From the moment my obsession with surfing began, maybe around 8 or 9 years old, I always day-dreamed about becoming a professional surfer. Throughout my early teenage years I surfed in competitions and I even managed to receive support from a few amazing sponsors. And as a kid that grew up in a wave-starved stretch of coast in South Carolina, I felt like I was doing a damn good job. Like I was well on my way.
Well, that was until I began competing in National and International Events... Stepping into the arena of these highly respected events, I found myself surfing against the girls that I idolized from Hawaii, California, and even Australia. And that's when I believe, around 15 or 16 years old, that the harsh truth of reality slapped me across the face and I realized that I was probably... most likely... absolutely never going to be a Pro. Those girls kicked my ass and they all surfed light-years beyond my ability. It was humbling, but also very defeating. My parents always told me I could do anything I put my mind to, but a professional surfer?? It just wasn't in the cards for me. And with total love and support, my parents agreed as well.
It was a tough pill to swallow, the thought of never living out my day-dream, but I accepted the facts and continued on with life. I chose to go to college (thanks to my amazingly supportive parents) and, of course, I picked a school that was close to the beach. I stopped surfing in competitions because of school work and working as a waitress and partying with my friends, but I never lost my obsession with the waves and my passion for surfing. Because even if I couldn't be a "Pro," I knew I never wanted to lose that fire. I knew that no matter what, I wanted surfing to always be a major part of my life. Because even back then, even as a naive 19-year-old, I knew that I needed surfing... It's what always got me out of my head and tuned into the frequency of a more natural flow. It's the one thing that really made me feel alive, awake, and like I had a purpose.
Flash forward to today, as I sit here in my apartment in Puerto Rico where I live, close to five years now. Since those early college days I have found the practice of yoga and unlocked an element of spirituality in my being that provides space and sensations similar to surfing. If anything, my yoga practice enhances my surfing experience, both physically and spiritually, and I now get to share my passion and experience of yoga with others as a "teacher." This morning, I caught a few fun waves with friends, this evening I'll be teaching yoga at our local wellness center, and all weekend I'll be tending bar at my friend's establishment, a cute little joint right next to the beach. And as I type this, I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, because this is a relatively average day for me. I work hard, and I work multiple jobs, but they are all things I enjoy doing, and they also all provide me with enough flexibility in my schedule to get out in the water pretty much every single day. And although my life now doesn't look exactly the way I pictured it to look when I was 16, I've come to realize that I am still, in fact, actually living out my childhood day dream.
So I guess what I'm saying here is never give up on your day dreams. Never lose sight of the things you are, or were, passionate about, even if it was 20 years ago. Keep 'em always in your heart, but remind yourself not to get too attached to expectations or pretty pictures painted in your head. Do the work that needs to be done. Do the work you're capable of. But when the currents of life pull you in other directions, surrender gracefully. Trust the process and always remember: just because life doesn't look the way you thought it would when you were 16 doesn't mean that you have failed.