Mary Schmich Wear Sunscreen Speech

Mary Schmich Wear Sunscreen Speech

Mary Schmich Wear Sunscreen Speech

Mary Schmich Wear Sunscreen Speech

A dear friend posted this in her Facebook yesterday sharing this great column written by Mary Schmich in Chicago Tribune 1997. Mary posted a challenge to anyone over 26 to entertain themselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates. Who knows, some day we just might be invited to share some words of wisdom with an audience of caps and gowns? What words of wisdom would you have shared with an audience of graduates?

I believe when you read this Wear Sunscreen Speech by Mary Schmich below, you would be able to relate to some of the things she had written just like I did and hope that you will enjoy reading this speech as much as I did too.

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 p.m. 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-old 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 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. 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.
Photo credit: Photo by Brook

Stalk me
Share the joy

26 thoughts on “Mary Schmich Wear Sunscreen Speech

  1. Sherxr

    Oh yes yes I posted the link. Recalled this song played on the radio few years ago. Loved the lyrics and wondered where it came from. It wasn’t hard to find with Google.

    This speech brought out a lot of things we may already know but hey, we need to be reminded time to time. Just makes living a little easier!
    .-= Sherxr´s last blog ..Blog Blog Blog =-.

  2. Jannie Funster

    Okay, this is great!!

    After I post this I’m off to dance and stretch, then floss my teeth, bathe, slather on sunscreen, call my mother and sing. Well, I’ll be singing ALL the way through each of these!! Yep, one can floss and sing or (at least hum) at the same time! 🙂

    And yep — it really is me, I’m switching my email addy to this one.

    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Let’s Drink Up The Stars (lyrics draft) =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Sher, yes, you are my dear friend. Thank you for sharing this speech by Mary Schmich; I could relate to it almost immediately and knew that I wanted to share this here. With Google nowadays, it isn’t really hard to find something. Just hope that we don’t lose the ability to find information in the library too. I agree with you that the speech brought out a lot of points which most of us may already know and have gone through and yet a little reminder now and then certainly does help us.

      @ Homemom3, it is certainly quite true. I’m sure your family and friends will enjoy and have fun reading this too.

      @ Jenny, yes, this was written by Mary way back in 1997. However, things are funny sometimes, they don’t come up to you until it is time for them to show.

      @ Jannie, I could almost imagine you dancing and stretching, then flossing … alright, forget about the bathing part. I love the idea of flossing and singing as it makes flossing less boring and more enjoyable. I love singing while I am walking home late at night. Just have to do more of it. :o)

  3. Hilary

    Hi BK .. don’t they make us think back .. to the wonders of stretchy skin, to non-aching joints, or bumps and bruises gone in a couple of days!

    Oh well – we have our memories and experiences – plenty to draw on .. and don’t have to buy sunscreen very often!

    Great post- have a fun weekend ..Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Dumbarton and Corgarff Castles =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Jacqueline, thank you for dropping by. Wishing you a lovely merry happy week and love to you.

      @ Dora, congrats on being nominated as one of the top 10 finalists. :o)

  4. Tina T

    What a great speech. I kept reading and thinking “this is my favorite part” until I’d read a little further and have a new favorite line. I wish that we had a speaker like this when I was graduating, this was truly wonderful. Of course if I had heard this when I was graduation age I’m sure I wouldn’t have appreciated the wisdom and wit of it.
    .-= Tina T´s last blog ..Should You Move for Love? =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Tina, I agree with you that if we were read this during our graduation time, many wouldn’t appreciate the wisdom and wit of it at all. I couldn’t remember a thing from my own graduation now.

  5. Faye

    Thank you for sharing, this is touching. If not for my dearest brother who has gone to pursue his path recently, I may not understand what you wrote so well.. not been kind to myself.