Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway - Overcome Setbacks
All of us are familiar with the emotion of fear. There are a magnitude of ways that one can feel it and the one that has inspired this post is my own personal fear of water.
Athletics has always been in my comfort zone and I am normally not terrible when I pick up a sport as my hand eye coordination has been pretty well trained since I was a kid. There is one sport though which I have been faced with which is so completely challenging and I have never had such a hard time picking up any other sport.
This is the sport of swimming and anything including me getting in the water which unfortunately includes surfing.
Before the age of 7 I can count 3 distinct memories of me almost drowning. One of the experiences was while on a family vacation in Florida. I was playing at the shoreline splashing around when a wave suddenly washed over my head.
It sent me on my back flailing about as I tried to understand what just hit me. There was a prompt hand (likely my mom) that pushed me back up to a seated position safe from any harm but the real harm had been recorded in my memory as a trauma.
For the years to follow I would struggle with swimming lessons and never really enjoy the water as all of my friends did. I would simply dip in and dip out, unless I had a floating toy which would entice me to stay in a bit longer. I had developed a fear of water. I realized the water was unpredictable, I could not control it and it was more powerful then myself.
Surfing Makes Me Seasick
Nonetheless life continued on and I got through without being reminded to often about my fear of water. My life in my mid twenties grew to revolve around snowboarding and thus my love of board sports.
I started to get enticed by the sport of surfing and thought it must be the perfect compliment to the snowboard culture. I made my way to the Canadian coast to give it a go while visiting a friend who swore that surfing was her new favorite activity. I got suited up, paddled out and proceeded to catch a wave.
What I remember most about this first attempt was sitting in the water waiting for a wave and then starting to feel absolutely nauseous. I had already known I got carsick and seasick but was I really getting seasick on my surfboard? Yes Indeed, it was real. I crawled out of the ocean gagging and sat on the beach to collect myself. "This is crazy!" I thought, "how can this be making me feel sick?"
Never Give Up - Keep Trying
A couple of years later I decided to embark on a trip to Ecuador where I would practice yoga and give surfing another go. I figured I would keep trying to get in the water and just go in at short intervals so that I could get out and ground my body before it felt to nauseous.
This proved to work for me and I was able to stand up on my board for the first time. This victory was only in the white wash however, and I wanted to ride a wave the way I had seen so many doing.
Riding a wave looked to be similar to the way a snowboarder looked while cutting through some deep pow - absolutely majestic. I tried only a few more time in to catch a green wave in Ecuador only to discover how despite my determination, this sport was the hardest one I have ever tried. Have you ever tried surfing? Did you find it as daunting as I did?
The worst part for myself was how the waves would just keep coming and I couldn't get out past the break. It felt horrendous when the waves would wash over my head bringing back the memory of Florida and the first time I almost drowned.
If I did manage to get out past the break I would be sitting out there wondering what to do next, if a huge wave came I would panic and get so completely anxious. I started to notice that when I started to feel anxious and get fearful that my sea sickness would start to take over. This allowed me to make a huge connection with my sea sickness and my fear of safety and need for control.
I realized that if I could say the mantra "I am safe" while out in the water and breathe deep and trust the words I was chanting my sickness would subside for the time being. I not only started to be able to stay in the water longer but also to unlock a huge part of my psyche and healing as a human. How magical!
Seduced by Surfing
Years later on my travels through Australia I really got to experience the culture of surfing. I was living with a group of friends who all surfed and planned their days around the swell. It was my glimpse into the inner workings of the surf culture and I was able to understand more about it.
Although I was still struggling with my sea sickness and ultra fear of getting dumped under a wave I was absorbing as much information as I could about the sport by listening and watching.
I would take my board to a nearby lake to practice my paddling skills as I learned that this was crucial to being a good surfer. I vowed to take my time and commend myself on any effort put into the sport as I knew inside that I was challenging the trauma created for me as a toddler.
I also realized that part of my problem was that I had rushed into the sport without ever really being around it or understanding anything about the ocean. After all, where I grew up, it was hours from any coastline or anyone who was into surfing.
Success and Overcoming the Setbacks
It has been the most slow learning curve I have ever experienced so far but also the most rewarding. It feels so good to be able to say that I can be in the water for about 40-60 minutes before my sea sickness starts and I am finally getting so close to the point of riding a wave like I see the others do which inspires me so much.
Every time I get in the water I may have the slightest learning to someone on the outside, but to me and within my own being it is huge! The more I practice the more I learn and it not only applies to surfing but to life as well.
I feel the fear every time I get into the ocean but I have figured out my own recipe for a successful time in the water. I only go in where I feel I am going to be safe and the waves aren't totally out of my skill set.
Instead of pushing myself to a huge challenge I take small steps. The truth of how powerful the ocean is, has set me up to realize how very small I am on this planet and how I must submit to it's power.
I have so much fun in the water and I find it so frustrating that I usually get out because I feel like I am going to puke. This frustration is not going to stop me though. I want to keep trying and working on my progression.
The way that surfing it teaching me to overcome the setbacks that seem to be laid out in front of us sometimes is a lesson I am very thankful for.
Have you had an experience where you have felt the fear but done it anyways? Please let me know by commenting below!
Thanks for reading! ♡
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