wear sunscreen.

Thirteen years ago Mary Schmich wrote a poem. The poem was meant as a graduation speech and a compilation of life advice that a person would give to young men and women who are about to embark on their “real-life” journey. I came across this poem a few months ago, but it wasn’t in poem form, it was through a musical adaptation that Baz Luhrman had done. The poem begins, “Ladies and Gentleman, 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.”

Recently I had the phrase “wear sunscreen.” tattooed on my left wrist. It is meant to be a constant reminder of the advice that is dispensed throughout that poem. Advice that is so evident, so simple, and so true, but in our day to day struggles we forget about the simple things. It is easy to get caught up in the present moment, to think that whatever is happening in your life is the end all of everything, but this poem reminds me that life is a series of events, you cannot get caught up in the drama of everyday life, it will only make things harder for you. I would like to share Mary’s poem with you now:

Wear Sunscreen.

“Ladies and Gentleman,

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 enjoy the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded.

But trust me.

In twenty years,

you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way that you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future, or worry, but know worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.

The real trouble in your life is apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at four p.m.on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts.

Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy.

Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are 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.

Keep your old love letters.

Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at twenty-two what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting forty-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get Plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t.

Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t.

Maybe you’ll divorce at forty, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your seventy-fifth wedding anniversary.

Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either.

Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can.

Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greets instrument you’ll ever own.

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

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

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

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They’re 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, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you.

Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty it will look eighty-five.

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.

But trust me on the sunscreen.”

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