Having grown up on and around boats, when she was 13, Laura Dekker decided she would sail around the world — all on her own. Her parents supported the idea, but the Dutch courts didn’t, and so it was only a year later, at 14, that she finally got the go-ahead. More than 500 days after setting off, at the age of 16, Laura and her two-master, the Guppy, arrived back home safe and sound, making her the youngest person ever to solo-circumnavigate the globe.
Now in her 20s, Laura still gets interviewed on a regular basis about the experience. In one conversation, she is asked what helped her “feel ready” for the adventure. “Now that I’m older, I do realize the process is different for children vs. adults. That’s the beautiful thing about children. They have something adults have lost. A curiosity. A spark.”
Back then, Laura didn’t really think about her decision. She didn’t think about “being ready.” She just felt like going on this adventure, so she said she wanted to, and then she did. “As a child, you think very simple — and it is very simple, in fact. You just go and prepare and do it. It’s not that difficult.”
Most of the obstacles children face when trying to do something special are the stones we as adults put in their way. For Laura, it was a court order. For most kids, it’ll be their parents. Once we’re grown up, we lay those same stones into our own path. But the truth is, life still can be simple. You just go and prepare and do it. Your hurdles will be different ones, some inner, some outer, but if there’s something you care about doing, as soon as you set foot on the path, you’ll be on your way.
“This feeling of ‘when I’m ready,’ deep in your heart you know it, and all the rest of it is just making excuses,” Laura says. Don’t let those excuses bury your dreams. Remember your inner child. Channel your simple thinking. And then, whatever your version of a sailing trip around the world is, go and prepare and do it.