A few weeks ago I went to Sri Lanka for a three week vacation on my own (which by the way, never go to Sri Lanka alone! You will feel lonely). It was a very interesting experience. Before I had been in Iceland. All I would have had to do, to get to know new people in Rekjakiv, would have been to go to the bar above our hostle. By the end of the evening I would have 10 new facebook friend requests. Sri Lanka was very much the polar opposite. Noone travels alone and all the resorts and hotels cater to the typical couple on moneyhoon (it’s very expensive!). Moreover Sri Lanka is a secret surf spot for people from all over the world and so it was a no-brainer to take some surfing lessons. Mind you, I am complete beginner.
So here is the backstory to my surfing adventure; On this one particular day me and my surf teacher were at Elephant Point in Arugambay. It’s a very cool spot. You walk along some rocks, paddle out in to sea, do your surf thing, wash up ashore and walk along the rocks again to the starting point. Very cool, since you don’t have to paddle towards the waves, but can take the walking route.
Now here’s the thing about surfing. It’s incredibly cool! It’s fun! It’s challenging! You spend a lot of time just waiting for waves and paddling against the current, but once you stand on that board while the wave pushes towards the shore, you feel like a king, just to be overthrown by a violent revolution, which mostly arrises from your inability to stay balanced long enough. But all the troubes are worth it. Nonetheless there are some things, which can make your surfing experiences incredibly annoying. Small waves, strong currents and bad weather all suck. And people! People suck.
You see, when you are out there on your own or with a few friends, you just have a good time. But when 25 people want to catch the same wave it sucks. When you are on the board and someone’s in the water in front of you things can get very dangerouse very fast. More than once will you be forced to get off the board even tought you had the perfect wave because another guy is in your way. Similarly if too many peole take one wave there might be a collision.
So here’s the story:
Me and my surf teacher are out on the water. He helps me catch a wave and with his help I get to ride about half way to shore. So I am standing there, neither too far nor to near to the shore. One might just paddle ashore, but then again why not just take another wave on my own. So I wait on my board. Ideally I’d like to ride a white wave (they are easier to ride, tought it looks less fancy). And along comes the wave. I can see, I was contemplating for a few seconds wether this might be the one and I decide to take it. I start to paddle. As I am about to get on the board I can suddendly hear a girl screaming in front of me. She`s not just screaming anything, but she`s screaming “No! No! No!”. This apparently is the international sign for “get the fuck of your board”. Which I then proceed to do, with out catching the wave. Still I get hauled a few meters closer to shore. As I emerge from the blue she approaches me. She looks quite good, she`s wearing a One-piece. She does have a tan and beautiful long dark hair. Next to her she is holding a tiny pro-surfboard (bigger boards are easy to use, smaller boards are more versatile, so she must be quite the pro). I am already considering our first date, our wedding and thinking of different names for our children when she starts yelling at me something along of “You fucking idiot, can`t you see there`s people in front, you fucking idiot” with a slight French accent.
Now of course I did see that, for beginner Joshua it is difficult to differentiate when I can actually take a wave and when it is too dangerous. You see, almoust always will there be people in front of you, but when is it too dangerous to catch a wave…if the next person is 10 meters in front of you? 20 meters? 50 meters? I simply did not know. I profously excuse myself, showing her my open hands, then I fuck off.
To a normal person, this is a slightly awkward social interection, that is to be brushed off as soon as you turn your head. But I was boiling. I was so fucking angry, my hands were shaking. The first thing I did on the beach is put down my board and smoke a cigarette or six. You see to her this was nothing. This was a small annoyance interupting hear dream surf holiday. But I was so angry. Didn`t she see that I was beginner? I had a gigantic board and it`s not like I was a gracious swan handling that board. I understand I made a mistake. But scoulding people sure as hell is not gonna help. A simple stern warning would have done the trick; “Look dude, you can`t do this because….next time just ….have a nice day”. It would have made a world of a difference to me, but she decided to go the fuck you route. And it made me so furious. I was flaberghasted, my hands shaking, I could barely light my cigarette. How are you surfer guys expecting to get a bigger following? By fucking over everyone who makes mistakes in his 1st week of surfing? I just wanted to scream at her, I was already thinking of numerous French swear words I could throw at her the next time we passed; Nique-to, et oui je parle francais ( Fuck you, and oh yes I understand French). There were two courses of action. Either I would go bonkers at her or just brush it off. But here`s the thing, when she got on my nerves, the only thing I did is say sorry and excuse myself. At the same time I was so angry I wasn`t able to control my own body. I ended up smoking almoust half a pack, which by the way also is a thing you shouldn`t do when surfing.
Here`s what a “normal” person would have done; Either they would have fucked back in that exact moment or they would have forgotten about it the next time saltwater was crawling back up their nose. But for me neither was happening. Why? Why was I angry but could not express that anger?
On that beach, with a board next to my feet, a shaking hand and a cigarette in my hand, I realized it was confidence. It hit me like a wrecking ball, I did not have any confidence. A confident person would have talked back and not feared any repurcission or just brushed it off. I couldn’t do neither.
And so I am doing the only sensible thing one does, when you aren’t self confident; I started a blog.
So welcome to my journey, the goal is to share a bit of my life and have a closer look at confidence. Who knows, maybe we’ll find the secret formula and if not we might as well enjoy ourselves.
Oh, by the way, turns out the girl was Israeli, I would have made a total fool out of myself, if I’d started swearing in French.
See you in a week.