Today, after having a festive Starbucks with a good friend of mine I decided to purchase a copy of The Big Issue, which I think is quite honestly one of the most underrated publications in the magazine sector presently. Firstly, I love the whole ethos of The Big Issue and the way that it allows the homeless to earn themselves a future. Homlessness is totally heart-breaking, which I think even more so when the country is hit with the bitter temperatures we have been this christmas. It was about one month ago that I was walking through my local park on my way from work when a young man, maybe a few years older than myself stopped and asked me if I could spare some small change so he could get a bite to eat, as he was homeless and in the midst of an accomodation hunt. Of course I was wary at first, as it is so easy to judge right from the outset in today’s society. When I looked at him though I could see the desperation in his face and his small plastic bags of belongings and it put everything into perspective. He noticed my blatant reservations and even pulled some paper work from his pocket to prove that he was searching for a better life. This just hit me so hard and made me realise how lucky I am to have a job and a home. I gave him some change and wished him well and I sincerely meant it. It is so hard to start from nothing, I couldn’t even imagine how I would cope. I just wish I could do more, but atleast supporting the cause is a start I suppose and I urge everyone lucky enough to have a roof over their heads to do the same. The Big Issue, as well as contributing to the rehabilitation of those without the security and comfort of a stable life is also an extremely worthwhile read. This brings me onto the next point that secondly, I love the topics that The Big Issue covers and brings my attention to. This is not the first edition of the magazine that I have bought, as I do find the content included highly relevant to the public sphere in which I belong. A feature in the magazine that I regard as pure genius, is the Letter To My Younger Self page. This is where the publication calls upon a well-know person to reveal to the reading population of The Big Issue the advice that they would give to their younger former selves if they could. What an ingenious idea. This December 20th issue focused the feature on Lembit Opik, former MP and television figure and his letter to his younger self was majorly inspiring. He speaks of how he would encourage himself as a young boy to wholeheartedly support his political beliefs rather than shying away from them. It is important to stand up for what you believe is right and unfortunately you do have to contrast other people’s opinions in doing so, but this is what community is about and should remain to be about. If I could, I would teach myself as a young girl to be more confident in my thoughts and follow them passionately, as I always worried of displeasing anybody and still am to this day, no matter how they have treated me in the past. Opik says in his article that the wisdom he would share with his younger self is to not ” appease people who have not got your best interests at heart” and this I believe to be so true. That sums up my biggest weakness really. It was the closing paragraph that I felt was most powerful:
“happiness is an outlook, while joy is temporary…suffering is inevitable but misery is a choice. Never forget that”
Happiness is absolutely the outlook, which strongly themes my new years resolution for 2011. I think looking back and thinking about the advice you would have wanted when you were younger is a crucial exercise to understand the ways in which you can change and better your own lifestyle at this moment in time. Supporting others with a less fortunate lifestyle is definitely a starting point to highly consider and it’s what I intend to work on. It is so funny to imagine how different things could have turned out, had you have know what you know about your life now. Life happens so quickly, you just have to make the most of it and live for the present. This is my method to existence and the one I like to share with my lovely little brothers. Growing up with two younger siblings is actually a massive help, as it makes you take on a self-reflexive point of view and realise how you should adjust your approach to what you do, because you want to lead by example. It also reminds you to stay young and cheerful. However, I still believe that a lot of what happens is and should be left to fate, afterall it is what makes life exciting. So, what wisdom would you impart on the younger you?