This world is a noisy place and it’s really easy to get caught up in being busy without ever really having a look at what it actually is you’re doing with your time. We can fall into careers and remain stuck there for years without ever questioning it, just because it pays the bills. We can aimlessly float around in a crowd of people and let their opinions softly shape our lives. We’re creatures of habit and it’s easy to drift through life without challenging or questioning much at all.
Things get a little trickier when you start making drastic changes to things. People tend to give advice based on their own experience of the world so if their ideas of what is possible or reasonable don’t match with yours, toys can get thrown out of the pram, so to speak. They often mean well; maybe they’re trying to protect you from what they think is inevitable failure and disappointment.
When I decided that I wanted to row across the Pacific, I knew it’d be unlikely (impossible) that I’d be convincing my friends to join me. Life is interesting this way; it’d be dull if we were all the same. Team Boatylicious is made up of 4 strangers, now friends, brought together by one goal – all getting labelled as lunatics by their other friends. To just rely on the people you already know and the experiences you already have means you’re eliminating a whole other world of opportunity. Allowing yourself a little space to figure out what lights up your life is so very important. If you find yourself surrounded by people trying to dampen that, it’s time to look elsewhere. Have the courage to follow your own path, rocky as it may be.
Honestly, whatever you do, someone will often criticise you. No matter what you do, it just won’t be good enough for some people. Phase out the people who have nothing but criticism to send your way – nobody needs this. Phase out the people who want you to be someone else: wanting to better yourself is fine, suppressing your passions to fit in with others is not.
If you don’t try, you will never know and maybe (probably) things won’t work out as you planned but I’m certain of this: it must be better to fail from trying than to succeed from risking nothing and that life’s unexpected little twists are often the making of you. You can’t grow as a person without trying something new and the sense of pride lurking just out of reach of your comfort zone is worth struggling for.
Laura Kennington is a founding member of Team Boatylicious, the only all female team of four to be entered in the first ever rowing race across the Pacific Ocean. She has no intention of returning to a grown up job anytime soon.