On this day in 1997, the words that were 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, is 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, 14-years later we take up that mantle and the #sunscreenchallenge was born.
Each blogger spent 1-hour creating a graduation speech. Essentially, it’s the advice that they’d pass onto school leavers today based on their own life experience. If you’ve enjoyed the blog – please RT the post, include the #sunscreenchallenge tag and find other blog posts using this hashtag.
I’m horrendous at taking advice. I’ll invariably listen to it, nodding my head and saying ‘yep, I totally agree, I know, you’re right, of course…’, and the minute it’s done being dispensed I’ll tip my head up and it’ll all pour out my ear and fall in the gutter. That’s why for many reasons I’m not entirely certain why I’m doing this. I’ve made my own mistakes all my life and, to be completely honest, I think I’m a better person for it. I have very few regrets, and they are almost invariably things I didn’t do as opposed to things I did do.
Maybe advice isn’t something you’re supposed to give, because you’re taking someone’s mistake away. I don’t want to call this ‘advice’; it makes it sound too prescriptive. Instead, I’m just going to say ‘these are mine…but you can borrow them if you want’…
- Don’t eat toast for every meal. Seriously. It’s easy, I know, it’s always there, but there are so many other things that you can make. Really delicious stuff that you’ll sit down to, serve to your partner or kids, have at a dinner party or whatever, and you’ll think ‘wow…I can’t believe I made this myself.’
- Find a piece of pop-culture that you can obsess about and geek out over. When you meet another person who has that in common with you, the connection will be instant. Buffy is a good start, or other sci-fi. The more people look at you like you’re crazy when you enthuse about it, the better.
- Be nice to waiters, barmen and shop workers. There’s no need, you’re not going to get anything for cheaper, but you can make their day with a smile and a joke.
- If you want to bust a move, do it, regardless of where you are. The worst someone can do is think you’re weird for dancing in the street.
- There’s very little anyone can say about you that you shouldn’t take with a smile. The ruder someone is about you, the more upsetting it is for them when you turn around, give them a beatific smile and forget about it, and the more satisfying it is to see them throw a hissy because they’re not getting to you.
- Honesty is only appropriate where the damage it will do is outweighed by the repair you can do as a result. Don’t be honest if you’re only going to hurt people; be honest when you know you’ll help.
- Wait for the perfect one, and be sure of it before you tell them you love them.
- Take every risk once. EVERYTHING. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it again. If you do like it, understand it’s a risk, and be safe. There’s nothing worse than wondering ‘what if?’. Just know that risks tend to hurt, so be ready to take the pain then shift on. Remember the proverb ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’.
- Don’t trust proverbs. ‘You catch more flies with honey than vinegar’? Not true. Put out a plate of balsamic vinegar and one of honey and see which gets more. ‘Sticks and stones’? Bullshit. ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’? Why? Don’t listen to them. Decide your own proverbs; don’t listen to the ones people have been ignoring for thousands of years.
- Stand up for what you believe in, but remember it’s only what you believe in. People will have different views to you, and you’ll meet them everywhere. If you need to change their opinion, though, don’t shout and scream and tell them they’re wrong, because it won’t work. Prove them wrong instead by being reasonable, friendly, and completely truthful. Give them the same benefit though, by changing your mind when you’re proved wrong back.
I can’t tell you I’ve always done all of these, because I’d be lying. I do know they’re what I do now, and I don’t want to change them yet. They’ve worked for me and I feel good as a result. Like I say, though, I’m not telling you these are the only ways to live your life…but you’re welcome to borrow them, if you like. And if you don’t like mine, then go look at someone else’s, but decide for yourself how you want to live.