#VendorLetters: Big Issue Australia’s Daryl was on a “road to self-discovery” at 25

INSP has been asking vendors from across the street paper network to write letters to their 25-year-old self to mark the end of INSP’s 25th anniversary year. 41-year-old Big Issue Australia vendor Daryl, who sells the magazine in Melbourne, writes touchingly about how times have changed for him since he was 25.


Being 25 was a road of self-discovery, trying to form an identity. I was living in Frankston, experiencing long term unemployment. I was pretty close to the beach, maybe a good 15-minute walk. I visited maybe once or twice a week. I was doing a correspondence course, which means I was studying anywhere other than a campus. These days it would be online but back then it wasn’t. They would send you textbooks, stuff you would need to do coursework, and then you would send in assignments by mail. I was studying naturopathy, which is alternative forms of medicine.

It was a very different time. This was when we still had VHS, and DVDs were very much fringe. The internet wasn’t as prevalent as it is now, because back then if you had the internet it was good, but it wasn’t a necessity like today. If you wanted to watch something you had to be home and watch it on a TV, video or DVD. These days you can watch things on your phone.

Back in the day people were more pronounced with the way they dressed, very different from the mainstream. People were dressing very different to what was normal, think of hippy, punk, metalhead, and goth. I was going from one to the other, and then found goth. I remained goth for quite some time, I’m technically still goth but I’m not as involved as I used to be. It changed the way I dressed, the music I was listening to, a lot of stuff I was watching and the people I was hanging out with. We were hanging out in clubs in the city.

Big Issue Australia vendor Daryl. [Credit: Mark Avellino]

I found out about The Big Issue just after I turned 25. I started selling the street paper when I turned 26, back in 2004. Facing long term unemployment and living by myself, unfortunately a lot of people would tell you it gets a bit hard to cover all your living expenses. I was behind on my rent, and back then due to a lack of experience, qualifications, skills, and having no proper transport, my job prospects were very low. I decided to work for The Big Issue to pay the bills.

If my 25-year old self saw me, he’d probably be shocked at my appearance! These days I’m clean shaven, but back then I wasn’t. I had a big beard, and if you’d even suggest for me to trim it, I would say no! My dress is different; the way I present myself now is completely different.

I think these days it’s a lot different for 25-year olds. It’s a lot harder. I’ll say if you’re doing school – university, TAFE, whatever – do it for fun and for a profession, but also look at what life skills can you develop from the degree, certificate, or diploma they give you.

If I could go back and speak to my 25-year old self, I’d say that you think you know a lot, but you don’t. You’re actually quite naive. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, a lot of personality to develop. Even though you might think you’re smart, like a lot of people in your age demographic you’re not. There are other people your age who are a lot more switched on then you are, so you’ve got a long way to go!

Check back in every day over the festive period for more #VendorLetters.

INSP members can download the #VendorLetters feature on the INSP News Service.