Once I was given the chance to go to Costa Rica, I mentioned sure with out query. An opportunity to journey to a brand new place and go to an all-women surf camp? Signal me up. However because the journey grew close to, the fact began to set in. On the age of 26, I’d by no means traveled alone. And though I might be at an all-inclusive retreat, I might be navigating it on my own — and that scared the shit out of me.

For probably the most half, I’ve at all times performed it protected. I’ve by no means even lived exterior of my hometown. After graduating, I instantly began working in my chosen discipline. I’m not sad with my life, however I consider that to transcend to a different stage of life, you must do stuff you’ve by no means thought-about. As such, I shortly realized that occurring this journey would imply much more than merely studying to surf.

So, with the intention of letting go, I packed my baggage. After a four-hour flight and a two-hour drive, I lastly arrived in Nosara, Costa Rica. From the second I stepped foot onto the resort, the lodge gave off nothing however enjoyable vibes. Because it was tucked away in what the locals known as “the jungle,” we have been surrounded by sounds of nature. It was so calming to be in such a distant location, however I knew that quickly, my thoughts and physique could be put to the check.

Courtesy of Shanelle Drakeford

After consuming dinner the primary night time, the attendees all gathered to fulfill the instructors, see the schedule, and study extra in regards to the retreat. The surf faculty was run by an incredible staff of ladies surfers below the course of former olympian surfer, Andrea Diaz. Andrea assured us we’d have an ideal expertise however that she was going to push us all to make sure that we received probably the most out of our journey.

The subsequent few days have been a journey, as I’d fully underestimated how tough studying easy methods to surf could be. I felt defeated after my very first surf session; I didn’t catch any waves and was exhausted simply from preventing the present. Apart from understanding easy methods to learn waves, browsing requires loads of power that I’d fooled myself into pondering I had. However my confidence led me to consider that the subsequent day could be higher and that I’d be excelling very quickly.

The sun setting on a beach with people walking by

Courtesy of Shanelle Drakeford

Nonetheless, the subsequent day was not higher — and to be frank, the subsequent few days weren’t, both. I used to be at battle with the water and myself. I discovered myself in a continuing loop of paddling, attempting to face, falling, repeat. Sooner or later, I made a decision to go additional into the water, previous the shallow half the place the waves break. The water was calmer nevertheless it was additionally a bit deeper than what I’d turn into used to. I hadn’t turn into fully snug with such a big physique of water, so I closely relied on my board to maintain me afloat. Quickly, nonetheless, an enormous wave knocked me from the soundness of the board, and I panicked after I realized I used to be unable to the touch the seafloor.

I discovered my manner again on my board, however I used to be so shaken up that I went again to the shore. As I stood on the seashore watching everybody surf, I felt a flood of feelings wash over me and commenced to cry. I used to be nonetheless scared from what had simply occurred, however I used to be additionally offended I’d let the expertise maintain me from ending my session.

Shanelle Drakeford doing the tree pose in front of trees

Courtesy of Shanelle Drakeford

Proper there on the seashore, I started recounting my time in Costa Rica and began to query whether or not approaching this journey was proper for me. It appeared like I used to be the one one swatting mosquitoes on the dinner desk whereas everybody else loved one another’s firm. I used to be the one one who wasn’t having enjoyable browsing. I even thought in regards to the nickname I had acquired, “princess,” from how prissy I used to be appearing.

In between sobs, Ines, the photographer, opened as much as me. She defined that studying easy methods to surf isn’t a lot about catching the wave however merely not giving up. In some way, she satisfied me to return within the water. Although I stayed within the shallow half, I saved attempting.

Shanelle Drakeford standing on a beach in a orange cropped top and striped pants

Courtesy of Shanelle Drakeford

Initially, I blamed what was taking place in Costa Rica on my circumstances. I knew easy methods to swim however wasn’t really snug in giant our bodies of water. I reasoned that I had by no means surfed earlier than. I even positioned blame on the instructors, and questioned if I used to be being left behind as a result of I used to be a newbie. And though a few of these issues have been true, on the root of all of it, they have been mere excuses. I spotted I used to be missing the drive to maintain going as a result of I wasn’t seeing the progress I wished to see.

I knew one thing needed to change. I had two days left in Costa Rica and wasn’t going to waste them crying on the seashore. These final two days I made extra progress than throughout your entire remainder of the journey. Essentially the most rewarding half was catching my first and solely wave. I rode it for about 5 seconds, however they have been my happiest 5 seconds in Nosara.

Shanelle Drakeford surfing in Costa Rica

Ines Espinoza

Since returning to the states, my new browsing abilities haven’t been put to make use of. Nonetheless, I’ve utilized a brand new mind-set to my life. Whereas I used to be in Costa Rica, the instructors steadily mentioned, “Be water,” to show us easy methods to be higher surfers. Andrea says that nice surfers are similar to water — they transfer with it, they adapt to it, they don’t battle it. This is applicable to life as properly.

I feel the explanation I’ve at all times performed it protected is as a result of with familiarity comes management. Nonetheless, familiarity doesn’t enable house for development, and that’s what I used to be lacking out on. I discovered that by spending each waking second attempting to manage my life, I used to be lacking out on loads of experiences and classes alongside the way in which. Letting go in sure methods has satirically made me really feel extra highly effective than ever. Having the religion to have the ability to go wherever life takes me is much more essential to me now.

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