The following piece was awarded Second Prize in the OU Students Association Freshers writing competition. The author, Jasmine, is from Great Yarmouth and is working towards a BSc (Honours) Biology.
I am in the middle of the ocean. I only just started this adventure, yet I already feel so far away from land. Like my feet are struggling to find safe, flat ground. The boat rocks along with the waves. I shiver as the cold air brushes my face. There is a sharpness to the cold and my face stings. I look straight ahead hoping to finally see a destination, but it is still too foggy. I don’t know where I’m going exactly but I know why I set sail. My life back home was slowly coming to a halt. I was at a standstill in life, in everything, not sure where to go next. So, over a few months, I planned this adventure that would get me to a better place. A place where I was doing something bigger than I am now. It’s only been a month since I set sail, but I have already come across so many things. Things I have found to be difficult to get past but also things that have captivated me along the journey. The ocean can be as treacherous as it is beautiful. It will carry me to my destination so long as I steer the boat. If I let the ocean carry the boat alone, I would probably be back where I started with this wind that always tries to push me back. Sometimes I want to give in to the wind and let it carry me all the way back to the beginning but then I remember what I am doing this for. “Not today, wind” I shout. I have plans and will not let you take away my motivation to get there.
The waves crash up the sides of my boat as the wind gets stronger and stronger. My hands are slowly going numb against the steering wheel. The thick fog is still limiting my sight so when I get close to a massive rock jutting out of the sea, I almost crash into it, stopping my adventure there. I narrowly miss it though by turning and keep my eyes out for anymore. I breathe a quick sigh of relief.
It has been about half an hour and no more rocks have shown up. It was just one bump in the road. The fog is still quite thick, and the waves are still pretty rough. Some crashing over the sides of the boat. The fear of sinking does creep up every now and again. Sometimes I doubt myself to be able to get there, to my destination. I never would have thought I could do it, but I started it and have kept going at a good pace. Sometimes, I see a shadow in the water that looks menacing. Some of the shadows have teeth, some are in groups and others are alone, just like I thought I would be. I am alone in my boat but there are other people out there in boats just like mine, maybe trying to get to a similar destination but also maybe just fishing. I also see fish that swim next to my boat. Some have been swimming next to me for a while and I think they must be taking the same route as me. Going to the same place or not, we are on the same journey.
It has been about a week since I almost crashed into that massive rock. The fog that blurred everything has slowly been disappearing until today, when it is now completely dispersed. The sun glints off the water creating sparkling ripples. The waves have calmed down like they don’t want to swallow me up whole anymore. I feel more in control of the boat than I have in weeks. I unzip my coat and breathe in the warm, fresh air. I can see the fish more clearly now through the reflection in the water. Some shine in the sunlight, creating a mesmerizing pool of colour within the water. Some are bigger than my head yet others only just the same size as my hands. Some are slower swimmers and keeping to the back of the boat, while others swim ahead of me but still close enough to almost be in my boat. I look above me to the never-ending cloudless, soft blue sky. Today will be a calm sail.
With the sun in the sky, my hands on the steering wheel and the fish by my side, I keep the boat sailing forwards, the way that seems best. I feel euphoric. No matter how much further I sail, I just know I will end up somewhere that is great for me. I have seen the waves around me act almost like fire instead of water, splashing up the sides of my boat the way fire would engulf it. I have also seen the waves calm, especially at night, swaying my boat like it was slow dancing in the moonlight. Now, I see the waves in the light from the sun, shining like they are full of magic and I smile knowing that while they carry me and my boat, they leave but an almost magical feeling of excitement and proudness. This is going to be an amazing, wondrous journey.