We’ve all been there, a place in life where the road splits. There is not wrong decision, but nonetheless a choice must be made, and made rather quickly before both opportunities pass you by. Your instinct might be telling you one thing, while your ego says “follow the pack…”
Summer, 2013, Mid-Atlantic surf contest, Ocean City Maryland. There was a continuous swell on the horizon and five girls, including myself, gazed between two bright orange buoys. The competition area was clearly marked, but the individual got to decide if she went to the north break or south break. As we stared, with our hands to our foreheads trying to block the morning sun, it was clear that the south break, at that moment, was more consistent. Four out of the five female surfers walked south. There I was left standing, watching my fellow surfers walk where they were drawn to. My head was telling me, “follow them, clearly there are waves down there!” While my instinct urged me, “walk towards the north buoy, surf there.” The judges gave a thirty second warning. The decision must be made quickly with no regrets. I turned north, away from the pack, and jogged to where I would make my entrance into the water. A loud buzzer rang, we all dashed into the water as the final heat of the women’s short-board division began. When I got to my destination in the water, it was flat, no waves at all were breaking close to me. Doubt began to intrude my mind, “you should have gone south with the others,” but my instinct stood strong, “wait, waves will come.”
Ten minutes into a twenty minute heat, still no waves. I gazed down and watched the other girls catch wave after wave. The crowd on the beach was yelling at me telling me to paddle south, but I sat, unwilling to give up my position in the water. My gut was sure, “there will be waves.” With every passing second the thought of paddling south grew. With just over eight minutes left in the heat an astounding set peeked on the horizon and was heading straight for me. I glanced down at the other girls. The peek they were sitting on became flat. “My turn,” I thought to myself. I caught wave after wave. With no competition around me, I was able to get five beautiful rides before the buzzer sounded and our heat ended. I was not sure how I did compared to the others, for we took separate paths. All I knew was, this experience was more than a surf contest to me. It was a situation to reflect upon for encouragement and a step towards following my heart, not my ego. At the award ceremony that afternoon, myself along with the other four girls were called to the podium. I ended up taking first place. It was all worth more than a trophy though. When you feel something so deep and knowing, follow it. Hold onto that feeling with trust and patience, even when people are trying to steer you in other directions.