It all started in a moment of curiosity in a surfing program offered by my school. I followed one of my many mottos, and just did it. I have always been a free-wheeling person, but this was a new step for me, a step that I will forever remember as the start to the new me. One year later, the lessons I took from the camp have become apart of my lifestyle. On Christmas morning, I could feel the magic in the air as my sister and I ran down the stairs to find the thing I had been talking about for months. There it was: the big, blue and white beauty that was now mine; my first surfboard. I wanted the brisk cold winter air to leave now more than ever, knowing that I couldn’t surf in polar water temperatures.
The warm air finally came in early June, and I couldn’t wait much longer. Three days earlier, I had passed my drivers test and begged my parents to let me drive an hour down to Narragansett. When they finally agreed, I squeezed my 7-foot-5-inches baby into my car and took off.
I reached the beach land: the place I found where I belong. Here I meet gnarly people, create rad memories, and see other surfers throwing up shakas – a hand gesture used as a sign of approval or praise – left and right. I struggled to wedge myself into a brand new Rip Curl wetsuit, but I found peace through rubbing the wax onto my board. The wax would give me balance on my board in the water and outside the water through life itself.
This feeling of sitting on the beach with my own surfboard, wetsuit, and wax was really strange. I grew up watching movies like Soul Surfer and Blue Crush and I really looked up to the characters who were the cool surfer girls who had free spirits and motivation. I loved these characteristics and truly wanted to be them. The movies were filmed in Hawaii and other southern places, and I didn’t know at the time that there was surfing in Rhode Island. Yet as I sat on the beach, I realized that I had found a new side to me, and I had adopted the traits of the surfer characters I once looked up to. I was physically and mentally taking on traits of my previous idols I stared out at the water and noticed the pattern of the waves, which were bigger than I expected. Growing up sailing, swimming, and living by the water, I have always respected the ocean for its power. This sometimes put me into a place of caution, which can be both good and bad at times. When I get out into the water, I know that I can’t think about the size of the wave that I am paddling for, I have to think of how exhilarating it will be when I am on a big wave like this. Time and time again, I lose balance and fall into the water. My old habits kick in, and I occasionally get frustrated I know that I need to keep the good vibes flowing.
I see talented surfers passing me on the left and right and getting on the waves. I wanted my moment of standing up on the board because it was proof to myself that I could do it. I didn’t want the other surfers to think that I couldn’t do it because I knew that I could. As I continued to paddle, an older man came towards me. He said, “when you're paddling for the wave don’t look back at the wave. It will make you slant and lose balance.” I thanked him and returned to watching the waves. While eyeing the horizon, I spot the biggest wave that I have ever seen here in Narragansett while surfing. I lay flat on my board and start to paddle. I say the words, paddle, paddle, paddle, in my head. I use the advice from the man and didn’t look behind me. I felt the wave pulling me on, indicating that I needed to stop paddling and pop up, So I did.
In this amazing moment, I raised my hand, formed a shaka, and shook it all around showing peace, enthusiasm, and glee. I proved to myself that in order to succeed, I have to be patient, accept help, and work as hard as I can. Since this moment, I have taken these lessons and used them in my life for every task I need to complete.