If you do not remember the 1997 Graduation Speech by Mary Schmich, you will certainly remember the 1999 Baz Luhrmann interpretation Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen). Until a few weeks ago, I had not listened to the song/words in a nearly a decade, and the meaning behind some of the phrasing resonated greatly with a few years of “real world experience” (as Ms. Schmich said in her speech, “I encourage anyone over 26 to try this…”).
As we finalize this year in many ways (with recitals, graduations, etc.), here are my favorite words of wisdom from the speech (I encourage you to revisit the entire piece, too; it is very good and very true):
- Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
- Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
- Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.
- 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.
- 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 it’s worth.
And, I always wear sunscreen. 🙂