They say it takes a village to raise a child – and I wholeheartedly agree. Along the same lines, I strongly believe it takes a sisSTARhood to raise a girl into a strong resilient woman.
I would describe a sisSTARhood as a community of like-minded women who provide an unconditional lifeline of support. They are your a cheer squad. The people who want you to succeed and always have your back.
I lost my mum when I was six so I grew up with my amazing Dad and older brother. I surfed mainly with boys. Most of my friends and mentors were men. I have been surrounded by testosterone my whole life.
The way we frame a situation determines the actions we take. It all starts with our perceptions.
When I joined the women’s world tour in 1990 with the aspiration to become a world champion I struggled to establish strong relationships with the majority of my female competitors. I was focused on scarcity - the lack of opportunity for women to make a living as a professional surfer, the lack of recognition and respect from our male competitors and the lack of support offered to women by the surfing industry. It was tough and we were tough on each other and ourselves. These experiences fuelled my belief that success has to be hard.
We are always seeking proof of what we believe.
My fierce competitive mindset and determination to become the most successful female surfer in history drove me to win six consecutive world titles at great expense - my quality of friendships, health and wellbeing and overall happiness.
Tagged as being as compassionate as a tiger shark, one of my biggest lessons in life is learning the ability to reach out and ask for help while also being a pillar of support for others. Once I realised the power of vulnerability and tapped into an attitude of gratitude I began to create deeper bonds both in and out of the water, increasing my sense of self worth, happiness and capacity to help others.
Away from the tour I enjoyed strong and meaningful relationships with a bunch friends who today are still my 'go to' girls. They are my honesty barometers and my sisSTARhood. They are open, honest and always bring the best out in me.
The sisSTARhood is what my Foundation Aim for the Stars is built on. We support women and girls across Australia, who have initiative, drive and passion to achieve their dreams. We invest in their sense of self-belief and encourage them to pay it forward by assisting other women and girls within their communities.