Eight years ago, I paddled out into the turquoise ankle-nipper waves of Waikiki and I panicked. My my saliva turned bitter and my chest tightened. I wanted to be ready, but I wasn’t. I was terrified. I was not going to have fun that day. I turned around and paddled back in.
It was such a bummer. I wanted to be that girl. You know the one. She carries herself with ease, sports hair bleached by the sun in a way that no salon can match, and actually has something to say whenever the conversation (inevitably) turns to surfing. But, it turned out, I was a long ways from all that.
Since then, I’ve done a lot. I’ve taken swimming lessons at the Y. I’ve become a paddler (though I’m still quick to qualify that I’m “only” a fair weather paddler). I discovered that I could ride a bike through Ireland and not only not die, but I could have fun doing it. I have, very very slowly, learned to trust my body. I’ll never feel invincible, but I’ve become more capable than I once was. I’m not just more open to trying new things, but more importantly, I’m confident in my ability to learn.
This morning, I paddled out again. I didn’t quite stand up, but I had fun. Unqualified fun. And I’ll go out again.
I’m still not that girl, but I know that, eventually, I can be if I want to.