In the late ’90′s there was a song by Baz Lurhman that was taken from a column written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich. The text to Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen was something that has stuck with me over the years. Someday, when I’m rich and famous, I hope to deliver the commencement address to TheMonk and Swee’Pea’s graduating high school class. This, I imagine, is what I’ll say…
TheMonk, Swee’Pea, and the class of 2023.
Update your virus protection.
The longterm benefits of protecting your computer from worms, trojans and other malicious viruses has been well-documented. The rest of the so-called “wisdom” I’m about to impart may, in fact, be a bunch of crap. But here it goes anyway…
Don’t ever utter the phrase, “What will other people think?” The minute you start living your lives based on what others may think of you, you will stop really living. The better question is, “What do I think and what will I think of this 1, 5 or 10 years from now?”
Don’t go barefoot in the garage. Proving you never stop learning, my wife taught me this when we moved into our first home together. Because she’s always right, I’m passing this info onto you.
Love others but, just as important, love yourself. If you love yourself – imperfections and all – others will be drawn to you in a way you never imagined. Love truly is what makes the world go ’round but it has to start with yourself first. Look in the mirror. Do you love what you see? You’d better, because if you don’t love it, who will?
Don’t spend money you don’t have. This may seem like a simple concept, but millions of your fellow citizens haven’t caught on. You can be smarter than the rest of them by remembering that credit card companies are evil. The number one stress in most people’s lives has to do with money. Don’t let that be you – it’s much harder to start over than never to go down that road to begin with.
While we’re on the topic of stress… You will encounter stress at all turns in life. Stress is only negative when you choose to perceive it that way. Often, the best ideas come from stressful situations. We think best when stretched beyond our comfort zone. The butterflies in your stomach can be perceived as a bundle of nerves or it can be perceived as potential ready to burst out of every cell in your body. Let that potential overpower all doubt. Embrace the butterflies and potential will become reality.
Don’t ever ask, “Do I look fat?”
Give to charity. When you give to others, it comes back to you in ways you cannot imagine. If you cannot give money, then give time. Time is a precious resource but when you spend some of it giving to those less fortunate, time stands still – for you and for those you help.
Continue your education. Some of you may already be educated from the School of Hard Knocks but going to school will be one of the greatest investments you can make. Get your AA, your BA, your MA, your MBA or your MD. Just get it. In school, find your passion and pursue it with all of your might! Follow your passion with fervor and success will follow.
Make funny faces at children you don’t know.
For that matter, don’t let your inner-child disappear. Dance in the streets! Sing out loud! Play the Hokey Pokey. Laugh when you think of something funny. Show me where it says that once you reach adulthood you have to be so serious. Where is it written that adulthood is so much better that we must forget the joys of youth? Don’t forget. Your children will thank you for it (that is, when they’re not being embarrassed by you).
Don’t buy cheap chocolate. Some things are just worth the money.
Make new friends but keep the old ones. As an adult, making new friends is hard. You no longer have the easy avenues that school creates to form solid bonds with those around you. It’s difficult to put yourself out there in exchange for a mutually beneficial relationship. Do it anyway. However, knowing these challenges exist, nurture the important relationships you already have. Those sitting next to you may one day be your child’s godparents or perhaps your Friday night out. These people will know you in ways few others ever will. Don’t take it for granted.
Exercise. You’ll be glad you did.
Be kind to Senior Citizens. And I’m not just saying this because soon, I’ll be in that category. Our seniors are the ties to our past. Don’t ignore them, learn from them. Show them respect because, someday, you’ll be there yourself wondering where the time went.
Be kind to seniors but, also, be kind to teenagers. Believe it or not, one day you will look at people not too different than you are now and you’ll see them with a different eye. Fight the urge to judge those who are struggling to find their identity as they emerge into adulthood. Remember who you are at this moment. Don’t forget the good you know is in each of you. It will help you relate to a different generation in years to come. Our world needs more generational-unity. Not less.
Don’t eat processed cheese.
The lessons you’ve learned in childhood apply equally well in adulthood. Running with scissors is still a bad idea. So is eating paste. Sharing what you have with others will always be noble while hitting is generally frowned upon. Holding hands with those you love will never get old and first kisses are still pretty awesome.
Adulthood does have it’s pluses, which you’ll find out. While first kisses are awesome, kissing your spouse every day for 23 years is pretty awesome too. Not having homework is nice until you suddenly find yourself trying to help your own child do his or her homework and haven’t a clue what you’re looking at. As for children, may you one day wake up and hear the pitter patter of little feet. May you hear the glee in the laughter of a child you helped create and may you sit back and marvel at the wonders that life has to bestow.
You have your whole life in front of you. You’ll make some mistakes. Of course, you will. But don’t let the mistakes define you. Instead, focus on each small success that you encounter. Celebrate life in its simplest form. If you do this, your life will be happy, content. And that’s all anyone should ask for.
But don’t forget the virus protection.