With constant stories splashed across the screens of our phones through social media, it’s easy to become self-conscious about how certain things are “supposed” to look. Most views of surfing on social media are images bathed in that perfect light from golden hour, airbrushed waves, a picturesque landscape — but that’s not always reality.
If you don’t see yourself fitting into the pictures we’ve all become so used to seeing, don’t worry, there are steps you can take to make positive changes while also accepting that not everything is going to be beautiful and social-media-ready all the time. Whether it’s the landscape, the journey to the beach, or your physical fitness, there are many ways to take pride in all aspects of the sport that you love so much and strive to be better.
Getting Involved with Your Local Government
Part of the beauty of surfing is the environment you’re in. You have crystal blue waves and sunny beaches, so why not be an advocate to keep things beautiful? Getting involved with your favorite beach’s maintenance program is one way you can help.
Of course, volunteering with your local community programs is a great place to start. Although, if keeping your beaches clean and enjoyable for the public is something you’re passionate about, there are online programs at certain universities that allow you to pursue this as an actual career. This might be one way to tie in your passion for surfing with a fulfilling career in government affairs.
With innovative ideas from surfers who know the ins and outs of their most visited beaches, you’ll be able to give a unique perspective on what works and what doesn’t. Depending on where you’re located, some governments have created positions known as Chief Innovation Officers. These people drive innovation from within and who knows more about the local beaches than an avid surfer?
Handling Injuries as a Surfer — and Protecting Others
Roadway defects and/or damage in state park roads, beachfront stairways, steps, and parking lots are considered government property. If you injure yourself on any of these, it has to be reported within a six-month time span. Not only is it the responsibility of your local government to keep these areas safe, but it helps to give them a heads up if there’s a particular problem they might not have noticed yet.
As a surfer, you’re a frequent visitor to the beach and probably no stranger to injuries, as minor as they may be. Next time you’re there, take a look at the roadways. More than likely they fall under the jurisdiction of government property and will need to be maintained as such. This could include anything from faulty stoplights to potholes or uncovered ditches.
All of these create a potentially hazardous situation that cause injuries to beachgoers. If you do become injured, you should report the injury to the proper authorities. From there you’ll be able to figure out the liability factor and what your next steps need to be. If you’re enjoying vacation and trying out new beaches when you get hurt, you might not know who to report the injury to. Look around for a lifeguard or beach patrolman. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
Surfing is an adrenaline rush and not for the faint of heart, and it definitely isn’t for the easily discouraged. While you may have visions of yourself popping up on the surfboard and catching the first wave that comes your way, we hate to be the bearer of bad news. Learning to surf takes time, dedication, and, more than anything else, practice.
It’s easy to get caught up in the cookie-cutter mold of what you see as the “perfect” surfer, but that’s not necessarily reality. Those perfectly curated photos you see online aren’t the reality you’ll be faced with as you get a handle on the sport. It might look like they’re standing there effortlessly, but trust us, it’s not that easy. You’ll use muscles you’ve practically forgotten about as you spend the majority of your time wiping out when you first start — and that’s okay! Everyone was in that same position when they started out. Surfing doesn’t always have to look like a Kelly Slater video. Anyone can learn how to surf if they put their mind to it, but practice is key.
One of the things you can control on your journey to learning how to surf, however, is how physically fit you are. It’s easy for the responsibilities of everyday life to get in the way of your physical fitness goals, but if surfing is something you want to pursue, being in great shape is important. Too often we become obsessed with the number on the scale, when in reality, the purpose of exercise is to become healthier. Just like surfing is about the journey and not the destination, so is your health. Next time you’re hitting the trails for a run or stretching your muscles in yoga, remember to enjoy the moment and soak it all in.