This week on Small Talk, we sat down with Boo Johnson, a professional skateboarder known for just having fun, to chat about self-expression, simplifying, and riding our wave of weirdness.
Background on Boo
Boo Johnson was born and raised in the small desert town of Tehachapi, California. With little to do and time to spare, sports became his greatest form of entertainment.
“There wasn’t too much going on out there, so I found myself playing all of the typical sports, basketball, baseball, soccer, riding bikes. I even rollerbladed and scootered at one point, and then my mom and pops got me a skateboard. I played around with it, but I didn’t really catch on to it until I was probably fourteen. And then I was like, ‘y’know what; this is actually pretty tight.”
Not having a coach telling him what to do or how to skate, Boo picked up the art of skating on his own, and from dusk, till dawn, it was just himself and his skateboard.
“Summertime was the best because I would skate from 7 am until my mom made me come inside. I think when I was about seventeen, that’s when I really started doing my thing. I had several sponsors, and I was like, ‘yo, this might be it.”
In 2016, by the age of twenty-two, through his tireless devotion and pure-blooded passion for the sport, Boo Jonson turned his love for skateboarding into a professional career.
“The whole upcoming of my skateboarding was weird because the grind and the hustle was everything, but I kind of got bashed coming into the skate world because it was a white boys sport. But it was sick nonetheless; I’ve got nothing but passion for skateboarding. I think it was meant to be.”
When we have a deep sense of longing within ourselves towards an art, a sport, or a craft, and we act on it, more often than not, we find that our obsession takes form in our physical lives and our professional careers.
“You have no choice, honestly. You fiend for it, you wake up thinking about it, you go to sleep thinking about it. It becomes your life.”
Just Have Fun
Boo Johnson represents and embodies the idea and the act of Just Having Fun, with a clothing line to go along with it.
We wanted to know what having fun means to Boo.
“I think having fun is doing whatever you have passion for and whatever brings you excitement, happiness and keeps you grounded.”
Having fun in our lives holds great importance, but incorporating it into our careers may be more crucial than we’ve been led to believe.
“When I first started skateboarding, it was all about just having fun, and when I got sponsored, it was almost like a job. I had to take a step back and remember why I started skateboarding in the first place. I loved it, it made me feel good, and it kept me on my ten toes, but at the end of the day, it was fun.”
In taking a step back and reconnecting with what brought him on the board in the first place, Boo was able to re-ignite his flame and remember that at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun.
“That’s why I had to go back to my roots and remind myself that no matter what we do, no matter how intense it gets, we’ve got to understand that it’s all about having fun. Whether your rock climbing, riding your bike, taking photos, or hanging out with friends, the base of it all is that we’re out here trying to have fun and enjoy these moments that we create day by day.”
We often find ourselves competing, comparing, and turning what was once enjoyable into a chore or a competition. As mentioned in our interview with Kevin Love, once we allow ourselves to get back to our roots and savor each moment, the process itself becomes more enjoyable than the outcome.
“This life is so hectic, it’s a rat race, and everyone’s trying to do this, and be better than that person, and max out over here. People forget to go back to themselves and get grounded. Many people don’t have the mentality of slowing down and fail to realize that it’s good to go slow. It’s good to take your time and understand why you’re doing this and why you started. There’s got to be a reason behind any intention you have in life. And for me, it’s really about having fun, bro.”
Going Against the GrainBoo Johnson, if you can’t already tell, fearlessly expresses himself in everything he does. Having quoted, ‘I think being different, going against the grain of society, is the greatest thing in the world.’
It leaves us to wonder why so many people choose to step into their lives as anything but themselves.
“Honestly, I think it's social media, TV, the news; it’s a lot of shit that gets people drafted away from their actual personalities and their souls. They feel like they need to top other people, and there’s so much influence out there that people think they have to be better than the next person just to be noticed. When in reality, none of its real.”
We must begin to leave our fears of judgment and criticism at the door and step through to the other side as the truest expressions of ourselves.
“You’ve got to be the best you that you can be. Especially with mental health, people literally go into these dark holes because they don’t like being themselves. They don’t look like their favorite celebrities, so they don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror. Whatever it is, people lack confidence when in reality, all they need is right in front of them.”
With social media trends and impossible benchmarks, countless people hold themselves to unreachable standards. Trends change overnight, and what the digital world considers to be beautiful changes just as quickly.
We need to look at ourselves, just as we are, and know that it doesn’t get better than this.
“You’ve got to just look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I’m f**king awesome and I’m beautiful.’ People lack on gassing their own selves up, and they’ve got to understand that being different, that’s the wave, that’s what’s cool.”
The truth is it takes time to fully appreciate ourselves for all that we are. For many of us, years have been spent in a state of self-judgment and criticism. It won’t happen overnight, but day by day, we can introduce self-appreciation and slowly but surely, begin to accept ourselves for all that we are.
“Since we were kids, we’ve been introduced to different styles and trends and led to believe that this was cool and that wasn’t. It’s hard, and I understand, but that’s why we’re here, and that’s why we’re talking because we gotta let kids know that it’s cool to be weird, it’s cool to be different, it’s cool to have your own style. Just run with it. Don’t look to anyone for advice or approval, do exactly what you want in this world and run with it. That’s what’s going to make you the happiest person in the world, or at least the happiest you that you could be.”
“Everyone is so grounded, everyone has a different style, and I think it’s just unique how people come together and are able to relate just because of a piece of wood.”
Skateboarding is a very individual sport with no teammates; it’s just the skater and the board. Yet, for anyone who’s ever been to a skatepark, they would know that the sport has a way of connecting people and creating a sense of community like none other.
“I love that you acknowledge that. Skating is beautiful, and it connects people from all around the world. We understand what’s going on when we jump on that board. We understand that when you fall, you’ve gotta get back up and try again.”
With skaters coming from Brazil, China, Japan, Los Angeles, and all over the world to compete and have fun, mutual respect and a communal bond is formed among the skaters.
“Everyone comes from different backgrounds, black, white, yellow, whatever it is, we’re all here for the same thing, and we have an understanding and respect for where we come from and where our journey is heading.”
Rarely do we find sacred spaces where support and encouragement are offered to those who share the same passions we do, especially when those sharing the same passions are your competition.
“Any other sport, the athletes are hating on each other and trying to one-up the other person. Skaters just love each other so much! Like someone will do a trick and the whole park is like, ‘yo, that was so steezy,’ or ‘his style is so cool, those pants fit him so nice!’ It’s just all these compliments and so much loving engagement. It’s crazy; it's honestly just a very loving and passionate community, straight up.”
Ride or Die Resilience
“I’ve damn near cried because I couldn’t land a trick. But at the end of the day, once you land that one trick, it’s all worth it.”
In Skateboarding, you fall and get back up, and fall again and get back up a hundredth time. With cuts and bruises by the end of the day, skaters have a unique and admirable resilience.
“It’s the passion. It all comes down to passion. Falling is part of the sport, and getting back up is part of life. It’s just part of the game. You’ve got to take baby steps; you’ve got to learn how to fall and how to get back up. And it just builds your character, and it builds you as a person.”
A skateboarder falling can be one of the most painful things to see and all the more painful to experience. But at the end of the day, cuts, scrapes, and bruises are nothing for pro skaters, and the battle wounds and scars are part of the package they signed up for.
“I’m so tough because of skateboarding. I don’t give myself any pity. When I’m out there, I’m going back-to-back, just working on my endurance. Sometimes I don’t even drink water until I land a trick because I’m like, ‘Nah, I gotta earn this.’ So, I think the root of it is within your heart. If you’re a skateboarder and you’ve got passion for it, it’s just part of the game.”
As mentioned in our interview with Nathan Chen, falling is part of the sport, and getting back up is the commitment to the craft. When we find ourselves on the ground, the only option left is to persevere if we want to overcome whatever obstacle we’ve come to face.
“I’ve seen skaters bug out and break their boards because they couldn’t land a trick. Whatever their case is, just know that the next day, they’re coming back with a fresh board ready to try that trick again.”
Strength in Stumbling
“I’ve been through my highs and my lows, and it’s all been beautiful. It’s all strengthened me to be the best Boo J that I can be. At the end of the day, it is what it is, and it’s all beautiful.”
In times such as these, with chaos and turmoil being experienced globally, many people may feel as if they’re stumbling through these next steps in their lives. Yet, as mentioned in many of our interviews, the tough times that knock us down make us stronger when we get back up.
“Honestly, like, last year and the beginning of this year was super tough. My grandma passed away, my little sister passed, my storage got robbed, I got in a car accident, I busted my knee and had to have surgery, and this was all in the span of six months. But you’ve got to just keep it going; it’s part of life. I’m twenty-eight, I’ve had tragedies, I’ve lost loads of homies, and its f**king hard, it is. But life goes on, and you’ve just got to live for everyone and live for yourself and know that life can be taken from you at any second.”
It takes a great deal of strength to push forwards in times of uncertainty, especially in times of loss and sorrow. Our hearts go out to the countless tragedies that have happened in our friends' lives and in the world this past year. But seeing the strength and bravery birthed through pain and misfortune is breathtakingly beautiful and inspiring beyond belief.
“Like I was saying earlier, just be the best you. Elevate in every which way you can, learn everything you can, give people hugs, tell people you love them because life is a beautiful struggle. It is what it is, and everyone gets dealt shitty cards, and it’s just the journey of life. We’re human, and we’re blessed even to be born at the end of the day.”
“One of my good friends, Torey Pudwill, came over to my house, and I keep my house very clean and neat, and he explained to me how when he came into my house, he felt very clear-headed. And it’s true, when your space is simplified; it allows you to grow and see what needs to be done instead of everything being cluttered. It’s like your mind. When your space is filled with bullshit that doesn’t need to be there, you’re going to be on bullshit and end up in places that you don’t need to be.”
Our environments are extensions of ourselves.
Simplifying our lives holds great importance. We don’t need 100 people giving us opinions, just one or two loyal friends will do. We don’t need a list of plans; just one or two things that make us happy will do. When we clutter our lives with unnecessary baggage, we find ourselves drifting and distracted.
“If everything’s cleared up, you’re going to have a clear mind and be able to visualize what’s next in life. So, just being clean and simplifying what you have in life, I think, will bring you more in the future and bring more of what you want into the present.”
In simplifying our surroundings and our environments, we leave space for what really matters.
“Just surround yourself with light, love, passion, and all that good shit, y’know?”
No Longer Pursue
What’s meant for me will come. What I need is right in front of me. I think that temptation kind of sent me off track a couple of times, whether with drugs, females, or bad situations, and thinking it was cool. But it all comes back to simplicity. If I could preach it all day, I would. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.”
We asked Boo Johnson what he knows 100% to be true, his answer…
“I would want to say that there’s more love than negativity in this world. I think that’s my truth, and I think that’s a fact. Of course, humans, we get super greedy and selfish, but at the end of the day, I think most of us want positivity and love over negativity and hate.”
At TrooMe, we believe that the setbacks are simply opportunities in disguise. And that each fall is a chance for us to get back up, stronger and smarter than before.
May we follow in Boo Johnson's footsteps, pursuing our passions until we reach purpose, making fun our number one priority, and believing wholeheartedly that love surrounds us every step of the way.