A letter to my 19 year old self

Dear Michelle,
How are you? I am you but 10 years later. You look pretty much the same and you live in the borough you were born with. It may surprise you but you are going to live in Durham and enjoy it; move to Mile End which you’ll look back at with slight tinges of regret (more about that later) and live in Walthamstow for 2 years and quite enjoy that too. You always said you were going to move to East and you did!
I know you are angry and very sad at the moment and these feelings will partially shape you when you go to university. You will start to love it there and you are going to make some great friends.  These friends will support you through some of the most trying points in your life so don’t give up. You will never be truly alone. The garage and grime music you love will lead you to DJ regularly at university and have a radio show. After university you will write a music column on the back of this DJ-ing and inherit some of Dad’s records. You still love dancing though you are less of a raver these days.
You are going to get the degree you wanted and go to the university you wanted to go to for your Masters. Your Masters year will be one of great significance to you- you’ll meet a boy, fall in love and have your heart broken.  The pain of this breakup will shadow you for a long time but eventually you will gain perspective. Your masters has its own financial debt, one that you still have not totally finished paying off, but you have a kind friend that will support you with this. You are not rich but you manage to survive. And you are surrounded by people that will look after you if needs be.
You are going to have more lot of ups and downs with your family, but ultimately you will gain greater acceptance of who they are. It will take a long time but you will step back from your relationship with Mum and she will be less able to hurt you. Be patient and have your own life! All of your Yorke siblings are going to suddenly grow up very quickly and this will be difficult at times. You will be very sad for your brothers when Drew unexpectedly dies and their lives take divergent paths. The path T ends on when he is 19 will make you write this. More positively you have a great relationship with your dad- yes, you do, and become very close to your sister Simone. Believe or not, the sibling you will be closest to is Harmonie.You are going to have a new brother in 5 years time…
You are going to do lots of different jobs and meet lots of new people, some of whom become really good friends. You will struggle with the times you are unemployed, but you always end up with a new job and surviving. You will at times be in conflict with your ideas about what you should be doing and earning and the reality of what you are doing. Be more honest with yourself and have more confidence! You will work at a charity, yes a charity, for several years and your Durham and LSE educated self will be buffed to a very professional standard. You will train as a life coach through this work and this will be incredibly transformational for you. You will be clearer on who you are and what you have to give. You will also meet a person that will introduce you to international charity work, this leads you to go to Africa and volunteer. Yes Africa, and yes you will volunteer. And you will absolutely love it.
Travel gradually becomes more important to you. Whilst living with Dad, you will visit Paris, Rome and Barcelona, and in the following years visit Sardinia, Egypt and Morocco and discover a love of Spain. You will visit friends all over the UK and enjoy getting out of your beloved London. Your love of Kandinsky will not dim and 10 years later you will be very moved when you see his work at an exhibition. You are quite cultured these days but lazy. Make an effort to do the things you love. By the way- you love baking cakes, taking photos and fantasy novels. The latter you indulge yourself in and read into the early hours.
I have to break it to you- you are not in a relationship. You will have lots of temporary boyfriends but your fear of getting hurt will lead you to hide more and more. This fear will be compounded by a tragic event in your mid twenties. Your ideas of a relationship will change quite a lot over time and friendship and having similar intellectual values will become more important to you. My advice would be- be yourself, don’t pander to others and remember just because the love of your life (there will be several!) does X, Y or Z, that does not mean you are a bad, unlovable person. ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’.
Well that is all I have to say for now. You are stronger than you think and will always survive those dark days. You have friends and family that love you and you are working towards being the person you want to be. Your love of self help is an asset here. Your interest in education and equality will not wane and will define who are you. Stay strong.


Michelle xxx

This post is dedicated to my brother Tiar’nan Heavey (19) who inspired this post and my sister Simone Mangal (18).

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