Embracing the Learning Process
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started paying attention to the liters of my board, instead of just the dimensions. For non-surfers, the dimensions are length, width, and thickness, the liters translate to the volume of the board.
Volume influences buoyancy—how easily you can paddle the board, duck-dive the board, and catch waves—and although it’s dependent on the dimensions, they are not a perfect match.
For example, one of my boards is 25.9 liters but it is 5’9” long. Another one of my boards is 26.9 liters but it’s only 5’7” long. The shorter board is wider and thicker to add the extra volume, while the longer board is narrower and thinner. Both boards are super fun to ride, but in different ways. Both boards get me into waves, but the type, conditions, and size of the waves will influence which board I choose on any given day.
Making the Wrong Choices
Some days I choose wrong. I think I’ll need the bigger, wider board for small waves, but the forecast turns out to be inaccurate. I paddle out with a board that doesn’t quite fit the waves. It’s not the end of the world, but it makes a difference in how I feel and how the session goes. Surfers are familiar with that wrong choice.
Sometimes we pick a longboard when a shortboard would have worked just fine. Sometimes we use a quad (4-fin) setup when a thruster (3-fin) setup is more suited to the waves. Then there’s the materials the board is made of (epoxy, polyurethane, some fancy new epoxy, whatever), the type of glass job, and shaper.
You can have 2 boards that are theoretically identical but feel and ride differently depending on these factors.
Doing Your Own Research
Two of the most common questions in the lineup are, “What’s the dimensions?” and “What’s the liters?” Surfers love to ask each other what they are riding and find out more about how different shapes perform. As with surf forecasting, we’re always on the hunt for the magic combo where everything comes together.
The thing about all these surfboard options is it’s easy to get too wrapped up in them. When you’ve got too many boards and so many options and plenty of opinions (online and in-person) figuring out what fits you can get overwhelming. That’s when you have to find out, in your gut, what fits you.
Trying to Fit, Instead of Finding Out What Fits
Growing up I always had lots of different ideas about how I should fit. How I should look, what size clothing I should wear. What my skin should look like… my life. As I got older I had even more ideas about how I should fit into life: how much money I should have in the bank, how much work I should do, how many friends I should have, how much I should eat, what I should think, do, be. I looked around at the world and searched and searched for where I could fit, where I could make sense of myself in the world.
The search is not inherently problematic. Finding out what fits us helps us keep growing. Outgrowing things is a major part of becoming ourselves. Outgrowing habits, people, thoughts, behaviors, choices…that all helps us become more of who we truly are.
What’s problematic is when we focus so much on how we fit into life, instead of finding out how life fits us. When we wander around thinking we have to fit into these ideal molds of life, this certain clothing size or this specific friend group we lose track of the most important piece in the equation—ourselves.
It has Never Been Your Fault
Another thing surfers know is that your surfing won’t improve if you’re always on the wrong board. Most commonly this happens when beginning surfers size down too quickly. They jump from an 8’0 down to a 5’6” and wonder how come surfing is so much harder. It’s not fun anymore—why can’t I catch waves, what happened?
I should be able on a smaller board already.
When we focus on the external fit, the fit of the world that we think we should be in, we compromise our ability to grow. We stay stuck in what we think is right, what we think should fit, and get so caught up trying to make something work that never will.
Now when I go clothes shopping, I wear whichever size feels good, even if it’s a size I used to think wasn’t “right”. And guess what? I walk around the world feeling comfortable. I get to do life more fully because I’m not all preoccupied with the too-tight jeans I stuck myself into believing there was something wrong with me if I didn’t fit into them.
Now, i walk through life and my business looking at who and what fits me, not who and what I should fit. Because someone else’s perfect board is perfect because it’s theirs.
Have you ever bought or borrowed a board, hopped right onto it, and just felt good? No squirming around, trying to find the balance point. Popping up like you’ve been riding it for years—confident and comfortable? When you paddle out a surfboard that’s not right for you, it’s easy and obvious: this board doesn’t match my skill level, my paddling, my size and shape and surfing style. But when we step into life and things don’t fit, somehow, we always make it our fault.
There must be something wrong with me that I don’t like the “hustle” culture. There must be something wrong with me that I feel out-of-place, that I don’t like the same things as other people; there must be something wrong with me that this doesn’t fit. I must be doing something wrong.
Finding Your Fit Takes Looking Inward, Not Outward
But what if there’s nothing wrong with you, and there’s nothing wrong with the thing you wish you fit? The identity, the persona, the surfboard, the jeans? What if that thing just is, and you just are, and instead of spending all your energy trying to fit into that thing, you stepped out of it, opened up your mind, and kept up the search?
We could spend our whole life missing waves because we are fighting to ride a surfboard that doesn’t fit us, or we could spend our whole life catching waves because we embraced what was, and has been, waiting for us to find it all along.
Go and Ride Your Wave
I’ve spent plenty of time missing out on the waves and stoke of life because I was so preoccupied with fitting into something that was never mine to begin with.
Now, I find out what fits me, instead of forcing myself into these tiny boxes just because I thought that was what I was supposed to do.
And the coolest part is that now I realize I always fit into life, all along.
I just had to start trusting in myself enough to live it.