‘True Spirit’ Real Life Character: Jessica Watson, Explained: How Did She Travel The World’s Oceans?


Human ambition is the fuel that keeps mankind moving towards the next step, where life is better than yesterday and where another impossibility has been conquered. We all have a bit of it in our lives. It could be an ambition for a certain amount of money, a specific lifestyle, or the most obvious kind: making a name for oneself. Ambition demands a lot from you; it demands hard work, consistency, and a single-minded focus that often doesn’t leave room for anything else. But an often-undiscussed part of ambition is the adventure it brings. It is exhilarating, isn’t it, when you find that what you have been working for is just a tiny part of everything you have achieved? We had read somewhere that ambitious people see what nobody else does and go on to create it for themselves. Jessica Watson was someone like that.

“True Spirit” is based on the real life of an Australian teenager named Jessica Watson, who traveled the seas of the world on her boat, unassisted. She spent 210 days in the sea and faced seven knockdowns in her journey. Though the movie only manages to capture a fraction of Jessica’s voyage, it still paints an accurate picture of the strength and perseverance of a young woman who believed in her dreams despite all odds.

Sailing was Jessica’s love from when she was a little girl. We saw in one of the flashbacks that she was telling Ben that she was big and strong enough to help with the sailing. Imagine the optics of a girl half your size talking about taking on such a mammoth task by herself. We can gauge from what we saw of her family that they must have treated her indulgently, thinking that it was one of the things children did: have dreams of high fantasy that are maybe not feasible for the real world. We don’t think she was ever actively discouraged, but she also probably never had anyone believe in her strongly enough. When Ben Bryant tells her that she does not need to prove anything to him, we don’t think he was saying that because he believed in her. He just said it in such a manner that she did not owe him any explanation. If Jessica did not understand that, it meant that she thought that Ben was the first person to believe in her capabilities. But if she understood the meaning behind his words, it meant that it was the start of her learning not to let other people’s opinions stop her on her journey. Either way, that is why she chose him to be her teacher and advisor when she could have gone with anyone in her school. When she presents the list of courses and tests she must take to achieve her ambition, Jessica is already a girl on a mission. Again, maybe her parents did not think she would actually go around the world, but any preparation she does must be helpful for her future.

The next part of her journey was not shown, but as she kept ticking things off the list, her parents must have become aware of her determination. There must have been some fights at home about her wanting to undertake such a journey. Now, we admit that what she did required a great deal of industry, dedication, and courage, and we applaud her for it, but even though she was successful, we still believe that a 16-year-old should not have put herself in such danger.

The reason we decided to voice our opinion is that before Jessica started her mission, we must not have been the only ones to think that. The plethora of people she needed to convince ranged from her parents to her sponsors, as well as a good chunk of government officials, so that she could get the required permits. That itself shows how mentally strong she must be, especially compared to the rest of us, who shed tears of frustration during any argument beyond a certain point. But whatever resistance she might have faced, she eventually had a strong support system. Her family stood beside her despite their doubts. We are especially talking about her father here. When Roger decided not to stand in the way of his daughter, he was taking a leap of faith, which meant that he still had doubts, and Jessica was disheartened when she learned about them. But she had her sister to show her the other side of the coin, one where Jessica is a strong person and has people who love and support her despite any misgivings they have. It is with the knowledge of the faith that people have in her that Jessica sets out to travel the entire world’s oceans.

Once she is on the water, failure is not an option anymore. And initially, there is no reason for it either. She is finally living her dream and getting used to a solitary life at sea. But we see it getting to her, especially when she talks to her family. She becomes aware of what she is missing out on every time she hears their laughter on the phone. Her support system has become a bunch of distant voices instead of being around her all the time, and this is something she is facing for the first time in her life. Nobody said being a teenager was easy, especially an ambitious one. But a teenager who sets out to conquer the world also carries an element of recklessness, which we saw when Jessica forgot to strap herself in during her first storm or when she was unaware that she was going backward because she had forgotten to turn on her alarms. It wasn’t just the optimism of youth that made her believe that she would be fine, but the fact that she had always been taken care of. It was the first time that she had to do it all by herself, and she had to expand her mental faculties to not just keep going on her mission but to put in the labor to sustain herself. When Jessica’s mother tells her that the winds will blow for her again, just like they do for every sailor, she also means that Jessica will learn to take care of herself, just like every other person does.

It is the faith that people show in Jessica that has always been the source of her strength. When she has to face the biggest storm of her journey, she is advised to give up and go to the nearest port available. By this time, the world has already acknowledged her capabilities, and they are not talking about her as a teenager on a foolish mission but are actually concerned for her safety. She could have gone to port and taken the journey at another time. Jessica really had nothing left to prove to anyone. But that is the difference between being ambitious to prove a point to the world and being so for your own sense of self.

Jessica was not ready to give up without a fight, and she found a way. It was a risk but a calculated one where she was acting from a place of cautious optimism and not blind faith. By this time, her family and everyone else had come to trust her judgment, which actually paid off. Despite the impossibility of it all, Jessica won. It was a combination of strategy, science, and her faith in her boat, which she had not given up on since the beginning. The biggest difference we noticed in Jessica when she came back ashore was that she no longer had restless legs. At the beginning of the movie, we see how she is constantly fidgeting, but now, what was once a dream is replaced by a sense of achievement and the confidence that comes along with it, which takes away her restlessness.

When Jessica is called a hero by the Australian Prime Minister, she says something that though sounds simple, is one of the most profound things we can take inspiration from. She says that it is just about having a dream and believing in it with your whole heart. Well, whatever our thoughts about someone so young taking on such a challenge, we agree that she has been an inspiration to millions around the globe simply by not giving up on herself. Those who dream big cannot keep room for self-doubt, and Jessica proved that by sailing beyond it.

See More: ‘True Spirit’ Ending, Explained: Who Is Jessica Watson? How Does She Journey Across The World’s Oceans?

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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