At this time of year, there are a lot of young adults entering into another phase of their lives. College seniors just graduated in May and hopefully entering the workforce. A lot of high school seniors just graduated in June and will be moving away from home and going to college. Most likely, they will be getting a lot of advice from friends and family in the coming weeks and months. In 1999, Australian film director Baz Luhrmann produced a song titled “everybody’s free (to wear SUNSCREEN) The Sunscreen Song (Class of ’99)” or better known as “The Sunscreen Song” that has some of the best advice anyone can give. Luhrmann has also directed mainstream films such as Romeo + Juliet (1996), Moulin Rogue (2001), Australia (2008), and The Great Gatsby (2013). The Sunscreen Song was a very popular song in 1999 and based on a 1997 article in the Chicago Tribune by Mary Schmich titled “”Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”. The song directly addresses the graduating classes of 1999. I was 14 years old and about to enter high school in 1999 so I was not the target demographic of the song. However, it was one of the songs I enjoyed listening to on the radio that year and I appreciated it for the wisdom it was trying to give to me. At 28, I am twice as old and able to appreciate the song a little more. Nevertheless, I will probably not fully appreciate it until many more years from now. Of course, the main message is to wear sunscreen. The sun can be very dangerous such as being a cause of skin cancer. While we should definitely enjoy the sun and being outside, we also need to be smart and protect ourselves against it by wearing sunscreen. As the opening of the song notes, “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”.
Regardless of whether it can be scientifically proven, the Sunscreen Song has a lot of great messages I agree with from my own personal experiences. Some of the best lyrics and advice in the song include:
1) Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
2) Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. 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.
3) Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
7) Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.
8) Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
9) Understand that friends come and go, but for the 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 you knew when you were young.
10) 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.
I wish everyone a Happy 4th of July. Enjoy your family and friends, parties, and barbecues. Enjoy being outside but be safe. I will end the exact same way as the song. I do not want to preach but “But trust me on the sunscreen” if you have to just take one thing from this article.