is so much life ahead of me, and I can do whatever I want, as long as I am ok at potentially being shit at it!
Surfing taught me that it’s totally ok to be shit at something. There is more value in knowing you did your personal best, than being effortlessly amazing at something.
So I was terrible, but the day was amazing. There were six of us all ready to give it a bash and I don’t think any of us stopped smiling the whole lesson. I felt safe and looked after, the two male instructors from Murawai Surf School were kind, compassionate, supportive and understanding. And even when I bailed after 45 minutes because I was tired and my shoulder was having a bit of a wobble, sitting on the beach exhausted with my board, watching the others was awesome.
If you’re game to try something new, and are based in/around Auckland, then go check out Adventure Girls and their next events, I promise you will not regret it.