This little challenge relates to a goal I have about my surfing. I have a goal to be surfing in 5 foot waves by the end of winter this year (5 foot is a pretty decent sized wave - about the size in the photo above). Yesterday I had the opportunity to go out and surf something close to this size swell with one of my neighbours. There were quite a few people out and the waves were closing out pretty hard. I felt nervous as we showed up and I wasn’t sure I was going to get in or not, as the biggest I have surfed for quite a while is about 3 foot waves (a bit bigger than in the pic below - that's me surfing in the one below). I think I had half talked myself out of doing it before we even got there. I made the decision pretty soon after seeing it that I wasn’t going in and although it was a decision I was comfortable with, I felt pretty hollow about it afterwards.
I had a few reasons for not going I guess… I had sore shoulders from going to the gym the day before so I didn’t think I would make it out past the break anyway. But when I got back home and had a think about it, I knew there were other reasons why I didn't go. I was intimidated and a bit scared by the size of the waves and it was probably a bit above my skill level. In truth, I was also scared of making a fool of myself. I have a deep respect for the ocean and its power, and I don’t take unnecessary risks, but I don’t think I would have been in any real danger if I had have gone out. There were plenty of people there to perform a rescue if I had gotten into trouble.
The reason I felt a little hollow about it was that I didn’t give it a go. I gave up before I started. I failed before I had even tried. I was speaking to one of the young blokes from the beach about it and he said to me that the only way to conquer fear about big waves is to stare them in the face… that can be applied to pretty much any fear that we have. You really just have to have a crack. You can never discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore!
But, I also took one other thing out of it. Sometimes jumping right into the deep end is too big of a test for your comfort limits and will stop you having a go at all. It can be more effective to push them slowly until you develop confidence and build momentum. By biting off more than you can chew too soon, you can damage momentum and not enjoy the goal. It is a balance you have to find for your particular circumstance.
So, what am I going to do? I am still going to tread with caution for the sake of sensibility, but I am committed reaching this goal and pushing myself to face my fears. I am going to do the things that will help me gain confidence and overcome the things I am scared of. For example, I will practice my swimming to gain confidence on handling myself in those sort of conditions to overcome the fear of drowning… I will continue to practice my surfing and work on my fitness to ensure I am fit enough to handle those conditions. I will continue to push my comfort zones, even if it is not in big leaps, but in smaller steps.
Have you had the chance to push your comfort zones lately? Did you do it, or did you back out? Why?
Have a great week!