Following my heart…
To my friends, family and followers, I want to share a personal journey that’s led me to make a pretty big shift in my path forward. After months of reflection and soul searching, I’ve decided not to renew my contract with my sponsor Billabong.
Being part of the Billabong team for the last 5 years has been, in many ways, a dream come true; being supported to follow my passion in the world of surfing. It has been an honour to have been part of the team, learning and having experiences that have challenged me, excited me and helped me grow. I am truly grateful for all the experiences, adventures and the friendships made around the planet on this journey. And I have so much gratitude for the support, guidance and care I have felt under the wing of Billabong – especially here in Australia.
I still remember the day I got the call from Billabong that changed my life. I was 13 and had been working for 2 weeks helping my Mum renovate our old house in North Queensland so I could save enough money for a new wetsuit (all ours were second hand and patched up with dental floss!). A week after we were back home on the Gold Coast, Billabong called welcoming me to join the team. So we saved the money for the wetsuit and put it towards a surf contest!
Being supported and having that sticker on my board opened up so many opportunities and fed my youthful confidence that, if I worked hard enough, I could do anything! And everything felt like a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience – a whirlwind from travelling Australia sleeping in the old van to enter surf competitions, getting all the way to the ISA World Juniors and on to the World Qualifying Series, modelling and seeing myself in larger than life posters in the shop fronts and airports, photos shoots in exotic locations, opportunities to meet and create with incredible surfers, photographers and artists, sharing the stories on social media that grew a life of its own. Being able to travel the world surfing, learning and ‘giving back’ – connecting with communities and fuelling my passion for environmental justice has been incredible and I am so thankful. It’s been 5 years of a great relationship with Billabong.
When Covid hit, I did what so many of us did, which was to hit pause and re-evaluate where I was and where I wanted to go. I hunkered down in our self-made eco-house, surrounded by trees and animals, the roar of the ocean in the distance – and realised how close to burning out I was. I felt I was losing sight of who I was and what I wanted to be. Here in the forest, I was not being judged, evaluated or scored – the competition was gone. This simple, peaceful life that I came from reminded me that there will always be ‘enough’. On reflection, I knew the time had come to make a change, to come back to the core values that set my compass on this life journey; purpose before profit. I know it’s unrealistic to be ‘perfect’ in all this – but I want to do what I can do in this time of almost overwhelming crises on Mother Earth, to heal the contradictions, to keep following my passions authentically and full of heart and positivity.
Being supported by Billabong to create content moments with this vision at its heart, like the “Women of the Sea” series, has been the most meaningful and life-impactful work over the past few years. I’ve realised that, more than anything else, I want to promote and share more uplifting stories about grassroots environmental initiatives, to empower girls (especially) all around the world to connect with the ocean, to unite young people all over the world to this love of nature and to show how easy and joyful it is to live simply on the planet.
So, while It’s scary to step away from the scaffold of support, I think it’s time. Time to fly out of the nest for a bit, test my wings and follow my heart. I’m ready for the great unknown. My intention is to continue to keep following my dreams both in and out of the water- to respect and do as much as I can for the Earth and its people. I want to learn, grow and love without any contradictions or restrictions and continue persisting through compassion to follow my heart.
Thank you all. With love, Pacha