The Wear Sunscreen Speech

Yesterday’s Podcast, ESL Podcast 374, was about a graduation ceremony.graduation_2006.jpg

In 1997, an article by a writer, Mary Schmich, was published in the Chicago Tribune newspaper. It was called, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.” In the writer’s introduction to the article, she said that this was the commencement address or speech she would give if she were ever asked to give one.

This speech became very popular. Many people thought it was clever and funny. In fact, it became so popular, that in 1999, Baz Luhrmann, the well known Australian movie director (of the movie Moulin Rouge) put the speech to music.

Here is the article and the song.

~ Lucy

“Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young”
by Mary Schmich

‘Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97: Wear sunscreen (lotion to protect you from the sun).

If I could offer you only one tip (piece of advice) 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 (foundation) more reliable than my own meandering (not on a straight path) experience. I will dispense (give) 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 (become pale; no longer with bright color). But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall (remember) in a way you can’t grasp (understand) now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous (wonderful) 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 (math problem) by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt (likely) to be things that never crossed your worried mind (became a thought in your mind), the kind that blind side (happen to you when you don’t expect it to) you at 4 pm on some idle (not busy) Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


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

Floss (clean between your teeth with string).

Don’t waste your time on jealousy (wishing you had/are what other people have/are). Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments (good things other people say about you) you receive. Forget the insults (bad things other people say about you). If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

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

Stretch (make straight your body and muscles, usually before exercise).

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 know.

Get plenty of calcium (a mineral that is good for building strong bones in your body). 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 (funny looking dance) on your 75th anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate (criticize) 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 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 (completely; finally).

Be nice to your siblings (brothers and sisters). They’re your best link (connection) to your past and the people most likely to stick (stay) with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious (valuable) few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps (make the distance smaller) in geography (land and people on Earth) and lifestyle (the way you live), 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.


Accept certain inalienable (cannot be take away) truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander (have love affairs). You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize (dream) that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble (show fine qualities), and children respected their elders (people who are older). Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund (amount of money left to you by parents or other wealthy relatives). Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse (husband or wife). But you never know when either one might run out (have nothing left; disappear).

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 (looking back at good, past times). Dispensing it is a way of fishing (finding and taking out) the past from the disposal (the machine under your sink that cuts up food into small pieces to wash away), wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling (using again) it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

This entry was posted in Discussing the Episodes, News and Current Events. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Wear Sunscreen Speech

  1. Alexey says:

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Gulls says:

    Some sayings to read by teenager graduates.

    Don’t worry about the future.

    The mind is like a parachute,
    it only functions when its open.

    When you stop learning you start dying.

    Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.
    (Anna Freud)

    The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals,
    not spewed out by groups.
    (Charles Browder)

  3. Fred says:

    Very good !

    T h a n k y o u v e r y m u c h !

  4. Grzegorz says:

    Ok, that was a bit difficult, but reminds me some 21 years old guy who likes to sing 😉

  5. Wilma says:

    Very good! Thank you Lucy for sharing with us this wonderful speech. Wisdom is in it from the very beginning and Sunscreen is a harsh reality!

  6. Ari Fernando Ramos says:

    Very long, but very succint.

  7. emiliano says:

    Yes, very very good. I like it just a lot, despite I have to read it carefully to understand everything.
    Thank’s Lucy.

  8. Elham says:

    Very Useful to me
    thank you
    hope to remember and apply them

  9. Mark says:

    Yes, good by why explain everything in brackets? (like this) – very annoying

  10. dave says:

    The music was a bit too overpowering. Nice message other wise.

Comments are closed.