Friday, June 27, 2008

advice like youth, probably wasted on the young... mary schmich

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. Scientists have proven the long-term benefits of sunscreen, 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-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 celebrate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. 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 is worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.


Melanie said...

I've always just loved this! Thank you for posting and reminding me of it - how perfect.

cara. said...

haha. isn't that funny?

Thew said...

Floss is numero uno here at the BB.

katrina said...

i love this

please sir said...

I LOVE that song - such a great motivation!

I *Heart* You said...

i too have always loved this. the advice is so simple yet so important. thanks for sharing and i love your blog! :)

jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jamie said...

i came across a link to your blog from another one, and i love it! it is incredibly inspiring. thank you so much for sharing all of your creativity and kindness!

hayliebird said...

i love this. i also love that she says to live in nyc at least once, uh oh! maybe i really should. i think i have a plan. in just a year or so, i have a feeling i will be done here in Ph., and on my way out- maybe i will live in nyc for a short while! doesn't that sound good? i hope you & ed will have a spare room for me to stay in, or a couch would work too:) i miss you.

Joslyn said...

i love this. and yes, yes, yes on the sunscreen

Katrina Lynn said...

This is the kind of thing you come across from time to time and often its effect is diluted over time. However, I think it's so important to remember and realize that it is SO TRUE!

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