Shelby Taylor shares her goals and aspirations of what she really wants to accomplish in her life in the SUP world.
Words by Shelby Taylor:
I recently had a conversation with someone who I highly admire and esteem today that really brought me down to earth. After looking back on my track thus far and my plan for the future, he asked me kindly as a way to maybe help me find a clearer and less stressful path, “what is your goal in this industry, really?”
What is my goal? At first it felt like a loaded question. I have so many goals, so many things I want to accomplish, so many people I want to help, so many souls I want to meet and touch, so many titles I want to win, so many epic quests I want to conquer, so many places I want to paddle, so many skills and techniques I want to master, SO MUCH! My goal?.... Well to conquer the world, I guess.
Shelby (right) and friends
But the question was more heart-felt, “Shelby, what is your ultimate goal, what you want in 5 years?” Now anyone that knows me and my competitive nature would know that my first jerk reaction response would be to be the best female paddler in the world, to break a barrier for female athletes and do it with strength and passion! But those who know me also know that I need time to think things through.
It is so easy for me to look at the paddlers who I look up to so much and want what they have, I get starry eyed over the fame, the attention, the prestige earned by pure guts and dedication and battle! I think all paddlers who compete have this urge inside of them- it is what makes us push ourselves a bit further every day and not give up.
I am no exception to this yearning or lust- but is it my ultimate goal to be big and famous? Is my life dream to be in magazines for the short time I am on top and get interviews and have everyone look at me with amazement? This is where it set in hard for me and I have taken a step back to really put into perspective my passion.
I realize now that when you focus so much on all you personally want (selfishly what you dream of becoming in the eyes of others) you lose touch with the real meaning of the sport and what it represents. This individual focus is what will drive one to become the best, will make one athlete surpass another and achieve higher ranking- but I have found that it takes the pleasure and beauty and simplicity out of its practice.
Not saying that I don’t live for the rush and endorphins or that l won’t push myself as hard as I possibly can go everyday- because that is part of what makes me ME and something that I pride myself on and enjoy, but taking a step back and realizing that only 0.1% of the women who race will become the “Annabel Anderson” of the industry and learning not to solely base my happiness and confidence and identity on becoming that because it has brought me more harmful feelings than good, more disappointment when what I should be feeling is stoked that I got to race yet again doing what I love with people I love in a beautiful place surrounded by support and smiles and healthy lifestyles.
I know that there is high chance I will never be that 0.1% of powerhouse-ness, and I am ok with that. Do I want to be that good? Of course! But, I am just as happy and a bit more fulfilled knowing that as long as I can paddle, share, travel, compete, and grow- I am doing that I was destined to do. Be it best in the world or not…
Thinking back deeply on the reason that out of all the sports in the world that I have competed in, loved, and succeeded in, why am I willing to sacrifice everything I own and my physical health and put all things on hold so to pursue paddle boarding? Why am I so in love with SUP? Why do I go to sleep thinking about it only to dream of my future adventures and to wake up and think “I want to go train!”
In answering those questions, I was able to see my path. My goal is to be the best paddler I can be, to train hard and commit myself to my racing and compete as often as life lets me because I love to do so. I love the sport because of all it represents and all the amazing people and memories and feelings that come along with being a part of the SUP community.
In no other sport have I made friends from ages 5-85 from all corners of the earth. In no other sport have I been surrounded with such passionate and compassionate people who share with me all they have asking nothing in return. In no other sport have I been able to share my past learnings and skills so to help another fellow athlete through a hard time.
It’s the beauty of that in this sport there is an even ground that all athletes walk together lovingly and humbly where the best elite paddler in the world is approachable and your friend- where there is no separation between #1 and #1400… It’s the kindness of being given ice cream from a fellow SUPer after your board is cracked in half during shipping to let you know that you are loved and not alone. In no other sport would I have an international family that I get to see every time I travel to a race and spend the weekend not only working my butt off in the water- but catching up with friends and sharing laughs and stories and learning more every day, growing not only as an athlete with every competition but as a person being touched by people from around the world. It’s a unique and special sport that is the reason I paddle my heart out and will for the rest of my days.
I find motivation in the fact that Paddle boarding saved my life when I was in a dark place, it showed me personal strength physically and mentally that allowed me to bloom and still be growing and shining now as a young woman and budding athlete.
I find inspiration meeting the best paddlers in the world and having them take the time to get to know me and help me, watching their beauty as they fly across the water so strong and fluidly in races. I find beauty in the fact that I can touch others lives with my stories and watch as other people find themselves with SUP (loose the unhealthy weight at last, build physical strength and stamina, build self confidence and pizazz) and be a role model to all the amazingly talented and awesome youth, my “rug rats”, as they start to find in themselves the passion I have inside of me. “Shelby, what is your goal in this industry?”
Well, I would have to say my goal is to be able to paddle for all of my days. My goal is to work as hard as I can now that I am focused on the competitive aspect of the industry and make MYSELF proud, not for anyone else. My goal is to learn something every day that will help me be a better person as well as a better athlete.
My goal is to make and keep these awesome friendships lifelong and to continue to expand my SUP family with caring loving strong and supportive awesome people like my sponsors and my fellow racers. My goal is to share my knowledge and my heart with many and to have a strong and healthy network that will support me in my conquests and share with me in my adventures and happiness, my successes and my failures, my youth and my middle age.
My goal is to be an integral part of the SUP community and pay it forward to all the people who make it possible for me, to work just as hard for the board company and family (as a racer and ambassador) as they do to make sure I have the best and fastest equipment and support network around, to race with my different Carbonerro paddles proudly, to share the love of my OX endurance formula to the awesome athletes around me, to be an ambassador for my loving and supportive Texas based flip-flops who share in my morals of sending $5 of every pair bought to child cancer research (Hari Mari), to help spread the love of SUP throughout Mexico alongside my overly generous friends and sponsors at StandUp Mexico, allow OnIt Pro to make my boards glide every race, and share the “Livin Lush” lifestyle that comes along with being a part of the Billy Lush team.
My goal is to be the best SHELBY I can be and represent not only women, Kentucky, and my sponsors, but the sport well. My dream is to do this forever- that would make me happier than any fame.