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Water-borne excursion leaves a lesson in its wake

There are many benefits to living in East Tennessee, and the lakes that surround us are a great example of that.

Recently, I got a better taste of what exactly our area lakes had to offer — quite literally because it did involve a couple accidental mouthfuls of water — as I attempted a little something called wakesurfing for the very first time.

The first thing I learned about wakesurfing is that there is a difference between that and wakeboarding  — which I didn’t know until moments before going out into the water. For weeks I had been telling my friends I was about to try wakeboarding. (Oops).

So to give a very brief, not-so-technical difference for those of you — like me — who did not know the difference: Wakeboarding involves faster speeds, a different kind of board and more use of the rope.

Part of me had always wanted to try some type of boarding or skiiing, but my stomach was in knots when the day actually approached. My parents put me through swim lessons when I was younger, and I mastered the doggie paddle, but that’s pretty much all I retained. I’m someone who hates putting her face in the water — especially lake water —  and I try to avoid it at all costs. Eventually I realized that falling would be unavoidable, so I instead tried to fool myself into thinking I would figure out a magical way to fall without getting my face wet.

As I watched the other five people on the boat surf first, I tried to take note of their movements and admired their fervor as they darted in and out of the wake and glided over the water.

They impressed me. And I appreciated the fact that they pushed me to try it without making me feel too pressured. I psyched myself up and told myself I could do it. After all, attitude is everything, right?

On my first round in the water, I couldn’t even stand up on the board.

But I did on my second — and it only took about fifteen times of falling before I had a decently long ride.

It was exhilarating — I experienced a rush of adrenalin that I haven’t had in a very long time. It was worth having my eyes, nose and ears filled with lake water a couple times — and now I’m a little less afraid of that concept.

As I thanked the crew at the end of the day for all their support, they told me something that surprised me a little. I thought they have been wakesurfing for years, but they had only started last summer. They were just a group of people who pushed each other. They would pull up videos on the Internet and critique each other’s moves, constantly trying new tricks and tips to improve themselves. They described themselves as like-minded individuals who sought self-improvement in something that was important to them.

I once read that you are an average of the five people you hang out with the most. It’s important to spend time with people who have skills that you lack, but wish to cultivate. Since you become like the people you hang around, find people who inspire you to be the best version of yourself.

Success and happiness isn’t about comparing yourself to others, but it does require having a good group of people around you who can help you reach your goals  —  whether you’re on the lake, on the job or just one face full of water away from doing something great.

This series is a weekly installment about following through with a New Year’s resolution to have a new experience each week. To suggest topics or experiences, email alaina.akens@elizabethton.com.WEB-AlainaColumn