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Why Compete? Thoughts from Cathy Young - President of Wahine Kai



Why Compete?

Should you compete to prove to everyone that you are good at something? Is the competition a forum to showcase your skills and define yourself? Or are there other reasons to compete? That depends on your mindset. Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Do you believe that surfing is only about raw natural talent or is it a skill that can be honed and improved upon with effort and determination?


For me, my natural athletic ability allowed me to catch on to surfing quickly, but it has been the time and effort in the water that allows me to surf at the level I am at today. Every time I have paddled out into waves that were beyond my skill set allows me to now make drops that would have previously petrified me. It was all of the days when I had to muster up the courage and strength to place myself in the line-up and in position for the waves that fueled my growth as a surfer and as a human being. There is nothing more humbling than being tossed around like a rag-doll and knowing that the only way you are going to break thru the surface of the water is up to you and your mindset to survive. So each time you push the edges of your comfort zone in water you are making yourself a better surfer and a better person.


As most of you know I competed in the City of Huntington Beach (locals) Surf Contest and placed 6th out of 18 female competitors ranging from age 58 down to pre-teen girls. I left that contest feeling victorious and it had nothing to do with my placement. Let me explain why. When I competed in this contest about 10 years ago I hyper-ventilated to the point that my vision was failing and I couldn’t see 3 feet past the front of my board. I was so afraid of failure that I was cutting off the oxygen to my brain and I was in a complete panic attack. At that time, I had a fixed mindset. Subconsciously I had decided that the contest was going to define me as a surfer and a person, a winner or a loser.


When I paddled out this time, with an open mindset, I did it to make myself a better surfer and a better person. I was placing myself in a position of pressure to perform in front of others. Something that I am not naturally comfortable doing. I now know that in order to grow as a person (and a surfer) that I need to work on my areas of weakness. It is by overcoming challenges and facing adversity that allows us to grow. So, I paddled out, stayed relatively calm, chatted with the other competitors, pointed out a few waves for them and came in knowing that I was a better surfer and person.


I changed the reason why I was paddling out. Not to compete and show off my skills but to support female surfers and re-assure myself that one moment in my life was not going to define me. I am not a fixed person, but an ever-changing and growing soul living a human life to the best of my abilities one moment at a time!

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