Since I was a little girl, I have marched to my own tune and felt in my gut that I was going to do something completely different. Part of this is due to being the youngest child and the only girl, but also my affinity for standing out. My friends have also always told me that I am unique and different. I used to take it negatively, but looking back, it was in preparation for the big decision that I made seven months ago.
Soon after starting my first full-time job after college, I started to think, “What is next?” I found myself lost in the American Dream that I never realized I was living; I grew up playing every sport possible, did well in school, got a scholarship to play college basketball, attended two great universities (in total fashion of doing something different I transferred schools), graduated with Honors, received a great job offer, and moved to New York City. I should have been satisfied, but I wanted more than what the American Dream said was next: a serious relationship, attending graduate school, marriage, buying a house, having and raising kids, and then retiring someplace warm. Don’t get me wrong, the American Dream is great, but it is not everyone’s dream.
A little more than a year after moving to NYC, I started to practice yoga…talk about doing something totally different than what I was used to. Being Ms. Jockette, I used to think yoga was for those weird, tree-hugger people. Well, I was hooked during my first class when my world literally was turned upside down thanks to my yoga teacher Colleen’s encouragement and instruction to stand on my head during my first class. My reaction was, “You want me to do what?! Is this really yoga?” The combination of physical and mental strength that was required for not only just this pose was mind-blowing to me. My new-found yoga practice started to help me dig deeper and listen to my heart. I had many sessions where I used to just start crying in down dog. Seriously, who was I turning into?!
Eight months after my first yoga class, finally deciding to work on my New Year’s resolution, I took my first surf lesson. My life was forever changed from the first wipeout. I was hooked; during the work week, all I could think about was when I was going to be able to ride the subway an hour to the beach, paddle out on a surfboard and wipeout over and over again. After a couple of surf lessons, on a whim, I booked a trip to Costa Rica so I really could perfect the art of wiping out not only just only a weekend, but seven days in a row. Welcome to the surfing mob: once you are hooked you never can get out.
After my surf trip to Costa Rica, I decided that a great exit plan out of my job would be to attend graduate school. The American Dream plan was still dictating my life. Being the total nerd that I am, I dove deep into studying intensely for the entrance test for Business School, the GMATs. But, I could not get surfing out of my mind. Three weeks after my Costa Rica trip, I booked another trip. Since it was the dead of winter and I did not have a thick enough wetsuit (yet), I studied away, but also trained for my next surf trip. I did a lot of yoga, ran and balance trained so that when I was ready to paddle out, I would be in reasonable shape to surf for 10 days straight. Three months later, I finally came up for air from studying and being cooped up inside from the frigid NYC winter and went back to Costa Rica to surf in order to decompress right before my test. Then the lightbulb went off…
The whole week during my trip, I kept having this feeling that Costa Rica was calling my name. For some reason, sitting on my surfboard felt where I needed to be. No, I promise I was not smoking something during this thought process. Rather, I met and started to have conversations with surf legend, Robert August, about his business. He needed help and I was ready to move on from my job. When I got back from my trip, I called my mom and told her that I was quitting my job and moving to Costa Rica to work for a surfer. She laughed. I told her that I was serious.
Well, here is where fear started to kick in…So now I have this really cool idea to quit my corporate, well paid job and move to the beach in Costa Rica. On paper, who wouldn’t want to do this? BUT who actually has the guts to do it? I thought about it a lot. The idea consumed me. I tried to suppress it and ignore it, but the more I kept trying to tell myself it was a crazy, impulsive idea, the more that I wanted to do it. Practicing yoga and paddling out for a surf session, my heart screamed at me to listen. BUT come on, not everyone just ups and leaves one life for another?!
I was afraid. I was afraid that if I did not do it, I would regret it. A phenomenal opportunity would pass me by because I was too chicken to rake a risk. I was afraid that if I did do it, my family would not support my decision and my “career” options in the future would be forever doomed.
The more I weighed the pluses and minuses, the more I started to wholly support my decision. But how was I going to convince my family and friends that I was not going insane? I found mix reviews to the people close to me that I told. Some hands down coached me to do it. Others, my parents being two of them, thought I had gone loca. I processed the both sides of advice that I was receiving. The majority of my inner circle told me to do it. BUT, it is so much easier to advise someone to do something drastic than actually do it yourself…
Then one of my surf friends gave me some of the best advice. She said, “If you keep saying I will do it when I save more money or when I finish xyz, you will continue making excuses and put it off. You just have to do it.”
My friend’s comment really resonated. I certainly did not want to look back on this phenomenal opportunity and say, “What if?” My whole 26 years of life up until that point, I had marched to my own tune and liked doing things differently. With all this thinking that I was doing, I realized that all the really cool and exciting things that I had done in my life, I always had the nervous butterflies and was fearful leading up to the action. But once I embarked upon whatever I was doing, I soon found myself completely alive and in my own zone. Bottom line, my feeling nervous and afraid was completely normal, and it signified that whatever I was going after was going to be an awesome life experience.
So I started making plans to change my life, which included when I was going to quit my job, moving my belongings out of NYC, and saving as much money as I could in the process (good luck doing that in one of the most expensive cities in the world). Once I set my mind to it, I came to peace that I was making the right decision. My fear subsided and became joy. I started to revel and take pride that I was doing something completely different. I felt alive again, like my child self that took chances and risks. The day I put in my two weeks notices I felt liberated.
Fast forward seven months and as I am typing this lengthy blog post, I can honestly say that I made the right decision. I often find myself lost in moments: watching breathtaking sunsets, laughing my butt off with genuine friends, dancing with beautiful waves, and bottom line just LIVING life. Am I still afraid? Hell yes. I am still afraid that this loca life change is not going to work out, that my parents will tell me “I told you so”, and that all my work and risk will be for nothing. But as I said before, that just means that I am experiencing life. I may not know where the next seven months, five years or even 30 years from now may take me, but I know that life is too precious to take for granted. Like Bruce Brown said in the surf film “The Endless Summer”, “If you are willing to take a leap of faith, get off your butt, who knows how many great things are waiting in the world out there?”
Ok, so what spurned this longer than normal post? The past couple of months I have met some amazing people that are following their own path. They continuously inspire me to be myself and follow my heart. One of these people is Srini and of course I met him during a surf session. As it turns out, we have some things in common besides surfing, such as blogging and living our lives “differently”. He mentioned to me that he did an podcast interview with Jaimal Yogis, the author of one of my favorite surf books, “Saltwater Buddha”, on fear. Their discussion helped me to reinforce that my fear was completely normal, and in fact empowering. In the interview, Jaimal eloquently noted,
“Accept the fact that you are going to be afraid. Fear is so natural and normal, it is what we feel when we are in the unknown. It has all these benefits; it gives us permission to feel and if we can open up to it, we can use the energy to make a change…We need these negative emotions sometimes to catalyze positive change…What you do have control over is how we react to fear and how we frame it..Fear actually helps you be more focused…Fear is what we do with it.”
To top it off, Srine then passed on Torre DeRoche’s book “Love With A Chance of Drowning“, which is about how Torre confronted her fear of the ocean, sailed across the Pacific Ocean, and fell in love in the process. Bottom line, I guess fear is not so bad after all…
AND of course my post would not be complete without sharing some of the photos from last week!
This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.
"Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow." Australian Associated Press
"… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams." Nomadicmatt.com
"In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction." Courier Mail