Depression & my own self-limiting beliefs from being a tomboy

The dark states we find ourselves in from time-to-time should be shared. Communication and openness is a wonderful healer & I’m incredibly grateful to have this platform to talk from. Inaccurately perceived as always strong, never vulnerable, and living a dream life, I wanted to share the dark place I’ve been in the last month in the hope that my openness may help someone else going through the same thing.


I have always been one of the boys. I distinctly remember my brother getting stink bombs in his Christmas stocking and me getting something from the Tesco beauty section. I felt incredibly short-changed and upset. The girlie stuff just didn’t interest me. Why did my brother get the cool stuff?


My first love and arguably the biggest love of my life, is snowboarding. It has been all-consuming from age 11. To this day, it shapes my identity, dictates where and what I spent my hard-earned money on, and to a certain extent, it styles my look: high performance, multi-use, sportswear, where comfort and practicality come before fashion. One might joke that I resemble a walking advert for an outdoor retailer!


Last weekend, on a night out, a good friend said to me, “Alexa, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you out of your high-performance outerwear”. Fuck. Really? Yeah, that’s probably true. Although we all laughed and it was delivered as a warm and loving compliment, it made me feel sad. The following week, I began to feel so lonely and isolated in my tomboy identity. I planned a personal re-brand, spent $500 on two Spell & The Gypsy items, and immersed my depression in the ocean, surfing 9 times in the week, around 9-5 work hours. I felt like a fish out of water. The fish being me, and the water being the image-conscious expectations of the fashion-focused beach town where I live. I wanted to run away. I think I wanted to drown.


Deep down, I feel that as a girl, doing my own thing, dressing in what makes me feel comfortable and strong, I am never going to be good enough. Thirty-four and single is enough evidence of that. Maybe these expensive feminine clothes will help? Maybe I’ll just stay in the ocean until past dark and never come in. It’s safer out here in the dark where I’m not being judged.


It’s all too easy to look at other people’s lives and think they’ve got it all sorted. Social media fuels that belief with the carefully curated imagery and empty, meaningless ‘spring has sprung’, and ‘rolling into Wednesday” commentary (seriously, what does that even mean?). It’s easy to assume when reading stories of perceived strong people with beautifully curated images and personal brands, that they also don’t feel insecure about their body, the way they look, or how their life is panning out. The toughest of us also feel vulnerable. I am no different. At the moment she chose to wear a man’s suit to a high-profile event to communicate her deep sadness and desire to “resist the standards of Hollywood…and the standards of dressing to impress”, Lady Gaga is no different. You are no different. This doctor who courageously published this letter to young doctors contemplating suicide like he once did, is no different (please read this letter and then read comment 30). Your guy friends are no different. We are all going through the same shit.


One of the motivations for starting Still Stoked was to show younger girls that it’s OK to be different. To celebrate the women that are paving the way and give them and all of us a voice, so the next generation can reside in a world which celebrates diversity and individuality. I wanted to create and curate the stories that I wished were available when I was a kid. Stories that told me it was OK to be a woman in the outdoors, a surfer, a female mountain guide, an explorer, a dreamer – not just a wife, a pawn in the game of 9-5, a commodity in a man’s world… a walking f**king uterus. But sometimes like this week, I feel small, worthless, and not good enough.


Not good enough for what? Well that’s the question, isn’t it?


From a young age, we are taught by society to be submissive. To be feminine. To not be too successful or you’ll make a man feel small. To seek a husband to ‘look after us’. That the norm is to give up a career to have children. That you can’t possibly have both or you are a bad mother. All of those things I have fought against. All of those things make anger surge up in my very bones and inspire me to action. These expectations pre-determine the path of a woman and take away her choice. Our choice.


This week, I was feeling the ultimate consequences of my choices. That I’ll be turning 35 next year, probably up a mountain, somewhere remote, or traveling alone. That my ambition to explore and play in remote locations, to become a strong female role model, create and live and breathe those same stories that I yearned for as a young girl, has meant that I will probably never have children. That if I want ‘it all’ – a home, a partner, a family, I’ll have to give up what I love most, ‘snowboarding’, at the high level to which I do it. That maybe if I was prettier, or girlier, quieter, or more feminine, I wouldn’t have to worry about these things because more options would be open to me. That if I was just a little more submissive, or visibly vulnerable, men wouldn’t be so intimidated by my independence and ambition. That if I wasn’t the authentic version of myself, that just might be enough.


So I did what I always do when these negative, debilitating thoughts enter my mind. I fall to my yoga mat. I meditate. I repeat my mantra of “I am enough” over and over with each breath in, and each breath out. I cry. I buy things I don’t need. I think, “it’s going to be OK”. I tell myself if it’s meant to be, it will all happen. I open myself up to the universe. I let it go.


Until next time.


So, I want anyone reading this, that may also feel this way from time-to-time, to know that the women you look up to, the girls I look up to, they all have days like this. That guys feel like this too. That it’s good to talk about these things with each other and together with this open communication, we can promote the change that society needs, to alter the cultural expectations that breed these feelings. We need to redefine exactly what ‘enough’ is and keep it open-ended so we can all be whatever we want to be. There are many different types of beauty and all of them have a place and should be celebrated.


Chasing a dream is never easy, but if you go far enough, it will set you free. 



Today I’m doing much better. Writing this helped and so did perspective. So here are some of the women that inspire me. On days like today, their strength and vision for a world where everyone can freely be the most authentic version of themselves, helps me make sense of my own self-limiting beliefs.


Freestyle Snowboarding pioneer Tara Dakides – my biggest inspiration (thank you Tara)

Tara Dakides snowboarder



Keala Kennelly hid her sexuality for the majority of her surfing career in fear she would lose endorsements. Now one of the world’s best big wave surfers, she beat all the men for the XXL barrel of the year award in 2016, Keala is a fierce advocate for women athletes & LGBT rights & a true badass. Forever blowing my mind. 
Keala Kennelly surfer



Elissa Steamer – the only girl in the skate videos I watched growing up. A pioneer, she paved the way & would have inspired generations of both girls and boys. Respect.
Skateboarder Elissa Steamer



Captain Liz Clarke – Liz has been sailing the world alone in search of surf since departing California in 2006. One of the world’s most committed surfers, she has been fearless in the pursuit of her dreams, at huge personal cost but also at an immense spiritual gain. She recently published a book Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening as a memoir. It is a wonderful, heart-warming read that I can not recommend enough. 

Captain Liz Clarke
Photo taken from Liz’s personal collection on her website



Serena Williams needs no introduction. Serena has been called everything under the sun, too strong, too big, too black, too manly. She continues to blow our minds with what she is capable of. A mother with 23 grand slams, and counting. Queen.

Serena Williams body. Strong is Beautiful
Photo by Norman Jean Roy for New York Magazine


Lacey Baker -one of the best female skaters in the world and an advocate for breaking down gender barriers.

Lacey Baker skateboarder gay rights
Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein


Thank you for reading x

Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream. I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)


  1. You’re definitely not alone Alexa! You’ll remember a couple of years ago me writing about my depression and it was people like you picking me back up, telling me I can be ok.
    So can you! It’s a difficult place but trust me when I say there are so many of us that think what you do is just incredible.
    The saddest thing that could happen would you not being your authentic self. I dress like a 16 year old skater boy most the time. It still bothers me the comments I sometimes get but what would bother me more would be wearing something that makes me uncomfortable just to please others.
    Anyway… I understand how you’re feeling, and it will get better. Thank you for being so open and honest. It is always so difficult and you’ve been so brave to write about it.
    You’re loved, you’re an inspiration and you are you (which is f**king awesome)! x

  2. Alexa, you are amazing. The number of times when I have been feeling the same as you and I have thought of you and many of my other strong, independent, adventurous female friends who are all in their 30’s and single and thought “What the feck is wrong with the world? Why are we all single? Why are we looked up to by so many people and yet live in these worlds of isolation and loneliness?” I still don’t get it, it still angers me. After 17 years of being single I’ve finally found someone who loves me for who I am. I tried being more feminine, I tried wearing something other than adventure clothing, I tried to be this different me that I thought the world wanted me to be. What a waste of time and effort. I can’t thank you enough for this platform, we need more of this in our world and if you ever want me to contribute something just let me know. Big love dude x

    • Awww Heather – Thank you so much for your kind words girl. You have always been a massive inspiration to me… we have known each other for so so long! I’m always so stoked on what you are up to and your successes mountain biking. So good to hear you have met someone that is bringing such joy into your life. Hopefully, see you soon when I come back to the Alpes. Keep inspiring others and thanks again for your kind words on Still Stoked. It’s words like these that keep me going! x

  3. I hear you on the “living in performance gear”! This is me whenever I’m not at the office, where I’m a COO and have to dress to fit the part. I’d still rather be in my performance clothing though! 45 and single, and 99% of the time it’s exactly where I’m happy! Adventuring! I’m a snowmobiler, snowbiker, dirt biker, mountain biker, street biker, hiker, photographer wanna be and avid traveler.. I spend quite a bit of time alone and when I want companionship I’m lucky enough to have a great tribe to call on. Life is amazingly full and for me, it is enough.

    • Hey Brandy, Thanks so much for reading – I wished we worked together. We could rock the down jackets in the office! haha. YOu sound like you live a full and exciting life. So good. Enjoy every second xxx

  4. Alexa and fellow readers,
    Thank you for writing a beautiful piece which speaks to my heart. I will be 36 in March. In May I will defend my dissertation for a Phd. I surf, SUP, mountain bike, ski, practice yoga, and have many more adventure sports on my list to try when I have the funds. But…I’ve been chronically single for nearly 10 years. I also worry that my dedication to my career means I won’t be ready to have children before 40.

    I believe we struggle because we are trail blazers. We refuse to “follow the rules”, but then we feel lost without them. We often waste our mental energy on judging our present and worrying for the future. However, we are the future, women who take charge, lead, and pioneer new trails.

    Throughout my PhD journey, I have felt very alone. I live alone, I studied alone, I wrote alone, I slept alone, and I envied all the women around me who had family close by or a partner by their side. I loathed the city I live in because of the lack of adventure culture. I only found male buddies, my girl friends’ husbands to surf, bike, and explore with. Or I went alone. I longed for my Oregonian culture where adventuring is part of life whether you’re a woman or man.

    I was even isolated from other women who assumed I was out to steal their man and questioned my motives in going surfing with a group of married men. Furious, I wanted to scorn them for not being like me. “If you would just learn to surf, I wouldn’t be alone.”

    But in my 35th year, I began a new practice of returning to the present. When I begin to fear I will never find a partner and have kids, I recognize it, acknowledge my fear, and look at the beauty of in front of me. Then, I do the next right thing for myself one stepping stone at a time. I take this practice with me on a long bike ride, in the ocean, into writing for publication, and even my 100+ page dissertation.
    A dear friend recently said to me, “You’ve made it this far. I don’t think the Universe is going to suddenly drop you now.” He’s right, my life is really full of joy, love, and fun.

    Still, I would like to have it all. All the THINGS! Adventure, prestige in my profession, a partner, a family, a house and a dog, but all this will happen in its own time. We are healthier (physically and spiritually) than our mothers. We will live longer lives. I have a dear friend seems to have it all. She had her first child just a month before her 40th birthday. Her partner is supportive as a father and a spouse. She continues to travel and spent 3 weeks in Guatemala this past summer while he took care of their 1-year old girl. I’m proud of the example she is setting for her daughter. I am also grateful for the hope and inspiration she is to me.

    There’s no reason to lose faith now. I am walking my path and all I can do is one step at a time. I am so reassured to know I am not the only one blazing new trails. We can do it!

  5. Thanks so much for your honest post!
    You’ve been an inspiration for me (and for sure many other women) form the day I found Still Stoked and through that online presence you help spreading that inspiring image and voice of you!! Keep doing it please :)

  6. Thank you so much for writing this, I’ve never read something like this to someone I looked up to before. I grew up being a tomboy as well and for a bit I wished I was a boy because it would made my life so much easier. I wanted to be a pro skate boarder, a pro hockey player, I just wanted to play every sport growing up. I still play hockey in college and surf in my spare time. I’ve been struggling with the thought that I’m not feminine enough because I wear workout clothes and sweatpants all the time and have been for quite some time but every time I wear something I wouldn’t normally wear, it feels so uncomfortable and I don’t feel like myself. As an athlete I am really hard on myself so on top of dealing with mental health, I’ve had some pretty rough days so I’ve always worried that I’m too intense or too competitive for any guy to like me, I’ve gotten some backhanded compliments that “it’s weird how fit you are” that make me sometimes question the muscles I work so hard for. I’m glad to have a reminder that I’m not the only one because I forget that too often.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here