October 23, 2005


Posted in Behaviour at 17:05 by graham

The best advice I have every been given was to take the highest paying job you can get until you figure out what you want to do.

The best advice I have ever heard is the now famous speech below:

Wear Sunscreen By _Mary Schmich_ from the The Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1997

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

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 they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way 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 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 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


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.

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


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 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-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 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yoursel f 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 greatest 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 one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 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 it’s worth .

But trust me on the sunscreen.

This speech was set to music Baz Luhrmann and performed by Quindon Tarver, and called ‘EVERYBODY’S FREE (to wear sunscreen)’.

An e-mail hoax claimed that this speech was made by Kurt Vonnegut to the MIT class of 1997. The actual commencement address was made by Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, and can be found here.

1 Comment »

  1. graham said,

    October 31, 2005 at 20:02

    Imran , Fri Aug 12 19:10:12 2005 :

    Hi, I Love You irrespective of nation,cast creed….. work hard show the world either you give me my share and my respect or it would be too late.

    shriimran@rediffmail.com (please keep informing me about latest developments.Regards-Imran)

    Kilo , Sun Jul 10 18:42:45 2005 :

    Incredible! Truly incredible! These words seem to have risen from a certain collective conscience. The state of awareness that transcedes them is utterly unbelievable.I am sure that this is only the tip of the iceberg. This fellow should be published world-wide. Not only his words but what lies beyond (especially what is not spoken here is of the essence!) them made me think a lot about many things. It’s just great and i too love it.

    l_b_free , Tue May 3 07:00:45 2005 :

    I found the words to be very truthful in the basic understanding (or I should perhaps say- in the individual’s ever continual search into a/each/every person’s own basic, natural life essence. What came in mind to me as I read the words several times is that presence of it’s dual-edged message(s). Words that, throughout it’s entirety, openly and convincingly tell us all the absolute truth of the way, how, and why each indiviadual should be percieving, accept- ing, living, teaching to others in order to maintain and perpetuate it’s thruths.

    chipo , Mon Mar 7 10:10:17 2005 :

    i love it

    Linda Lesher , Tue Feb 24 22:13:35 2004 :

    I was looking for advice and found some really good advice hear thanks I really enjoyed this, Mary Schmich

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