There comes a point in learning how to surf when you can stand up and cruise, but then what? Ruby Meade, a 23-year-old surfer from the North Island of New Zealand started her blog, The Surf Box to help women on those next steps to progress their surf skills. For beginners to intermediate surfers, her blog unravels the art of sharpening your take off to tips for traveling solo. After a few weeks coaching for Surf With Amigas in Nicaragua, Ruby is drifting through Central America in the pursuit of long right-handers, barrels and self-discovery. What a life.
“I simply love the way it makes me feel,” she says about choosing the adventurous road. “Is it easy? Not always. Is it worth it? Indefinitely yes.”
Ruby shared her story about how she hit a crossroads after university and chose to follow her heart.
By Ruby Meade
Photos by Kellie Mcintosh
There is something about the ocean that always keeps me coming back, and has me addicted to the feeling of being engrossed in her changing mood. To me, the ocean provides challenge. It provides a palate that satisfies all of my senses. The ocean provides refuge from my mind. In these moments, swallowed by the heavy weight of the water, I am reminded—this is life, this is what living is for. I choose to live life a little differently than the average person. I base my lifestyle and career around surfing, adventure, and the ocean.
Originally, I was heading on a path vastly different from the one that I am on now. From the age of 18, I had begun to feel the pressures of adult life and society weighing down upon me. I was pushed to go to university, pushed to study, pushed to focus my energy into something that would make me money because let’s be practical here, without any money, life isn’t exactly a dream.
I knew that working in an office wasn't right for me—the professional attire, the deadlines, the strict procedures and systems—but I didn't listen to myself, I did it anyway. Working the 9 to 5, commuting back and forth to the city, I began to feel smothered by what my daily life included. I began to lose my zest for the other aspects of my life. My confidence began to falter, I forgot what it felt like to be free, to be inspired, to have energy. I was consumed by both the idea and the reality of my new professional direction, choosing to simply resign to the fact that this was “normal” adult life.
I believed that the dream of life being fulfilling and an adventure was damaging and an “airy fairy” view of how I may fit into the world. Over time I thought that I had curbed my wants and my desires but little did I know, I had simply just numbed myself to them. At 21, I received a call from my father. He revealed to me that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. There was nothing they could do about it. The slow and terrifying event of my father's passing had pushed me over the edge. I couldn't convince myself I was happy. I didn't have the energy to try and trick myself anymore. A rock bottom year approached. I struggled.
After a year ruled with anxiety, and unshakable feelings as though I had been cheated by life, something slowly began to change. The good thing about hitting rock bottom is that everything then flows up. This has been the biggest turning point in my life so far. Over this time I began to develop a realization. I began to realise that life is not guaranteed in any way shape or form. Life is not guaranteed to inspire you. Life is not guaranteed to provide meaning, to provide safety, to provide greatness. If you want something, you have to go and get it, and even then, nothing is guaranteed. From then on, I decided to rewire my path, and follow something in which I knew when my day came, like it had for my dad, that I could say, I felt alive.
Starting up The Surf Box as a new business in an attempt to align my career with my true passions and desires was, and still is, scary. I am passionate about my goal of inspiring and coaching women all over the world to better their surfing but just because there is passion does not mean the ride is smooth and seamless.
I constantly have self-doubt and dire financial situations are a struggle. “What if my ideas aren’t good enough?” “What if this is a complete fail?” “What if nobody likes my content?” These phrases seemed to be on a loop track in my head, but over time I’ve come to see them as simply passerby’s in a busy street, rather than the home in which I live. Though creating something on your own can be nerve racking, slow, and at times frustrating, it can also be incredibly rewarding, motivating and can open up a whole bunch of opportunities that otherwise would not be possible. Because of this lifestyle I am about to relocate to Nicaragua for the rest of the year. I get the opportunity to surf daily, to travel, to explore exotic locations and cultures and to work and focus on my own schedule. If the surf is pumping, work will wait. As long as I have internet, a coffee and my laptop, I’m good to go.
I was lucky enough to team up with the ladies at Surf With Amigas to further assist women to improve their surfing at a retreat style setting. This job is incredibly rewarding, a heck of a lot of fun and a great way to connect with even more women from all over the world. Working alongside a team of amazing and supportive instructors is the perfect contrast for me, as working on my own can at times be difficult and a little isolating.
In my time of struggle, I really had to ask myself, “What is it in my life that energizes me?” “What is it that brings me endless joy and leaves me feeling content?” My answer involved three things: surfing, friends, and adventure. When I reflect, the moments that bring me the most lasting joy are the moments spent, particularly with my girlfriends, surfing, road-tripping and experiencing and appreciating the small things along the way. There is something about surfing alongside other girls that I find inspiring. Compared to our male counterparts we are far and few between, and for me, this creates such an unspoken sense of recognition, a sense of camaraderie. To blend those two things with my passion for surfing— this is where I find direction and that much more to life.
Where to next?
Settling down in one place to me is something I struggle to see myself doing in the next five years. Though I love my hometown of Raglan, I would love to continue on this nomadic and oceanic-based path that has been laid out before me. To me, the goal was and still is to feel alive, to grow, and to continue to be inspired by the places and people I meet along the way. I hope to expand The Surf Box, to meet and coach more women, to continue to hunt for the next best wave, and to hopefully enjoy a taco or two along the way. This is a lifestyle inspired by the ocean, a story of why I live the way I do.
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