Growing up in Rio de Janeiro I was always mesmerized by the lines of the ocean – its majestic presence, remarkable force and quiet stillness. I could stand there and watch the tides roll in and out all day, or stay in the ocean until my fingers pruned so much that they mimicked the water’s ripples.
My affair with the ocean abruptly stopped when my family relocated to Connecticut (similar worlds, I know…). Feeling like an outsider and not knowing a word of English, I threw myself into sports. The only two that stuck were longboarding and snowboarding.
When I moved back to Rio a few years later I wanted to marry my love for riding with my love for the water. I began paying attention to surfers and was blown away by their ability to let Iemanjá (our goddess of the sea) create their speed, determine their flow, and be one with the wave. It was beautiful to watch their connection with Mother Nature. I craved the same experience and started taking lessons.
Everything in my life has been impacted by surfing. I traded my overly expensive Brooklyn apartment for a spot with an ocean view in the Rockaways. I stopped partying so I could wake up at 4:30 a.m. to do a dawn patrol session instead. I lost friends because I rescheduled every time there were waves. I took rainchecks on date nights with my boyfriend when a swell came in (I’m lucky he’s understanding).
But surfing gave me so much in return. I’m part of an incredible community of people who share the same crazy habits that I have. I travel and explore places I would never go to otherwise. Its lessons are endless – staying humble, respecting Mother Nature, overcoming fears, and staying patient. Surfing slowly became my escape, my meditation and my therapy. The more time I put into it, the more I find my happiness and myself.
Surfing is a pretty high barrier-to-entry sport. Yes, you can take lesson; (usually) get up on the first day, get excited and buy a “good” board. But after wiping out and getting kicked in the ass by the waves, it takes a lot to stick with it. Surfers who keep at it and grow from their experience, ultimately learn to have a good time while doing so, are a huge inspiration to me. I guess that’s every surfer then, huh?
Beyond that ambiguity… when I started surfing I was all about hardcore surfers like Carissa Moore, Steph Gilmore, John John Florence, and Craig Anderson. They slay waves like it’s no big deal. I was in awe of them at first. Then I discovered surfers whose personality fully influences their surfing – those who show how surfing is more than just the act of riding the waves. It’s really about connecting with nature and friends. Most of the female riders from the Seea team, such as Leah Dawson and Lola Mignot, display that perfectly and serve as a huge inspiration to me.
When I started surfing, I was constantly in my head and analyzing myself against others in the line-up. It was a hurdle for me to learn to control my negative thoughts, relax, and not feel the need to prove myself in the water (I was a pretty aggressive feminist surfer). Then I began to surround myself with people who joked in the water, who had the widest grin on their faces after catching the tiniest wave, and cheered others on. That’s when everything shifted.
I learned to relax, to see challenges as opportunities, to just “be” in the moment. It’s such a calming experience when you get to that place as a surfer. When you’re finally able to come to the realization that you’re not only there to surf, but also to experience Mother Nature – to be one with her as much as you possibly can and to have fun while doing so. You might find that all pretty cheesy, but hey, you probably haven’t tried it then…
The more time I put into it, the more I find my happiness and myself.