You're Not Learning Fast Enough

I want to tell you a quick little story.

About never giving up.  

My surfing journey has been borderline embarrassing.  Today, after almost 3 years, 7 surfing trips, and hours of instruction, I feel like it all clicked.  I feel like I can say with confidence, finally, “Yeah, I surf”. *sly smile* "No biggie."


As I said, it was a borderline embarrassing learning curve. In each surfing trip I went on, I consistently saw beginners quickly surpass my skill level.  Kids, seniors, couples on their honeymoon that would probably never again in their life surf – out there, high-fiving each other, surfing – standing-up-on-the- board–all- the-way-to-the-shore.  While I toppled head first, arms flailing wildly into the water again and again. 

There are 3 things I want to share with you that helped me to not give up.

Across the board these three thing help me achieve whatever I have my sights set on in life. This is my mental gymnastics routine.

1)   If someone doesn’t believe in you or have encouraging words for you, TELL THEM WHERE TO GO. Tell them swiftly, tell them bluntly and tell them respectfully. (Usually) Depending on who it is, maybe just tell them silently in your mind. Either way, when someone is trying to push you down – PUSH BACK.

In the very beginning of my surfing journey, a particular instructor, after working with me for about a week,  called me out of the ocean and over towards him. I ran over excitedly, expecting some sort of instruction that might be the magic - exactly what I needed to hear to become a pro. Nope. Instead he said to me, “You’re not learning fast enough Rachael, you’re not where you should be”. (!??!?)  I paused for a split second, gave him a look that probably burned a hole in  his skin and said quietly, slowly and purposefully, “I THINK I’M DOING A GREAT JOB. THANKS.” And then stalked off into the ocean to fall off my board for another hour or so.

Besides that, no one flat-out ever said anything discouraging to me but I could certainly feel the lack of belief! Understandably so – I sucked. For a long time. So I regularly mouthed off to anyone that looked at me with an expression that said, “Maybe surfing just isn’t your thing?”

2)   Be your own cheerleader.  When you fall, YOU be the one to tell yourself you’ve got this. When you fall again, YOU be the one to focus on your improvements (no matter how small they might be!). And when you inevitably fall again, YOU be the one to say, “No biggie, just do it again”.

It was easy being out in the ocean, where no one could hear me, to have little chats with myself.  I fell off my board easily 500 times – pep talks were regular. I didn’t lie to myself – I didn’t tell myself I was doing great, or that I’d gotten so much better if it wasn’t true -  I did recognize something I’d done correctly though.  Or, if I could find no teeny tiny little improvement, I’d repeat to myself, “you’ll get it.  Do it, Rache. Do it, again. Yes you can.  Do it.”

3)   Practice inevitability thinking. If you have a goal in mind, and you put one foot in front of the other, inching towards it, however quickly or slowly, you will inevitably get there. That seems kind of obvious. Keep going in the same direction towards the same destination and you must eventually get there. The only reason you wouldn’t is if you changed direction or changed your destination.

Inevitability thinking was a lifeline for me in my surfing journey. Giving up was not an option. (Even though I’m sure my instructors wanted me to give up! See point #1 – Tell them where to go) I wanted to surf. Period. There was no other option.

My surfing journey is by no means complete. I want to have a little green board and catch BIG waves - I’m quite a ways away from that! Still, it feels pretty great today, walking around knowing I’ve finally earned the right to call myself a surfer.