Baz Luhrmann

Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

delivered 1998 by Baz Luhrmann, Original lyrics by Mary Schmich


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio. (2)]

  Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '99: 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 youíll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you canít grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

You are not as fat as you imagine.

Donít 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 4:00 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.


Donít be reckless with other peopleís hearts; donít put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Donít waste your time on jealousy; sometimes youíre ahead; sometimes youíre behind; the race is long, and in the end itís 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.


Donít feel guilty if you donít know what you wanna do with your life; the most interesting people I know didnít know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still donít.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees; youíll miss them when theyíre gone.

Maybe youíll marry -- maybe you wonít. Maybe youíll have children -- maybe you wonít. Maybe youíll divorce at 40 -- maybe youíll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, donít congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either -- your choices are half chance; so are everybody elseís.

Enjoy your body; use it every way you can. Donít be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. Itís the greatest instrument youíll ever own.


Even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you donít follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines; they will only make you feel ugly.


Get to know your parents; you never know when theyíll 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 for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography, in lifestyle, because the older you get the more you need the people you knew 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 truths: prices will rise; politicians will philander; you too will get old, and when you do youíll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

  Respect your elders.

Donít 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.

Donít 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 itís worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Reaearch Note: Original Lyrics by Mary Schmich (June, 1997). Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young. Chicago Tribune. Available at:

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