No matter what, you must simply continue doing what you do and being you. There’s nothing in the world that can stop you, nothing at all! Aneesha Nayak a 15-year-old surfer girl from Puttur has come a long way. Aneesha has won a bronze medal at the age of 14 at International science fair in the US. She believes in following her dreams and sends a strong message to our young readers that continue with your passion and not let anything affect your mental stability and inner peace.
1.What made you decide that you want to get into surfing?
Surfing, spending time in the ocean, felt wonderful to me. As in most cases, people panic when they go deep into the sea, but for me, it was completely the opposite. I could relate to the ocean, the roughness of waves yet the prevailing calmness which soothes the mind. The amazing blend of nature, power, force, roughness and peace was mind blowing. It felt so good to my mind and soul that from the very first time that I started surfing, I fell in love with the sport. When you catch a wave, the feel of the breeze going through your hair, the freshness that hits you, the water that splashes on your face along with the relaxed state of mind, this feel is super addictive, in a good way. Once you catch a wave, you have the urge to catch more and improve your skills. It’s also amazing how the mind and the body work hand in hand, helping you maintain your balance.
To me personally surfing has helped a lot in life, it, in fact, has also taught me a lot of lessons. Three years into the sport has helped me shape my mind and attitude in the right way. I have learnt to be humble, grateful and respectful to everything and everyone in my life. If I was ever depressed or angry, the moment I step in the water, it’s like I get cleansed, positivity overflows and after the surf session, I get out of the water in a much better state of mind.
To me, surfing is the universe. There are in fact, so many similarities between surfing and life. There are some days with amazing surf and there are days otherwise. But no matter what, it still is the supreme thing in my life. Despite the ups and downs of life, you just gotta stay strong and live. Live to stay pure and not let anything harm you. The whole connection that I feel with the mother Ocean is why I have gotten into surfing.
2.You went through a very rough patch during your childhood, how did you face all the struggle and hardship?
My childhood wasn’t for sure the one with rainbows and unicorns. My parents had a difficult marriage and that affected me a lot during my childhood. I didn’t have a normal childhood. I got to know a lot of things that kids normally shouldn’t know, I eventually became more mature for my age. I had and still have a very hard time in getting along with others my age. It so happened that I, like the others, couldn’t giggle on some idiotic things. They seemed so stupid to me and annoyed me as well. But then that’s where I learnt not to depend on anyone else but myself. Learning to be independent at such a young age has helped me a lot. Initially, it was very difficult for me to tolerate and go through all the fights and everything back home. But that was only until I decided not to let anything affect my inner peace. There is where I learnt that things affect you only when you believe that they do. Your mind is so powerful. Believe that you can and you will, it’s all in the mind!
My mum is the one person who has stayed true and the one who has helped in out no matter what. I’m very thankful for having as supportive a mum as she is. She has been my strongest pillar, my backbone all through my life. Despite the things that were happening in my life, she made sure to give me the confidence and faith to dream and to dream big. She has herself set a role model to me by being positive, strong-willed and by fighting for what is right. Because of her, I truly believe that one gets what one is destined to get. Also, it is from her that I’ve learnt to stay strong, confident and positive in all the difficult situations. The abundance of gratitude that I feel towards her is like the vastness of the Ocean.
3. Do you think there is a gender disparity in sports and do you see that in Surfing?
There for sure is gender disparity in sports, only it’s not as intense as it used to be. Slowly things are changing but still the men feel uncomfortable if overtaken by a female. In surfing, there is a bit of disparity. Except for my home break, where all the men I surf with are my trainers, my Gurus, who support me by helping me improve my surf skills, when I surf most of the other breaks the men tend to get over aggressive and try to put me down by not letting me catch waves. But I took this in a positive way. It has only helped me increase my speed and endurance to be able to surf out there, even if it means I’m the only girl, and be able to catch waves despite the male dominance.
4. You didn’t have a normal childhood like other children. Tell us what made you strong and share your story with us.
It all started when I was 3. My parents has a rough relationship when I was young. My mother was mistreated in the household which made her want to leave but she wasn’t clear about splitting up as I was a kid and she thought I would want my dad. Then came a day when I was 5, I can still see it as if it happened yesterday. That night my dad walked out of the house and went to his parents. My mother and I stayed alone for three months until he came back into the picture. Later on we moved from Mangalore to Puttur and things were working out for about a year. Eventually, my dad became alcoholic and would fight with my mother almost every night. This was my life from age 7. Once when I was 14 after the usual fight at night, when I was in the kitchen to get some water, my dad walked up to me and said something sweet as if nothing had happened, I looked him straight in the eye and told him not to talk to me if he didn’t know how to talk to my mom, and that’s the end, that was the last time that I spoke to my dad. Then came a day when my dad asked us to leave the house. My mother and I went through a lot of struggles at that point and we finally moved and he never tried to make contact after that. I wasn’t really okay with sharing my story but once I shared with a few friends something changed in me. There were friends who were going through similar things and hadn’t shared it with anyone. They shared it with me and they felt much better and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives.
5. What is the normal day in a Surfer’s life?
A normal day in a surfers life would preferably be an early morning surf session of 5 to 6 hours, then rest, and some training in the late afternoon and another surf session in the evening. Filled with yummy and healthy food at the right timings. Chilling on the beach, discovering and surfing new breaks. If travelling with friends or family and visiting a beach, a surfer is more likely to be seen analysing the waves/sea than clicking pictures or building sand castles!
6. How is India taking Surfing as a sport?
It’s been 13 years since it has been introduced in the country. People are slowly getting the hang of it and thinking differently. Since a kid, all of us have been told by the elders that, once you go to the deeper side of the ocean it will just grab us and that we will not be able to make it back on land. Though it’s slow, that thinking is now changing!
7. What are things can happen while surfing? Are you aware of them? don’t you feel afraid of big waves?
There are possibilities of an attack from a sea creature, getting some serious injuries (which I have experienced), big cuts and things like that can happen while surfing. Despite being aware of them, I choose to surf for the rest of my life. I for sure develop fear when the waves go really big, but my passion for surfing is way higher than my fear and hence I’d surf it no matter what.
8. Would have any suggestions for surfers of your age?
I would want the surfers to stay passionate about surfing and life. I’d like to encourage them to take the right path and achieve their dreams/goals.
9. What are your plans for future?
I plan to dedicate my life to surfing. I’d want to push my limits and train harder and harder. I want to represent my country in international surf meet and try to make it to the world best. I’d also want to spread the surf stoke and encourage more women to get into the sport or even for that matter, get into any field that they are interested in. Initially, they will face a lot of things from the society but they must stay strong, confident and believe in themselves, for, they will emerge to be excellent in their field of interest which will eventually kill the criticism of the society.
Follow Aneesha’s surfing journey @aneesha.nayak
Smita Diwan a Television Journalist and Communication Specialist with an experience of 10 years in media and leading satellite channels started whatshelikes.in as a digital hub for women in India. Smita specialises in Lifestyle, Home Decor, Health, Food and Product reviews. When she is not working,she is researching or practising yoga! @SmitaDiwan