Lydia Ricard seemed like she had it all figured out. From the outside, the young women was, like so many others, following the set path. College, University and a career that would follow suite and define her whole life. The only problem was that deep inside, she wasn’t happy, but slowly but surely, learning how to listen to her inner voice, she finally found where she belongs.
“I have always been a person that knows what she wants, always very curious and wanting to learn everything. That’s how I was when I was a kid and I feel that around the last few years of high school, I got into that circle of trying to do what everybody does. I felt like I was just a robot for four years. I just was not myself.”
Even though she has no idea what she wants to do with her life, Lydia feels the pressure to pursue her studies. Nursing it’s going to be. But the pressure is high and the motivation lacking. All that stress makes it hard for her to realize that it may be more than the normal burden of a University student, that her unhappiness and dissatisfaction might be a greater problem than she thinks. Until she decides to take life by the horns.
“I always wanted to travel, but I was never making it happen I was just seeing all these people travel and was envious of them. I remember this girl I was working with was going to Australia for a year and I told her how lucky she was. She responded that she wasn’t lucky, she made it happen. That just totally changed my mindset. It didn’t just happen, she made it happen. That’s when I decided I was going to go on my first trip.”
Within a year, Lydia makes it happen for herself by spending a month in Costa Rica during her Christmas break. The start of her trip doesn’t go as planned and she’s desperately trying to make it work but ends up frustrated and stressed. A Costa Rican she meets makes her realize she has to just enjoy the moment and let things be. This vacation, that encounter and surfing changed her whole perception of life.
“I went surfing there on a classic beginner beach. I had a surf lesson and stood up on my first wave and thought “This is it! This is what I want to do.” I’ve always been good at sports, good at a lot of things I’m doing, but I’m never REALLY good at it. I felt like I had found my passion and that’s what had been missing in my life.”
Coming back home, Lydia has to go back to school for the winter semester. Her time dreaming of surfing helps her get through as she’s already starting to plan her next trip, but fate has other plans. Three weeks after being back, she is diagnosed with a mono that turns her life upside down. Unable to do her internship, school ends up on the back burner while she tries to recover. Unexpectedly though, her time away from it all helps her to find some clarity.
“I’m not the kind of person to get sick a lot. It helped me realize I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing. I was just going into nursing because I didn’t know what to do but for years and years, all I had wanted to do was travel and travel. I was not listening to that. I ended up being really stressed out with nursing school and it just got me sick.”
As summer is approaching, Lydia rents a little apartment in a small town away from external influences while she goes about her soul search. But again, her plans would be changed. A friend visiting tells her he’s going across the country to BC and that she should come with. With 5 days to make up her mind, pack up and go, Lydia has not other choice than to follow her gut.
“We were going to Whistler to meet up with my friend. On the way there, while we were in Jasper, I was talking with this random guy about loving surfing. He told me we could surf in Canada, I was surprised when he told me about Tofino. We ended up driving to Tofino. I set my feet here and never left, I never even made it to Whistler still to this day.”
Shortly after getting to Tofino, Lydia finds work somewhere where she is also provided with staff accommodations. She quickly meets people and has a blast but she’s missing the one thing she came to Tofino for. Surfing!
“Before I left home, I had bought a surf board and a wetsuit I wanted to use in the river to get fit. I had left it all behind because I didn’t think I would be coming here. I asked my mom to ship me my wetsuit so when it arrived, I stopped everything, all the partying and started surfing. I was going surfing every morning. The people I was living with were wondering what the hell I was doing, why I was going to bed a 9 every night. I was going to surf at 6 AM!”
What was supposed to be a summer soul search turns into much more. When September comes, Lydia decides to not go back home, to walk away from nursing and to see where this takes her. Then, she sees the women compete at Queen of he Peaks and makes it a goal to be there, surfing those waves the following year.
“October the following year happened and I was so scared. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it anymore. I did it and I thought I was going to puke in the water. The waves were pretty big that day. I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able paddle out. It was a good overhead and more. I got three waves and was done. I was so nervous the entire time I was there. I finished third in my heat and was just stoked that I had done it.”
Queen of the Peaks gives her a drive she had never felt before to get as good as she can, to try and surpass herself. It also leads to her getting a teaching job with the Surf Sisters, an awesome means to share her passion for surfing with others. Then, for her second attempt at Queen of the Peaks, Lydia makes it to the quarter finals, something she’s very proud of.
“I’m getting close to my dream. I know that within the next two years, I’ll be at a level where I want to be which is really crazy for me to think. I didn’t even know how to surf two years ago. I improved fast because I really do it with all my heart. I just observe and take in every little tip that people are willing to give me.”
Lydia was lucky enough to be given another chance at it but mostly, she was smart enough to listen to her heart, something many of us forget to do.
“Now I just think that mono is the best thing that happened to me, seriously. I know it sounds so weird, but that mono was a kick in the butt from life to tell me “Hey, you have lost your track a long time ago.” Surfing made me understand a lot of things. It taught me to listen to my instincts. I had forgot how to do that for a lot of years, how to listen to the little voice inside and to trust it. That’s why I’ve been really happy here. It’s because I feel it inside. I know I’m at the right place.”
When is the last time you listened to that little voice inside you? Lydia has just one advice, to follow your heart, follow your gut, because who knows where it will take you!