There’s a shelf at Carissa Moore’s house in Honolulu the place she retains her journals. She has carried clean pages across the globe since she was a bit lady, scribbling her ideas and worries and objectives as she turned among the finest surfers on the planet.
She nonetheless does it.
This 12 months, understanding that she was going to retire from competitors, she wrote a brand new purpose: Face your fears.
Moore is 31. She is a five-time world champion and present defender of an Olympic gold medal. Now she needs to start out a household together with her husband, Luke Untermann. She needs to extract herself from the free construction and heat cocoon of her sport’s world tour, to redefine success on her personal phrases and in her personal thoughts.
She needs to be challenged otherwise, regardless that the simplest factor could be to stay round.
“All these wins, the aggressive half that’s a lot of my id, I’m taking that away, and I’m dealing with myself this 12 months,” she stated. “And that’s scary. Like, who am I? Am I going to be OK? Will I be capable of love myself and suppose that I’m worthy with out this?”
Moore displays a more recent era of athlete that brazenly discusses mental health and self-care. The superhero mystique positioned upon the most effective athletes is a veneer, everyone knows.
She sees vulnerability and relatability as extra trustworthy traits to mannequin. Possibly these are her superpowers.
There isn’t any single path for individuals who have been outlined so singularly, who grow to be the most effective at one thing, famously, after which stroll away from it of their prime. When most prime athletes retire, the dialogue is previously tense, an evaluation of accomplishments and legacies.
For Moore, that is about what she needs, not what she did. It’s concerning the everlasting, common seek for one thing extra — extra challenges, extra unknowns, extra that means.
“I’m excited to see what else there’s, exterior the jersey,” Moore stated.
Few have defined it so thoughtfully, so rawly, on their manner out. Browsing as a metaphor for all times is apparent and apt. Nothing is static. Place your self for the most effective wave, however know that there’ll all the time be one other. Be affected person. Be decisive. Be daring.
“My favourite rides, the best thrills have come once I’ve paddled over the ledge regardless that my coronary heart or my head is telling me to not, you recognize?” she stated. “The nervousness comes from ‘am I going to indicate up?’ I simply need to be happy with myself. I would like, on the finish of the day, to be like, ‘OK, I did my greatest. And I rose to the event.’ You realize?”
Has that been a difficulty?
“My complete life — my complete life,” she stated. “It’s one thing I’ve to work at daily, trying within the mirror and being, like, ‘You’re adequate, Riss. I’m so happy with you. And you are able to do this. You are able to do the issues that you just dream of.’ I believe it’s the sweetness and the beast of me, as a result of it guides me to maintain pushing and going for extra, however on the similar level, I wrestle with simply inside peace generally.”
She caught herself. “Not generally. On a regular basis.”
She plans to compete in two main occasions this 12 months on two of the world’s fiercest waves. The primary is the World Surf League’s season-opening occasion at Banzai Pipeline, on Oahu’s North Shore, beginning Jan. 29. Moore is the reigning champion, and she’s going to surf in entrance of shut family and friends.
In each locations, women have competed only sparingly, largely as a result of the waves have been thought of too difficult. The 2 waves scare Moore. That’s the level.
“After I’m in these positions, at these waves, am I going to go?” she stated. “After I’m on the peak, and it’s my flip, and I’ve to face that worry, am I going to run away from it or am I going to embrace it? Am I going to belief myself? Am I going to belief my capability? Am I going to lean into it? Am I going to go?”
Typically it may be laborious to know if she is speaking about waves or life. Or each.
A Little one Star
Moore was in a automobile, driving towards the large waves on Oahu’s North Shore, as she defined her determination. She has identified it for a 12 months, however has stored it from all however her closest confidantes till now.
“I don’t just like the phrase retirement,” she stated. “I wish to say a departure from the tour, or simply stepping again, or switching gears, or, like, evolving.”
She stopped there. “Evolving.” That feels proper. “Retirement” evokes leaving one thing; “evolving” means rising.
She was a toddler star in browsing, well-known in Hawaii since she was little. Her mother and father, Chris and Carol, divorced when Carissa was in grade faculty. Her father guided her browsing profession. She dominated youth competitions. At 16, she was on the cover of Surfer magazine. At 18, she was a world champion.
She was additionally combating body-image points and an consuming dysfunction — and talking about them, with a nudge from her father.
“He inspired me to personal my story,” she stated. “He inspired me to say, ‘Hey, I’m struggling. You see this however there’s a lot else occurring.’ And I’m a piece in progress. We’re all a piece in progress.”
Since becoming a member of the championship tour in 2010, Moore has completed the season exterior the highest three solely as soon as. She has received 5 world titles, the final in 2021, when she additionally won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I felt actually, actually content material, actually glad with all the things I achieved, and I used to be beginning to ask the questions: What extra do I would like? What extra do I want right here?” she stated. “I’ve sort of exceeded my expectations. After I was a bit lady, I actually solely dreamed of that first world title. I didn’t dream about 5 or being within the Olympics, you recognize? So it’s really been a bit tougher for me to search out the motivation to maintain going the final couple of years.”
Nonetheless, she led the tour championship standings in each 2022 and 2023 till the final day, dropping head-to-head championship matches. It was a brand new format that the league launched to construct pleasure. It doubtless stored Moore from being a seven-time champion and successful 4 in a row on her manner out.
“I might have liked to have received a world title after which dropped the mic and walked away,” she stated. “I might have liked the fairy story ending.”
Moore arrived at Pipeline. The waves have been pumping, and he or she excused herself.
“I’m human — I don’t have all the things found out,” she stated. “I’m flowing and feeling and studying as I am going. I’m following my coronary heart. And the unknown is freaking scary. However I’m additionally excited. There isn’t any such factor as the tip till you’re within the floor.”
After which she was gone, into the ocean.
‘It Was Arduous to Give Myself That Reward’
It may be a cliché, a public-relations volley, an completed athlete beginning a basis. However it could actually additionally sign an inside reversal, a personal acknowledgment that championship success can include diminishing returns. Most well-known athletes don’t wish to admit it.
Moore began Moore Aloha in 2018 when she was within the psychological and motivational doldrums, coming off her worst season and looking for that means. Six years later, Moore Aloha could also be a post-career touchdown pad.
The charity is geared towards women and girls, constructing self-awareness and neighborhood. The objectives are free. The mission is to not save whales or remedy most cancers. It’s about “wellness, mindfulness and friendship” via occasions and workshops.
Every month, Moore Aloha solicits essays via a immediate. The current one: “Take into consideration probably the most outstanding problem forward of you in 2024 and the way you propose to embrace it.” One of the best essay can be rewarded with $200.
The prompts generally function two-way remedy.
“One of many essays was for them to jot down a letter of affection to themselves,” Moore stated. “And I used to be actually struggling. I used to be in Australia. I used to be taking a look at myself within the mirror daily, simply selecting myself aside and simply — simply unhappy at myself.”
She wrote an essay. She put herself within the place of the ladies she was making an attempt to encourage.
“It was actually, actually troublesome,” Moore stated. “It was actually troublesome to be, like, hey, you’ve nice arms — they’re nice for hugging folks. And you’ve got a smile that brightens your room. It was laborious. It was laborious to present myself that reward. I don’t know why I wrestle with it. However I believe I’m looking for these issues which are simply actual and truthful, the issues that individuals can’t take away.”
Stepping away from the construction of a world browsing tour in all probability means receiving much less direct adoration or affirmation. The sports activities world is crammed with well-known champions who struggled to search out goal or seize what they left behind of their youth.
Moore and Untermann have been strolling their two canine not too long ago in Honolulu, when Untermann questioned aloud about Moore returning to competitors after having kids. Moore is open to the thought, not understanding how she’s going to really feel within the years forward.
She named Serena Williams, Ashleigh Barty and Allyson Felix, who all stepped away on the prime of their sports activities to start out households, as inspirations. A better connection could be to Kimi Werner, a free diver who grew up on Maui. She can be a champion spearfisher, a chef, an environmentalist and public speaker.
“Considered one of her overarching themes is being genuine, and following your genuine journey,” Moore stated. “It usually seems higher than you might have ever imagined and brings you extra alternatives and success than you’d have had in case you stored staying in a single house.”
In October, after her disappointing second-place end and the missed alternative to “drop the mic,” Moore stored her plans secret from all however these closest to her. She held an occasion for Moore Aloha in Hawaii, speaking to ladies about objectives and fears and being weak. Moore needs to present permission for all of that, in a world the place it’s not all the time inspired.
“I had three or 4 ladies come up and cry to me, in tears, saying ‘I actually wanted at the present time. I had no thought you have been going via the identical issues that I’m going via,’” Moore stated.
She added: “If that’s what comes of this, to assist another person know that they’re not alone — oh my, gosh, that’s the largest success. That helps them know that they will maintain going, that they will face their fears or they will overcome and create a life that they envision for themselves. That’s the dream, actually.”
Quickly, Moore was again on her surfboard, at Pipeline, questioning what the subsequent wave would deliver and whether or not she had the braveness to catch it.