What is surf?

It’s a mindset.

If you’ve ever surfed you understand. Surfing is difficult. It takes courage (sharks), determination (waves) and perseverance (standing up on waves). If you don’t surf, you’ve probably had to develop that same skill set in other areas of your life to succeed.

What is surf not?

It’s not a club. Not a members only lineup, or even a surf shop. It’s not really beach bums, palm trees, wetsuits, or even surfboards. That’s a look. A manufactured persona. 

It’s also not a judgement of your ability to ride big waves (Pipeline) vs small waves (most beaches), surf in the winter (San Francisco) or even at a surf park (Surf Ranch).

Yet, that’s what we’ve been served.

I don’t surf professionally and I don’t know anyone who does. Does that limit my ability to participate? No. I’m not aspiring to surf like Gabriel Medina.

And what if I want to surf in the river like Gerry Lopez? Awesome. Never done it but looks like a lot of fun.

What do I believe in if not in surfing as a way of life – in lingo – in hand signs – in top secret surf spots (that aren’t secret anymore)?

My whole life surf has been marketed in a very specific way. Young, male, white, tan, blonde, performance surfer, rides big waves. Girls can surf too but they are typically only photographed in bikinis (from behind).

But that’s not real surf. At best that’s marketing. At worst, it’s narrow-minded. Did you know there’s a large black surfer population too? I never did – until I met a black surfer

I’m not here to bash on anyone’s tunnel-vision marketing department. I get it, Sean Penn played Jeff Spicoli on Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the rest is history.

Take responsibility

You are 100% responsible for your own outcome in life. Just like surfing – if you only go once or twice a year and can’t get up on a wave – that’s your own fault. If you want to get up on a wave you have to go everyday – for weeks or even months.

You have to practice – you have to be patient – you have to be disciplined – sleep well the night before – be in shape – you get the drift.

We see surfing as a call to excellence. A discipline. A tribe of like-minded individuals who are willing to set their sights on a goal, take a risk, and put themselves out there into the unknown. Then own the outcome. Even failure. Then get back up and try again – and again.

That’s what life is about. That’s what surfing is about. You’re not judged by how big of a wave you catch. How cool your friends are, or even how cool your clothes are. You judge you. You monitor your own successes and failures. You’re the road, the engine and the wheels all wrapped into one.

Choose your path

Choose your path – but also choose your reaction to the destination. More than not, it’s unknown – and you’re bound to hit some curbs along the way.

See it’s not about what other people think. It’s only about what you think. What your goals are for yourself. What you want to achieve and what you’re willing to do to get there.

If you’re waiting for someone else to come along and save you, you are wasting your time. It’s an inside job. Only you can do the work – but good news is you also get the reward.

— END —

Leave Your Shore is a series of short stories, company news and inspiration written by the founder of Over Winter, Ryan Mathews. If you have comments or just want to say hey, you can use the form below or email support@overwinterco.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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