David's Letter to My Younger Self

13 February 2020

David's Letter to My Younger Self

Photo by Ross Swanborough

Dear Champ,

I know you will appreciate me calling you that – it’s how Mum thought of you. You’re 15 right now; I am 41 years old.

I know you’re going to take notice of what I am writing, even though you don’t like receiving guidance or help from adults. This letter you must keep safe, because I’m afraid of what lies ahead of you, Champ.

At school, you’re athletic and excel at sports, winning lots of trophies and medals. You’re watching Top Gun over and over again with the dream of becoming an air force pilot. I need you to be successful at school. I want you to get the grades, to have that dream job, that dream house. I need you to ask for as much help as you can. Dial down the drinking and partying. 

Believe in yourself. I know that at the moment you’re full of doubts – you don’t know which way to go or which path to take – but do your best to choose what you love to do at any moment, and try to do that to the very best of your ability.

Stand up for yourself when you get picked on, ignored, when people laugh or make fun of you. You are strong – don’t let people walk over you. Just say no, which at times might be hard. Don’t be afraid about what people think of you – be yourself and show them what’s right. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do: respect others, knowing we all make mistakes.

Don’t give up when things become challenging. Champ, you are a fighter. You’re not going to be afraid of any hard work that comes your way. When worst comes to worst, ask for help. You will be amazed how the world will help you out.

You’ll regret falling out with Dad. It means you’ll sleep on the streets in the UK for almost a year. You’ll have nothing and still not ask for any help. You’ll have a plastic bottle that you’ll keep filling up with water from a tap in someone’s garden. The nights will be cold – bloody freezing – and uncomfortable. It will just be the concrete floor and the clothes you are wearing, day after day. Thankfully you’ll meet someone who will take you in, give you a room and help you back on your feet.

Finally, you’ll achieve a lot over the years. Selling The Big Issue will be a rewarding job. It won’t be about making money – you’ll love sharing stories and articles and interacting with the customers. You will be comfortable with where you are, and that’s all that will matter.



David sells The Big Issue at the Subiaco Farmers Market, Art Gallery of WA and the Myer bridge, Perth, Australia

Article first appeared in The Big Issue edition #604