A letter from the future
On this day in 1997, the words immortalised by Baz Luhrmann ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)‘ are 14 years old.
The original article appeared in the Chicago Tribune entitled, ‘Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young’.
The author, Mary Schmich set out to write a fictitious graduation speech: “Most of us will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns”.
She invited her readership to do the same. Fourteen years later, bloggers from over the world took up that mantle and the ‘Sunscreen Challenge’ was born.
Bloggers have spent one hour creating a graduation speech. Essentially, it’s the advice they’d pass onto school leavers today based on their own life experience.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog – please retweet it or repost. For Twitter, include the #sunscreenchallenge tag and find other blog posts using this hashtag.
When you’re young, the ‘future’ seems like a million years away. 25 is old, 30 is ancient and 40 is a different species. There are so many things I wish I could tell my younger self, but knowing what I was like when I left school, I probably wouldn’t have listened.
So this is a letter — a letter from the future if you like — and it’s for the kids of today. I’m going to tell you what I’ve learnt during those years since I left school. I could drone on about the importance of a good education and the need for a solid pension plan, but just like the 16-year-old me, you won’t listen.
Instead, I’m going to tell you about the things you can’t buy or get a piece of paper for.
The important things.
Tell your parents you love them
Tell them as much as possible. Yes, your mum has that annoying habit of calling at the most inconvenient time she can find, and yes, your dad still looks a bit awkward when he gets a kiss from his gay son. Parents get on your nerves; it’s their job, but one day you’ll look at them and see two old people who may not be alive much longer — and it’s terrifying.
Being a ‘rebel’ isn’t cool.
The motto ‘live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse’ is a load of crap. You ever seen the body of a crystal meth addict? Exactly
Find something you love doing and do it.
There’s a saying: “money can’t buy you happiness.” It’s true, but lack of it can make you miserable as well. Well, here’s a newsflash: you can earn money doing what you love without subscribing to a life of poverty; you just have to be creative and work hard. After all, there’s a big difference between having a job you hate and having a career you love.
Think before you judge
Next time you see someone who’s thinner, more beautiful, has a better body or is more successful than you, don’t be in such a hurry to tear them down. Life is lonely when people hate you for no reason.
Find something you love about yourself
It’s strange how we need to be inspired to love ourselves, but need no inspiration to put ourselves down. So take a look in the mirror now and pick a part of you that you love. Appreciate it every day. Say it out loud. It’ll make up for the rest of the time when you’re being hard on yourself.
Life is loud. We live in the age of TVs, the internet, smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, iPods, rush hours and work. In a world filled with noise and commotion, learn to appreciate those moments when all is silent. Take ten minutes every day. Switch off your phone and tell the world to do one for a bit.
Learn the difference between strong and hard
Take it from someone who still falls back on the ‘I am an island’ mentality. Islands are lonely. Hard people are usually just very, very frightened, so they’ve made themselves impervious. You see, when something is impervious, it doesn’t need to be strong because it can’t be damaged. Accept your vulnerable side. You’re not weak, you’re just human. We all need a cuddle sometimes.
Fall in love
Love can’t be ‘created’ and it can’t be stopped. Love doesn’t adhere to a schedule or a timetable — it just happens. If you love someone and they feel the same, grab them, hold on to them and never let them go. It’s terrifying, wonderful, exhausting, painful, exhilarating and ridiculous — and it should be experienced whether it ends up hurting you or not.
Nothing beats a hug from a child who loves you
Seriously, it’s the most unconditional love there is.
A smile can make someone’s day.
Really, it can. Think about the last time someone said, “have a nice day” and meant it. Think about how nice it felt. We spend half our lives scowling at people who get in our way. So next time someone steps on your foot, just smile at them and see how good it feels when you get one back.
Don’t be in a hurry to grow up
Every day I see kids trying to be older than they are. Stop it. You’ll be an adult for way longer than you’ll be a kid, so learn to enjoy it while you still can. When you’re lying in bed at the age of thirty, worrying about mortgage payments, divorces, children and grey hairs, you’ll long for the days when the biggest worry in life was whether you had enough pocket money for a new X-Box game.
Make mistakes, fuck up, fall down and get back up again. It’s human nature to make mistakes, but that shouldn’t stop you from living. Don’t be the person who gets to the end of their life and says “I wish” — be the person who says “I did”.
“Don’t regret anything you do — because in the end, it makes you who you are.”
— ‘Closer To The Edge’ by 30 Seconds to Mars
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