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Wear Sunscreen

Posted 08-27-08 at 04:08 PM by houts
Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young

Mary Schmich

June 1, 1997
Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people whoíd rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but thereís no reason we canít entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of Ď97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until theyíve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, youíll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you canít grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.Donít worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.Do one thing every day that scares you.


Donít be reckless with other peopleís hearts. Donít put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Donít waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes youíre ahead, sometimes youíre behind. The race is long and, in the end, itís only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Donít feel guilty if you donít know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didnít know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still donít.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. Youíll miss them when theyíre gone.

Maybe youíll marry, maybe you wonít. Maybe youíll have children, maybe you wonít. Maybe youíll divorce at 40, maybe youíll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, donít congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody elseís.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Donít be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. Itís the greatest instrument youíll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you donít follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when theyíll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. Theyíre your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, youíll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Donít expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe youíll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Donít mess too much with your hair or by the time youíre 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than itís worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune
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Total Comments 3


  1. Old
    xraylady33's Avatar
    I must say...WELL SAID....
    There is always the usual...go fourth and prosper..this actually made me smile and think....
    I wish I had listened many years ago..but no need in worrying..I cannot change time...but we can all move forward..and learn from our mistakes.
    Thanks...great job!
    Posted 08-27-08 at 09:56 PM by xraylady33 xraylady33 is offline
  2. Old
    ggal's Avatar
    This is a song by Baz Luhrman---google it. It's great!
    Posted 08-28-08 at 10:00 AM by ggal ggal is offline
  3. Old
    Baz Luhrman made the song FROM this article by Mary Schmich. She wrote this article, in which created such a stir and buzz.

    Just wanted to clarify.

    To see the video, go here:
    Posted 08-29-08 at 07:55 PM by houts houts is offline
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