A recent ‘Vendor Week’ edition of The Big Issue had a section titled ‘Letter to My Younger Self’ where Big Issue vendors from around Australia offered words of advice, reflection, consolation and love to their teenage selves. I found the the letter from Mark W from Adelaide to himself was particularly insightful.
“Dear 14-year-old me, Hi mate, this is your 41-year old self. If you don’t want a life of depression, anxiety and OCD, then listen up.
Firstly, yes, your parents have just divorced, but listen, don’t resent them. The resentment will lead to depression and misery later on. They will always do the best they can at the time, and they will always love and care for you. Love them back. Don’t rebel so much.
If you’re going to rebel, if you’re going to experiment with drugs and booze, that’s okay, most teenagers do. Just don’t let these things rule your life, and change who you really are.
Addiction will lead to anxiety and it will take over. Learn the skill of moderation; you can’t go full steam forever. It’s impossible. But even moderation should be observed in moderation – you can still have fun. The road of excess sometimes leads to the palace of wisdom.
You are special. Remember the unlikelihood of your birth – you are lucky to be here, a true wonder. Be confident, believe in yourself, love yourself. Because a lack of this love will ruin your confidence and your life, and will lead to something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You are a good person, believe it. Don’t let negative comments get you down. Know who you are; don’t let others change you with their own inadequacies.
Make better choices. If something immediately feels wrong, it probably is. Don’t chase wealth – some of the happiest people are the poorest. Money isn’t everything. Gambling is for suckers, and quite literally, losers.
Live, love and let it be. And if all else fails, and you can’t find love, live and create, and if you find yourself desolate and homeless, sell The Big Issue! It might just save your life.
And you will again learn to love yourself. Love Me, to You, I.