06 Nov Getting Back on the Surfboard.
I’m finally getting back on my surfboard and trying to get over my fears.
Some of you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? What happened and why is this chick so scared?”
Trust me, I have asked myself this question a million times. I want to give you an insight on how I became terrified of the sport that I had loved, and how I recently learnt to love it again after the obstacles I had to face.
About 7 years ago, I was living in the Gold Coast and I LOVED to surf (even though I was terrible). My friends and I would try to get out for a paddle every couple of weeks whenever we had time. I finally progressed to green waves and eventually became confident to paddle out by myself. On one particular day, I was having a ripper session (that’s what I keep telling myself) and I was totally in the ‘zone’ when something unexpected happened.
I attempted to catch a wave and a more experienced surfer thought I wasn’t going to get it, so he dropped in on me. Boards went everywhere! My surfboard smashed into my forehead and I honestly don’t remember how I got to the shore. Once I got to the beach, I looked down to assess the damage. My light pink wetsuit was now covered in blood and my head was throbbing in an extreme way.
I had to go to the hospital. l spent several hours there while they diagnosed what had to be done, and then someone eventually stitched my head up. I spent the next couple of days in bed and sort of lost all sense of time. My head was bruised and battered, but the biggest damage was done to my ego and surf confidence. I hung up the wetsuit I had been wearing on that day and never wore it again.
The weirdest thing was that I’d previously had far worst injuries. I had suffered from broken arms, torn both knee ligaments, and had experienced numerous lacerations from playing Ice Hockey. However, none of these injuries ever stopped me getting back on the ice. I don’t know why this surfing incident affected me so profoundly, and I am still coming to terms with it.
When we moved to the South Coast with our children, there was obviously no Ice Hockey (as we were now living near the beach). I became determined to surf again, but there was no way I was surfing by myself, especially since my husband had already improved so much and I was intimidated to go out into the back waves with him.
I was lucky to finally meet some amazing friends who wanted to surf as well! Some had never surfed but had always wanted to, and some had surfed a couple of times but never did it regularly. At a BBQ one night (after a few glasses of wine), we decided to form a surf group. I was ecstatic! The day had finally come and my surfer girl dream was beginning again…even if it was 20 years later!
Eventually, the big day rolled around for our first group session and I was super excited! I couldn’t wait to get back on the board… that was until we were driving to the beach. My palms began to sweat, the nausea and fear had returned, and I was reluctant to even turn up. We had a set a time and everyone was on a buzz while I was a bunch of nerves. My husband knew I was nervous but he kept reassuring me that I could do it again and that it would be different this time, I could learn at my own pace and I didn’t have anything to prove. Who was he kidding? Of course I had something to prove! I wanted to get back out there, and I needed to show myself I could do it again (hopefully this time without a dent to my forehead).
After suiting up, I sucked up my nerves and just ran in. Wow! I still remember the cold, salty water hitting my face and it felt amazing. After several attempts, I finally got to my feet again and caught a bunch of whitewash into the shore! The excitement had returned and so did the laughter. All of the girls were catching little broken waves everywhere. The amount of laughter and squealing going on would make most people think that we were back in high school. We came out of the surf with giant smiles and our energy seemed contagious. I don’t think I stopped talking about it all week.
From that day on, I knew I was hooked again and an element of my happiness had returned. I realised it was time to commit to my love of surfing and get over my fears. For the next couple of months, the ‘surfer girls’ all committed to meeting each Sunday morning. Our kids got to catch up and have a play on the beach, while our very patient husbands sat watching the grommets and our action going on in the surf. I’m sure they were laughing every now again at our epic wipeouts. Slowly but surely we eased our way “out the back”, and each week our confidence has grown. As much as I love surfing again and slowly getting back out there, the friendships I have developed are equally, if not more important. We share our stories and laugh until we cry. I can’t wait to introduce you to them!
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”. -Muhammad Ali