Presented by North Sails, ‘Letter to My Younger Self’ is a series narrated by their ambassadors, and in each article, their advice and personal journeys are brought to life by asking the question: if your ‘now me’ could give your ‘more young council, what would it be?
Norwegian sailor, adventurer and marine biologist Andreas Heide offers these encouraging words:
Dear Andreas, 12 years old,
Reading this I think you just got back from a trip in your little boat or snorkeling somewhere. Your parents may have been mad at you for coming home late, but ignore them because that’s the path you should stay on.
Stay true to your own path, not the one expected by your parents or those around you. Let curiosity continue to guide you. Follow your gut boy and go for it. Know that everything you do now, from climbing trees, skiing in the mountains, and rowing to fish, will help you better understand the great outdoors you already love.
As you stare at the horizon, wondering about the world beyond the outer piers, realize that one day you will venture beyond the comforts of your home. When you gaze out at the ocean wondering what magnificent creatures live in the great blue ocean, know that one day you will encounter many of these animals that fulfill your childhood dreams.
You’ll swim with whales of all kinds as well as the second largest fish in the world, the basking shark (yes the one you just read about in your favorite book), and have close encounters with polar bears, maybe even a little too close! And one day, you will sail as far north as possible, to the ice floe around the North Pole.
Getting there isn’t going to be easy though; sacrifices will have to be made. You will have to work hard and train harder. Join the navy, learn how to use a parachute, dive out of submarines and take part in endless winter marches in the arid lands of northern Norway. But every day and every step is just a little closer to your dream.
It’s not just about the physical side of what you’re doing; having intelligence is just as important. Your teachers and parents will do a poor job of telling you why you need to go to school, but you have to accept everything. Believe me.
If you realize that everything you learn will come in handy later in life, you’ll have less trouble sitting still while you do your algebra. (By the way, algebra will become especially useful when traveling by boat in the far north.) So listen to your parents and be a good student. You will find marine biology studies a bit boring, but go ahead because one day they will be very useful.
And while you should follow your instincts, be sure to surround yourself with good people and friends. Be humble and ask for advice when you need it. However, self-confidence is also very important. Sometimes you will need this confidence, because it is a lonely path you have chosen and few people will understand what motivates you.
But you know: it’s the wonder of what lies beyond the horizon and below the surface; it’s the thrill of exploring; the excitement of pushing the limits that pushes you to meet the challenges. If you stay true to your path, you will one day meet many people just like you. People with the same dynamism and the same curiosity. These people will become your community to go out in nature and at sea, out of passion and love.
It is only when you grow up that you will discover sailing. Sailing is a wonderful platform that allows you to sail past the horizon, from where you will see the white cliffs of Dover, the icebergs of Greenland and the solid ice of the North. It will allow you to dive in remote arctic caves and ultimately sailing will help you share your love for the ocean with the world.
But it won’t always be easy (pun intended). Sometimes you will feel cold, scared and wish you had chosen an easier path. There will be ups and downs, excitement and struggle. It will be a challenge. But it will also be what you love, the challenge of going out there and working hard to achieve your goals.
Sometimes you will fail. But failure is fine, as long as you tried your best. Just be sure to keep going, come back to it, and do better. Never give up boy, stay true to your path. You may never achieve all of your goals, but rest assured that you will have an exciting journey regardless!
And one last thing, as you get older, remember to never lose your curiosity. As you stare at the horizon and wonder, don’t worry, you will soon see so much. Believe me, there is so much to explore!