How often are we not brave enough to try something for fear of being crap at it?
Not flexible enough for yoga, hopeless at grammar so what’s the point of writing, I have lousy balance, surfing’s not for me, and the list goes on….. We have such high expectations of ourselves we back out.
I’m not talking the adrenalin pumping brave. Just the everyday brave.
On my last trip to the island of Nusa Lembongan a chance meeting with a couple from Singapore, a mother travelling with her 6 year old daughter, shone a light for me on this dilemma. That’s what I love about travel, the unexpected. New people. New perspectives.
We met on the terrace of Isla Indah Retreat, waiting to join the morning yoga class. Trina and I chatted whilst Sophie hit the swing, clearly seeing we were in for some boring adult talk. As travellers do, we sorted out the where from? and why here? questions.
“We wanted to be spontaneous, do something immersive, do something we’ve never done before that would require our focus.”
“We also wanted to test ourselves to see if we can get along for 4 days. I was worried we wouldn’t be good at it, imagining the daily arguments, but so far, 2 days in and we’re getting along fine!”
A colleague had recommended the surf package retreat along with a little advice…
“You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to be brave.”
As we parted ways I said yes! to a last minute invite to join their surf lesson later that day. I was on island time. Why not?
I’m in the boat as designated photographer, watching the group of surf students, journalling in between taking pics, loving every moment as if I was in the water myself.
Sophie, aged 6, is paddling as hard as her little arms can go to get out to the beginner friendly surf break. One of the Monkey Surfing instructors has her back, gently pushing when needed.
Trina, is whooping it up, standing on a board, catching a wave for the first time ever.
We all cheer when Sophie stands up on her board, kinda wobbly, but she’s up, riding a gentle wave.
Everyone in the group is happily doing their own thing. Some riding with grace, others wobbling their way in. It’s not an issue, the instructors are handling the different levels, getting everyone to do their best, whatever that looks like.
They’re being brave, not perfect.
Post surf lesson we continued the conversation over lunch.
‘Kids can be over protected. I’m trying not to be such a neurotic mother. In Singapore it’s easy to be that way. Young girls are conditioned to think so many things are dangerous or not ladylike. I tell Sophie you have to do things that you’re a bit scared of. She’s quite risk averse. But I let her know she can do it.’
The previous day I nearly backed out of snorkelling a bay with a big drop off to one side and a rock wall on the other. It turned out to be the highlight of the day. Thrilling. Beautiful.
I wasn’t worried about being crap at snorkelling. I’m so ok that I’m the one that drops like a rock off the side of the boat whilst others glide effortlessly into the water, barely a splash. My fears were around getting washed into the rocks, I’m not a strong swimmer.
The captain gave a safety briefing, warning us about the current, advising us how best to stay away from the rocks. “Follow the guide, if you get tired swim to the boat, wave if you need to be picked up.”
Just as I was counting myself out, he finished up by saying… “this is my most favourite place, so I really hope everyone will get in the water and enjoy it.” That did it for me. I was in. No more regrets.
I swam with one eye on the beautiful fish and coral, the other on the guide and his lifebuoy. I started to relax and enjoy the wonder of the underwater world around me.
I was the first back to the boat. The captain was concerned I wasn’t having a good time. “Are you ok? Are you having trouble with your mask?” I assured him I was fine, if only he knew how damn happy I was with myself.
As he saved me from drowning myself in the act of taking off my flippers, giving me tips, lending a hand, it occurred to me that I could do better in asking for help more often.
Not only are we held back by our fears of being not ‘insta perfect’ we’re scared or embarrassed to be the one in the group to ask ‘the dumb questions’ the simple tips that can make all the difference.
There was so much help, I only had to ask for it.
My note to self…. being brave is all about how I define it….. don’t get caught up in other peoples’ ideas of brave.
Fear is the thing that paralyzes, while bravery is the thing that frees. Fear is the thing that chooses mediocre, while bravery is the thing that takes the risk of chance, a chance that could bring greatness or defeat. Fear always leads to regret, while bravery leads to knowing. thought catalogue
Later in the afternoon, I catch Sophie and Trina chillin’ on their balcony, giving their tired muscles a well deserved rest.
I ask for one word to describe how they felt after their first surf lesson…
That says it all really.
I stayed at Isla Indah Retreat on Nusa Lembongan Island.
I did the snorkelling and surfing with Monkey Activities as part of the retreat package at Isla Indah.
I had a great time, met wonderful people, and would highly recommend you check them out if you’re planning a trip to Nusa Lembongan. Chris and Trinity, the owners, take good care of their guests.