Embrace the camel toe, and 7 other life lessons from surfing

By Kate Taggart

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to learn how to surf. As a teenager I always dreamed that I would meet a tanned surfer dude with salty blonde locks much like Patrick Swayze in Point Break (only younger and slightly less criminal) and he’d teach me how to surf during a wild summer romance by the sea *sigh*

Having long since forgotten about my imaginary teen surfer crush, I recently came across a list of ‘25 Things to Do Before I Turn 25′ that I had written just before my 21st birthday. It was like unearthing a tiny time capsule containing the voice of a younger more carefree me, not yet burdened by concerns of career, money, family or the unwanted effects of gravity.

Whilst there were some rather cringe worthy items on the list that only my 20 year old self would covet (like owning a pair of Manolo Blahniks) I was surprised and slightly disheartened to see that there were a number of things on my list that I have always wanted to do but 10 years on, still haven’t.

Feeling inspired by the motivational quotes calendar my mum gave me for Christmas, I felt it was high time I carpe diem-ed the shizz out of that list before another 10 years passed me by.

A quick Google search and a few mouse clicks later and I was signed up for my first surf lesson – eep!

surfings-the-source

A few days later, I arrived at the surf shop in North Bondi early on a muggy Saturday morning, sweaty and out breath after getting off the bus at Bondi and having to sprint the full length of the esplanade because I was (as usual) running late.

After filling out the obligatory form disclaiming all legal liability for any injuries sustained (wait, what?) it was time to suit up.

Walking out of the surf shop change room in my wettie (that’s surfer talk for wetsuit) I felt psyched about riding some killer sets and was totally rocking this gnarly surfer chick vibe. It was then that I caught sight of myself in the shop’s full length mirror.

seal Oh. Dear. Lord.

What had once, I presume, been a black wetsuit was now a faded 50 shades of grey (and there was nothing sexy about this version).

It encased me like a flimsy sausage skin and left absolutely nothing to the imagination. I looked like what can only be described as a two legged elephant seal with an epic camel toe. Reality was not quite living up to my teenage surfer fantasy.

Putting my vanity aside, it was time to hang ten. I slapped on the pink zinc (because let’s face it, there was no way I could look any worse) and for the next 2 hours, I worked my wobbly elephant seal ass off in that water.

Here’s what I learnt from the experience: 

1. Some things are harder than they look but nothing worth having ever comes easy

Kudos to the Stephanie Gilmores of this world who make wetsuits look sexy and surfing look effortless. Neither of which is an easy feat. The lesson was far more physically demanding than I imagined but the thrill of standing up on the board for the first time made it well worth the effort. It’s all about perseverance.

2. Don’t be afraid to fall

Don’t let the fear of falling or failing hold you back, from anything. Enjoy the ride and learn from your mistakes.

3. Preparation is key

If you want to avoid hobbling around like an 80 year old woman in the days following your lesson then it’s really important to stretch. The twisting movement you use to get up to a standing position was a real challenge for my hip flexors (one that I was still feeling for days later). Treat it like you would any other strenuous physical activity.

4. Be realistic about your expectations and don’t be too hard on yourself

Start small at first. My only goal for the lesson was to stand up at least once on the board. To my surprise and delight, I was able to stand up not long after we were out in the water. Sure, I fell down a lot too, but it’s all about trial and error and enjoying the challenge that comes with mastering something new. By the end of the lesson I had ridden 4 or so waves right into the beach and it was fantastic!

5. Don’t be afraid to look foolish

Stop worrying so much about what other people will think. Check your vanity at the door, accept your inner elephant seal and embrace the camel toe. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

6. Be prepared for leakage

Sinus leakage that is. There will be snot and plenty of it when you’re out in the water. If you’re gifted like me, your nose may also sporadically pour salt water like a tap for the rest of the afternoon: on a table, on your phone, on someone else’s phone. Blame it on the rain.

7. Take a chance and try something new

Whether it’s written on paper or just up in our heads, we all have a list of things we’d like to see, do or try. It’s all too easy to let life or fear stand in the way of those things. Be curious and open to new experiences and trying new things. Be willing to be a beginner and to learn something new.

8. If at first you don’t succeed…

You will fall down, but that’s all part of the fun. Do as Taylor Swift would, “shake it off” and try again.

It was the first and I sincerely hope not the last time surfing for me.If you’re looking for a fun physical challenge then I highly recommend giving surfing a try.

To find out more about the surf lessons at Bondi click here. Catch you on the flip side dudes!

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