There are some stories that I have kept close to my chest throughout the years.

Some that I really just knew that they would be better off not being out there or that they were somehow safer just with me. I guess I wasn’t ready to tell those stories or really come to do something about them. When I tell them and speak them into existence, they change.

They change because whenever I write something down my heart ends up going to work on it.

This experience of having moved away for the past three months has been an experience of a lifetime so far. I’ve learned more about myself than I thought I ever would, completely understand what it means to me to be fully on my own and I’ve faced some interesting challenges along the way.

But there’s been a conversation that’s been going on inside of me for about a year now. It’s October again, and it seems that every single October for the past couple of years has been the time that I’ve gone through some sort of significant transformation. A couple of years ago it was finally starting a journey that I had been trying to start my entire life. Last year it was actually watching that journey merge into reality.

However, something felt very off about everything that happened last year. The aftermath of everything that happened after my photo shoot (which don’t get me wrong was incredible) was pretty much one of the most brutal time periods I’ve ever gone through. November, December, January wrenched my soul and I limped through February and the months after. It was only until Spring that I really started picking myself up again.

That black cloud that hung over this time period made me feel like I had missed something.

That somehow whatever I had done wasn’t complete or ready to have the book completely closed.

I felt like I wanted redemption. 

Another try at it. Another go at this thing that had driven a lot of my life and built me from the ground up. It was the heart calling again. It was calling me to dive in just one last time.

Another part of me thinks I’m absolutely nuts for doing it. ‘Wait didn’t you do everything you had set out to do?’

On paper – yes.

But in my heart – no.

I don’t feel complete with it and that’s how I know I have to go into it again. Once more into the fray. One more fight.

This is one piece to the story that’s going on right now.

For years since competitive sports ended, I haven’t had an outlet for this deep sense of competitiveness that is buried inside of me. That chord had been unplugged for a long time but the moment I took up surfing, mustered up the guts to go out into the bigger waves and landed my first 5-7ft wave that chord simply jacked right back in.


I had the bug again. Little did I know that the next few days would be some of the more challenging days of learning as I attempted to get into big wave after big wave only to be torn to bits time after time and really having to start working with some commitment to the wave fear.

If you slow up. If you lean back. If you don’t time it right…you’re going to wipeout.

What didn’t make it easier was unknowingly being overenthusiastic next to a local and him getting pretty upset about me being out there in the first place. That was fun. While he did have a few great points – after I dove into a handful of articles on the unwritten rules of surfing – he didn’t have to try to tear me down.

I know I’m not that good. But I am going for it. I am making efforts. And if anything, I’m failing valiantly.

But there’s something to be said about this process. A couple of weeks ago I was just trying to get up in the whitewater. Now I’m actually paddling for bigger waves that offer a great deal of punishment when you don’t quite get it right. Once I land it properly, I am off to the races.

It’s hard to be a beginner again. But the process is worth it. The hundreds of times you fail is worth that one time you really nail it. That feeling is a thrill of a lifetime. This process of taking on this completely new sport with absolutely no experience whatsoever at 27 is one of the hardest and yet most fun things I’ve done in a long long time. So much fun that it has changed my story in terms of how I want to write the remainder of this trip.

In fact, it paved part of a path that will probably extend all the way throughout my life.

I want to be that old guy still out there doing it. But it has also slowed me down. While the competitive side comes out, there’s also something about just being out in the water sitting on your board relaxing and having fun. There’s something about talking to the guys around you, rooting them on into waves and going for it when it’s your turn. I know I’m just starting, but I also know that it’s going to be something I want to get good at.

So I’ll just try to get better and better every day.

Things are changing once again for me this winter.

It seems like every 3 months there are great shifts. I’ve heard that people often change with the seasons. While these past few months have been fun, they have also been a learning process. More than anything though, they’ve been an opportunity for me to really understand what I want to do with myself.

I struggled with developing a vision for a long time because I couldn’t exactly see where the balance was in my personal life in regards to what I was doing for fun. To me, being in the water is self nourishing. It balances me out. Even if I eat it a ton I am still happy. There’s something to be said for that. There’s something to be said about having fun and enjoying the process even though you’re not having your best day.

Maybe this is the countless years of sports talking in me again. Or maybe this is just the enthusiasm coming out of me.

I believe I can.

So I will.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project