Tania Cruz – From The Inside Out

It’s a small world and, in our case, skateboarding is the common denominator where we all cross paths. Tania Cruz arrived in Spain back in 2019, leaving behind her homeland of La Rioja (Argentina) and everything that life and skateboarding had to offer there.
It’s been three years and, since then, she literally hasn’t stopped skating. She’s got an uncommon disposition and determination: you might see her skate the crustiest spot she can find and slam in every way possible, always fast, confident and with a smile on her face. She’s fun, she has a sweet tooth and she’s a good friend to many. If it rains and she can’t skate, then her best plan might just be to look for lesser-known spots around town or stay at home eating chocolate pancakes.
It’s 8pm on a Tuesday. As we said before, the world is very small, and here we are: Raisa (Pontevedra, Spain), Scarlett (Concepción, Chile), and the main character of our story today, Tania (La Rioja, Argentina). Cookies, doughnuts and croissants, what better way to start this interview?

Interview by Raisa Abal and Scarlett Figueroa.
Photography by Gerard Riera.

Hey Tania! Tell us, what do you do when you’re not skating?
I’m a plant lady! I’ve been learning a lot about plants and planting a lot… Otherwise, it depends. I’ve been trying out new things, for example, I bought myself a sewing machine, though that’s not really my thing, ha ha. I’m also going to drumming classes!
I’ve also started studying English in my free time a year ago, so I was really enjoying staying at home, chilling, studying and drinking maté. Now that I’m a bit better at it (nothing special though, but at least I can chat with guys ha ha ha), I started learning Italian too.

Any special reason for that? Would you like to visit Italy?
Yes, it would be cool to learn about its language and culture! I would love to go there for a couple of months or something like that. Although I’m sure that after a month I’ll want to come back home and be alone. I love being alone.

Tell us why, do you feel like your solitude is precious?
Yes, in fact, it’s one of the most valuable things for me.
When I’m not skating, I’m really into making plans just with myself! I really enjoy doing stuff around the house by myself: watching documentaries, and movies, cooking, taking care of my plants, playing the drums… All of it, alone.

Frontside hurricane, Pineda.

It’s not like you want to be alone all of the time, but rather like, your loneliness means a lot to you.
Yeah. I think that skateboarding is a lot about socialising all the time, being surrounded by a lot of stimuli all the time: friends, new people, skateparks… You’re always surrounded by others. I love to skate all day every day, so, when I’m not skating, I need to reconnect with myself. Oh wait! I know what I like to do when I’m not skating: I like PLANNING. I plan out and have lists for everything: what I’m doing that day, that week, my list for three months from now, my list for one year from now, getting my visa issued, organising everything… When you get it done, you feel like oufh, inner peace.

Since it’s so important for you to plan out everything, do you think that, through that organisation, you can control the future? Do you feel capable of everything if you plan it out in advance?
Totally. If I look at my lists from the past, everything I had written in there is done. Every time I reach a goal, I set myself up for a new one. For me, having goals and dreams to chase is what keeps me going. The fun part is that, the closer you get to the finish line, unexpected doors start opening, like in a game. The first time you say it out loud, it sounds like something really difficult and distant, but if you divide the path in front of you into smaller steps and every day you do a little bit, every day you keep going forward and getting closer. It’s as if you were eating a really big cake that you can’t eat all at once: if you eat a little bit every time, you’ll end up eating the whole thing. It’s definitely what keeps me going.

What about when you reach your goals, do you enjoy it or does it ever happen that you’ve been so focused on it, that you take it for granted?
Of course, I enjoy it, because I enjoy the process so much. I don’t really stress over it.

Even though it can be a difficult process, does the result make you feel good, or do you already have your mind set on the next goal?
I think I enjoy everything. Even if it’s intense and difficult – in fact, I enjoy it way more if it’s difficult. Sacrifices are worth it. But I don’t consider anything to be a sacrifice if you enjoy the process. The hardest thing for me is to be patient. For example, when it comes to issuing my Spanish visa, this is something that didn’t depend on me so much; the target was to have my legal documents, so this goal could be divided into some smaller steps, some quicker than others. I don’t stress over it, because I do whatever I can, whatever is on me; and I don’t despair over the things that don’t depend on me, because it’s not in my hands. In the meantime, I do whatever it is that depends on me. Patience is definitely something I’ve worked on since moving to Barcelona. Learning to deal with the fact that some things don’t depend on you, so you shouldn’t let it get you down.

Do you open up to new people easily, or do you consider yourself to be more selective? Is it hard to get your trust?
Yes, it’s really hard (everyone laughs)! I’m very selective; I let barely anyone in on my personal life. In fact, if I go skating, I’m very sociable, but I don’t let just anyone in my personal life. I feel that I’m really sensitive and emotional. Especially being so far away and having to choose my family, my bonds are very valuable, since I need to take care of myself. Everything and everyone around you has something to contribute to your life, and that’s super important for me. I like having a small circle of people who really care for me. I’ve felt more vulnerable here, and when you choose the people around you poorly, everything gets infected. I’m really thankful for the people I have close to me.

Frontside boardslide, Barcelona.

What roles do these people have?
They’re very important, after all, they’re the family that I’ve chosen. I also learned to let go of bad relationships, even family ones.

How do you express your love towards the people that you love?
By making pancakes! Ha ha ha. I don’t really express it with words. Since I was little, in my house, we didn’t say ‘I love you’ often, so that took a little getting used to. I don’t think I need to say it loads either, because I think I’m really good at doing things that demonstrate my love, that’s my way of saying it. And making pancakes, of course.

Little by little, you start expressing it more openly ha ha ha. Any story that shaped you into the person you are today?
I would say that what made me into a new person, that moment of ‘up until then I was somebody, and then I became someone else’ was a moment when someone really close to me passed away. Before that, when I was little, I used to read the Bible every day. I was a super religious Bible-reading-freak. I even went on religious trips, but after that, I just threw all those things out and forgot about it. This switch brought me a lot of good and bad things because I started trying to get things off my chest by partying, but, thanks to that, I got introduced to skateboarding. That was like a transition. Unconsciously, I needed to let go of the pain and anger that I felt, so, when I started skating, I stopped partying and started getting things off my chest by skating. I skated all day and didn’t think about anything else. It was like a game to me, like getting away from reality.

Fakie 5-0 transfer, Santa Perpetua.

Is that still so?
Yes, but in a different way. My way of looking at skateboarding has changed a little. It’s still the most important part of my life and what I love doing the most, but before I just wanted to skate and would literally do nothing else. Now, I enjoy exploring, trying out and learning new things, etc. For instance, at the moment I’m really motivated to play the drums and learn about plants, but I am yet to find something that gives me the same feeling of satisfaction and happiness as skateboarding.

Did you ever imagine that you could get to where you are right now just by skateboarding?
Not at all, because it used to be just a way to escape: I didn’t want to be home, because I was 15 and had a bunch of family issues. I would take my board and go out all day: gone in the morning and back by nighttime. I would sleep, then go out again. I didn’t want to think about anything that wasn’t skating. I loved it because it allowed me to forget about everything else and it became addictive.

Was there a point in your life where you realised you wanted to just skate?
Never. I mean, yes, but not like, living off skating, but rather skating every day. There was a moment where I realised I would rather rest and not go out to party so that I could skate the next day. I realised I wanted to skate always, that it was what I really wanted to do because it makes me happy. Yes, I wanted to skate, but on my own, with no ambitions.

How was your learning process when you started skating? Was it difficult?
At first, I would get laughed at, because I pushed mongo, and I was a girl! Not to mention the problems I had at home… For me, skating was something intimate and private. It wasn’t so much about going skating with friends. At the start, it was something that was just mine, something I really enjoyed doing by myself. I would do it on the sidewalk in front of my house because we didn’t even have decent flat ground anywhere near. I remember I spent like six months skating in front of my house. I was too embarrassed to go to the skatepark, everything was too big for me: quarters, banks and humongous rails. One day I dropped off the bank and crashed into a boy, flew for like ten metres onto the ground, and I didn’t go back for a long time.
When I started skating around 2012, there was a boom in skateboarding. My younger sister skated, and in four months she could already ollie, frontside ollie and kickflip, whereas I was still learning how to ollie. The boys would make fun of me and laugh at my ollies. They said I only skated because it was trendy and because I wanted the boys to like me – not like they were that good looking ha ha ha!
By that time I had a group of friends and that’s when I started skating with other people besides my sister. But I would normally be taking a bus and going to the skatepark, which was located in the most dangerous neighbourhood; I would go at 5am or 7am, so that no one would see me. I would skate by myself for hours.

Ride-on, 50-50 Barcelona.

What was the first trick you landed?
Pop shove-it.

Ours was the Fakie Pop Shove-it! Ha ha ha…
Ha ha ha ha!

And then you learned the Blunt 270?

Tell us about the hardest slam you’ve taken that you can’t forget about, or something you’ve done that you were terrified of. What comes to your head?
In life in general, I can’t think of anything, I’m super brave, ha ha. Maybe living in my neighbourhood in Argentina… That’s constant adrenaline! Ha ha ha.
But a slam? This one (she points to her chin, full of stitches) is unforgettable because I wasn’t even skating. It was surreal… Want me to tell you what happened? I got to the bar, was gonna have a beer with some friends, I felt good… I was outside of the bar with Schianta and Martino. I smoked a cigarette, went inside to order a beer and the waiter told me something I couldn’t understand. I was super dizzy at this point, I don’t know what I replied to him, I told him I was going to the bathroom, I took two steps, and, suddenly, I woke up. The lights had gone out in my head.

How long were you unconscious for?
Around two minutes. I woke up as if I was waking up from a nap and I felt a spoon in my mouth and my friends were around me saying, ‘Tania, Tania, Tania’… And that’s when I realised I had passed out. They gave me water and I started to feel little pieces of tooth floating in my mouth… I stood up, super dizzy and sore. I saw a little bit of blood on the ground. I had just severed my chin. They called an ambulance and there was a whole drama going on (I just wanted to forget what just happened and have a beer, but they wouldn’t let me)… I was immediately sent to the hospital and everything was fine. The worst part was that I thought I had lost my front teeth, and I was really scared because I don’t have the money to fix them, ha ha ha!

Yeah, not to mention waking up bleeding on the floor, without knowing what happened. Let’s talk about nice things now. What do you consider your biggest achievement? Something you’re really proud of.
My biggest achievement has been learning how to love myself and take care of myself. I always had a lot of freedom and independence, but I didn’t know how to use them. I even got off track a little and was self-destructive for a while.

Learning is important, isn’t it? In order to grow, you need to self-destruct a little, so that you understand what it is you want, how you want to see yourself and what you need in order to take care of yourself. Each one of us has our own process and we all have to learn.
The important thing is to not remain in that self-destructive feedback loop forever. And to know yourself. I feel like this is constant because we change all the time and we can’t have it under control all the time. When I got here, something clicked in my head, because all I had was myself. I didn’t have another option but to look inwards and get to know myself.
I think I thought I had it all under control at some point, but then it all came crashing down on me again. Nowadays, even if the same kinds of situations happen to me, I will not act the same way I did before. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what happens, or what others are doing, what matters is the way I react. I’m very proud of the person I am now, everything I went through and the lessons I learned. It’s a constant learning process, of course, but maybe I wouldn’t do the same before. I think I was a bit crazy before getting here, then for two years I focused on my tranquillity and introspection, and now I’ve found a balance.

Are you impulsive?
Am I impulsive? Yes. When I moved over here, I just decided that’s what I wanted to do, and came. It wasn’t at all in my plans, I was supposed to finish my university degree in Nutrition and stay in Argentina, but…

And what about your biggest failure, what would you say it was?
The exact opposite of what we just said. My biggest failure was to forget myself. I was in a super toxic relationship with someone, my worst nightmare. One of the worst things I’ve experienced, but that happened in the best moment of my life.
I would have dealt with it terribly if it had happened at another time in life. It happened when everything started working out with skateboarding and I had some opportunities. So I was feeling really good and focused, everything was going well for me, except for my relationship.
Besides that, from the outside, it looked like everything was going well for me, but in fact I was devastated. We lived together and nobody knew what truly went on in that house. The fact that it happened at that moment gave me something to hold on to, a reason to come out of it stronger. ‘I don’t feel well, but I need to get up and do all this.’ I didn’t have anything yet, but I saw all of my dreams coming closer and I had to reach out to them, go out and get them.
It was a super intense year. Everything was working out on the one hand, but at home I was living a nightmare for a year and a half; even though it felt like ten.

The good thing is that when someone creates problems for you and makes you suffer, you can better appreciate the things that make you feel good and the people that really love and care for you. Look at it like a failure, but one that makes you learn and become stronger, so it’s actually a success.
Yes. And the good thing was that it gave me more
motivation to skate. Just like when I was 15 and skated to blow off some steam, once again skateboarding was my refuge and my getaway. It gives me life.

Nothing is more inspiring than a broken heart, isn’t that right?
For sure. If everything was going smoothly, maybe I wouldn’t have had the motivation to go for it. It gave me a lot of strength. But that’s something I’m trying to change. Why do bad things have to happen in order for me to see the good things and focus?

Ha ha ha…
We talked about your biggest achievement as well as your biggest failure. On another note, would you like to be an inspiration for anyone, or does that make you feel uneasy?
I never thought about that. I think I’m focused on myself at this time of my life, on my learning process and I don’t often stop to think about how others see me. I don’t think I’m an example for anyone.

Pop shove-it into the bank, El Prat.

Is social media important to you?
Not at all. I have an Instagram account, but it’s not so important to me. I like living in the
real world. I’ve been skating a lot lately, but I’ve also been doing loads of other things that are unrelated to skateboarding. Now that I have time, I can enjoy doing loads of other stuff.

So you don’t pay attention to what people may say about you on social media?
It is not like I don’t pay attention to it, because most of the time I get support from people and I really appreciate it. But it is really important to not forget that social media isn’t real and that people don’t really know you. You only show what you wanna show, probably everyone thinks you’re super happy and you got everything, but reality can be different. Everyone is struggling with something; also it is important to not compare yourself with anyone.
I’m also conscious that there are a lot of people following me (at least for me it’s a lot). Young girls who write nice messages to me, and I appreciate it a lot… I would love to talk more with them someday, not only about skateboarding, but also rather about the values that are intrinsic to skating and the importance of doing what makes you happy and being yourself, without caring about what other people might think.

What would you say to the people who would like to take a decision and seem to be stuck?
This question scares me, because I feel like that’s always been me. Trying to motivate my family and friends to do things they want to do and don’t dare to try. I think I do that so much they end up telling me to fuck off.

That’s because you’re so demanding with yourself, maybe that’s the reason why you tell them they have to do it, and you motivate them.
I feel like I’m not so demanding with myself, I think there’s always more that I could do.

You’re demanding, and sacrificing; yet when you see results, you go and reach out for more. Do you have any advice for our readers?
The only advice I could give is: if you want something, go and get it, no matter how.

That’s great. And now to wrap up the interview, can we expect to see anything of you in the next months?
A Foundation video will be the next thing to come out, in December, I’m so excited about it. And also projects with Vans in 2023, dates haven’t been announced yet. And maybe, just maybe, you can expect a plant tutorial on YouTube, ha ha ha!

An Onlyfans, but with plants ha ha ha.
An Onlyfans dedicated to plants and a tutorial video of me playing the drums.

That’s great, we’ll keep our eyes peeled <3