I made a decision a month ago. I will learn to surf. Period.
I’m not shooting for the stars, I don’t want to be Steph Gilmore getting tubed or even attempt to ride a cute little short board. My goal is to take my mini-mal out and look semi-confident in what I’m doing – mainly avoid tripping over my leg rope, doing banana splits or surfacing like a drowned rat after going over the falls. (All which have happened in the last month).
Plus my bigger goal is to go on a surfing holiday in the next year and buy a new surfboard.
And I’ve got to tell you guys, I’m falling head over heals for the sport. It’s hard to describe the thrill of paddling onto a wave and feeling steady on your feet as you cruise along. The sunrises and the sunsets on the water, the warm Autumn weather, the ease of grabbing your board and heading out without a moments notice.
(Not me!) My friend Kat sliding along the waves – talk about inspiration.
But learning has been tough! Stuttering and frustrating. It’s been a test of determination to stick at it and ‘just keep going out’ as a friend of mine recently said. Don’t think about it – just keep going out and you’ll get better.
So it got me thinking, why is learning a new skill so hard as an adult? What about it feels so foreign? I have a few theories.
- The older we get, the more we easily identify our skills and strengths. I mean hell, we went through those turbulent adolescent years for a reason and now we know what we’re good at. It’s not easy to go back to being terrible at something. We get caught in a comfortable routine and are often afraid to branch out.
- It can be embarrassing. Adults are meant to be better at things than kids right? Tell that to the 7-year old whippersnapper snagging wave after wave next to me.
- We lose our child-like enthusiasm for things. This is a big one! As a kid you don’t think about how much you have to do in the day, if it’s uncomfortable pulling on a wet wetsuit or if you’re too tired to head out before school. All you care about is how much fun you’re going to have out there.
Is any of this ringing bells? Have you said recently I can’t surf, run, draw, ride… and left it at that?
A new skill is something you can keep with you for life. And it’s taken a few close friends and family to make me realize it’s never too late to learn. My sister, who’s on her own learn-to-surf conquest, a friend who has learned the guitar in only months, and my (fully grown) mate and his desire to skateboard – getting to the skate bowl early before the pros arrive to practice in a helmet and knee pads.
Who says you can’t be a beginner as an adult? Work-Shop is a creative space in Sydney that runs short courses dedicated to ‘unleashing your inner awesome’. From hula hooping to tattoo art to ukulele for newbies; there’s something to interest even the most hesitant of learners.
So, I challenge you to try something new this year. Embarrass yourself. In 20 years time your older self might just thank you for giving it a crack.