Remember the graduation speech that turned into a song back in the late 90’s? You know that “Wear Sunscreen” speech, aka “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”? Well, it wasn’t actually a real graduation speech. It was an essay written by a woman named Mary Schmich that was published by the Chicago Tribune in 1997. She used her wisdom at the time to write what she would have read as a speech if a school had asked her to be a commencement speaker.
Even though she didn’t actually read it at a graduation when she wrote it, her “speech” became a HUGE hit, although not many people were/are aware she’s the author behind it. A lot of that was due to an urban legend that spread around claiming Kurt Vonnegut had written it for an commencement speech at MIT.
Mary ended up publishing an adaptation of the essay as a gift book and also gave permission to Buz Luhrmann, an Auzzie film director, to use her text in a song. Luhrmann had it remixed to Rozalla’s “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” which was part of the soundtrack to William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, the movie Luhrmann directed featuring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. Remember that?!
Nostalgia & Motivation
Anyways, I have a lot of memories associated with the lyrics of the wear sunscreen song. And the older I get, the more the words stick with me. It’s a favorite in my ipod and one of my go to tracks whenever I want a pick me up or a motivational boost.
Now without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite quotes in the order they appear, along with some of my notes.
“The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.”
So often we get caught up about petty things and lose sight of the big picture. My blindsided moment came on what had been an uneventful Friday up until 6:14pm when my dad called and told me he had cancer. I was not prepared for that. Fortunately he found out early and is on the road of recovery now. I still try to remind myself how my priorities changed in that minute though because it helps me stay humble and continually count my blessings. Life is precious, we must all remember that.
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”
It took me a while to understand the power of this quote. No, it’s not talking about doing something violent or illegal, but about taking risks! Challenge yourself and try new things. I used to be a total wimp but once I started letting go of my fears and taking risks, my life changed completely!
“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.”
Priceless. Jealousy is so sneaky and can easily devour all of your courage, happiness, and dreams if you’re not careful. We have to focus on improving our own weaknesses and breaking our own records and limits to truly make progress and find happiness in ourselves.
“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.”
I used to listen to this over and over, esp. when I was in college and after I moved out to San Francisco. It used to frustrate me that college created more questions in my mind when I was searching for answers. I wanted a neon light bulb to illuminate and present me with a crystal clear career path. That never happened. Once I accepted that it’s OK not to know everything and to go seek out and try new things, I stopped worrying and started taking action.
“Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.”
Oh man. The truth in this quote didn’t hit me until the last few years. While I realize my body is still quite young, I already feel aches, pins, and pangs in my knees. I had my knee give out on me a few times when I tried to run up the stairs 2 at a time in my late 20’s – ouch. Now I do knee exercises several times a week to help keep them strong.
“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…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.”
This has always brought me comfort and makes me smile. My parents divorced when I was young and it made me scared of getting married for the longest time. We never know what tomorrow will bring so we need to live in the moment. Right now I’m not ashamed to admit I have no idea if I want to have kids someday. That used to worry me so much until I learned to embrace the unknown.
“Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.”
It’s sad a lot of times when we grow apart from our friends, but that’s life. Our interests change, our lives change, and our friends change. I have a few really close friends that truly are precious that I feel connected with even when we are thousands of miles apart.
Traveling is my outlet, my inspiration, my way of staying sane. I stopped spending money on new clothes and random stuff because the thrill fades very fast. Travel memories and adventures last a lifetime.
“Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.”
I like this one because it emphasizes the importance of being independent and prepared. My parents have always had money problems so I knew pretty early if I wanted to live comfortably on my own I needed to do well in school, get a good job, and build my savings. It’s kept me on my toes, helped me stay frugal, and given me freedom.
“But trust me on the sunscreen…”
I never leave home without it!
Untemplaters, what were doing when this speech/song became popular? Do you have favorite quotes from it or remember the commencement speech from your own graduation?