Rachel's Letter to My Younger Self

4 February 2020 Rachel

Rachel's Letter to My Younger Self

Photo by George Fetting.

Dear Rachel,

Hopefully this letter gets to you in time and you decide to get on that bus before you change your mind. I understand how you feel – I’m the older you.

I have to say this: you must stay alive until you reach 42. Yes, I can see you reading this and laughing your head off. What is this crazy lady talking about?! Forty is too old to even think about, you will say. Then you will get sad, am I right? Because you’re confused right now. You live in a small community, an air force base in the middle of nowhere. The only place that makes sense right now is the small radio station where you volunteer, and the walks along the red sand. You were taught to work for a world that lives in peace with no poverty, but your community is living in preparation for war. The adults are strange, living a life afraid of so many things, friendly to each other but nasty about each other behind closed doors. Your world is boxed in.

You are just trying to live your life, but something is not right. So, please get on that bus, as it will change your life. Oh and trust me, at 16 you might think you know everything but you know nothing, my little one.

Golly gosh, this is the hard bit. I don’t want to scare you but I need you to listen. You think you are lonely now but you haven’t felt loneliness yet, I’m afraid. So, enjoy the bus ride and find a job, work hard and learn life. Right now, you don’t believe kindness can be used to abuse you, but it will in so many ways.
You’re going to fall in love and have children – imagine that! You will see life through their eyes and learn to be creative in bad times so they can enjoy their childhood. Mostly you will understand children are born unique, wise and happy. You’re going to see why it is so important that love should never own anything.

You’re going to face years of homelessness and abuse. You are going to get so sick you will be on death’s door. No-one is going to have time to understand that the choices you will need to make are from a slate of bad choices – there will be no good ones to choose from. You will even believe you destroyed the life you’ve been given, and that will nearly break you. But you need to stay hopeful and know that the kindness of others is not all about money. Just listen to the music and you will never be alone. You’ll get used to walking alone with the moon and that’s okay.

You’ll sometimes still make bad choices, but we live in a community – please don’t forget that. You see, my little one, in all that trouble you will find strangers along the way who will help you keep your family housed, and help you understand that a fair go is still possible.

Then you will get to 42 and decide to live. Slowly, all those life lessons will start to matter and people will take the time to listen.

I guess the only advice I can offer is don’t push away the ones you love: let them into your life. Your time spent away from them will be your one regret.
So, little one, get on that bus and learn that life is not the black-and-white world you have been taught. You will need to go through so much to understand that life is a gift.

Lots of love,


Rachel sells The Big Issue in Pyrmont, Sydney, Australia

Article first appeared in The Big Issue edition #604