Surfing always fascinated me. Although I don’t remember the first time I heard about it, I do remember the first time I tried surfing. I was 13 years old and an exchange student in Geralton, Western Australia. Every wednesday morning we went down to the beach to go surfing for two hours. They showed me what to do, I practised the movements at the beach and then they throw me (more or less) in the water. I remember that I got really frustrated at some point, because I was missing contructive feedback and emotional support, since I was very insecure at that time.
Even though I didn’t have the best start, surfing appealed to me ever since. The immense power of the waves pushing those surfer chicks and dudes, the tricks and quick turns they made, they power and strong will they seemed to have… I have always been watching surf videos on Instagram and YouTube, admiring their coolness and positivity.
Right now I live in Valencia, and when I heard that there are waves I couldn’t belive it! What a great posibility, being able to practise on a weekly basis and moreover getting to know the people at the spot. The desire to surf suddenly was soon to be fulfilled. And I realized, that when you have a surf instructor that cares about you, you can learn more than just surfing.
First of all, it is immensly important to have confidence in your own abilities. Due to the lack of a good instructor I couldn’t really build that confidence that would have been necessary. I always felt lost and really didn’t know what to do or where to go and when to stand up. Maybe that became firmly established in my brain, because when I first started surfing again after several years, I was a little afraid of the swell and being run over by the waves. And this is the point, where a good surf instructor plays a very important role. He is right next to you in the water, tells you where to go and when to take off. I wouldn’t say that I surfed during the first couple of hours, but I got a feeling for the water and the waves. There is nothing bad about falling of the board face forward into the water! And the moment of catching the first wave is incredible. Suddenly all the effort I put into getting my body washed over and over again was worth it! And I started to realize – if I want to do something and put a reazonable amount of effort into it, sooner or later I will get something out of it.
The next important aspect is the balance. Even though I managed to get up on my feet from time to time, in most of the cases I feel right into the water. Which is normal I guess. Learning is a process and it takes lots of time and patience. But when my instructor explained me the importance of where I focus my view, I realized once more that surfing can teach life lessons. To keep the balance, you have look up. Surfers say: “You will move in the direction you are looking.” Meaning that keeping the focus on the problem, in this case the board, is not always the solution. Sometimes freeing the glance from the problem and trying to create distance helps a lot. Once I managed to look at the horizon and where I want to go, I was able to maintain the balance better than before.
For me the most important thing was learning to be determined. I had to learn to be conscious about my surroundings and my actions. If you are in the waves and looking at other surfers, thinking about lunch and hoping to get a tan, you won’t get any better. When I caught a wave in the beginning, I was lots of the time really suprised about the thrust the board suddenly experienced. Even though I knew the wave was coming. But I didn’t really think about each step. Once my surf instructor started yelling things like “PADDLE NOW!”, “Faster!”, “Jump up!”, I realized that it really helped a lot to just DO IT. When he was not around, I imitated him in my head, trying to be really conscious about every move I made. The conclusion I drew is, that when you are determined about the things you are doing, you will be able to notice a much quicker process. Living in the moment and apreciating the surroundings right here and right now is the best thing surfing has taught me.
To come to an end, I can say that I learned more about patience and accaptence while surfing, than any school could have taught me. I had to accept, that I will end up in the water over and over again. Yes, the waves are big and have a lot of power. Yes, you have to paddle all the time. Yes, it is exhausting. But all those things are not bad at all. They make you feel alive, happy about having such an amazing body to do such cool things. Surfing is about more than just catching waves. It made me more conscious about my body and my environment and it helped me thinking differently about problems. The most important thing I learned is that everybody can do it.
At this point I really want to thank SupLife Valencia. Thank you for your amazing surf instructors, but also the oportunity for me to reflect about what I experienced with you in the water.