Way back in 1997 when I was working in the Middle East, a friend sent me a copy of the Chicago Tribune commencement editorial by Mary Schmich. She began her if-I-was-invited-to-speak-to-the Class of 1997 speech with “Wear sunscreen” as her most important (scientifically proven) advice. There was much more, but what she knew for sure – sunscreen works.
Maybe I didn’t need much sunscreen in Washington, D.C. (where I ended up working after graduation) but slathering large quantities on every morning became an important daily necessity for this fair-skinned red head traipsing about the Middle East.
Just ten minutes in bright Middle Eastern sunshine fried me (especially my skin.)
So, sunscreen is important. That was sage advice.
Since 1997 marked the 10th anniversary of my university graduation, it set me thinking: wracking up 10 years of wisdom and (some good, some not-so-good) experience, perhaps I could add tidbits to Mary’s Schmich’s list (in addition to sunscreen.)
Dusting them off, here they are…
(& learners of any age today)
Don’t be afraid to do something unexpected or go against the grain of what all your friends are doing. Life is not a competition.
Be open to new things.
Be FLEXIBLE. Flexibility is one of the most important tools in your toolkit.
Don’t give up, even when you think you’ve tried everything. Do something else, think outside what is boxing you in, then try again.
Be nice to others (always.) What goes around comes around – if someone’s not nice to you, it’s on them (not you.)
It’s important to keep up your strength. Eat chocolate.
Keep short accounts with others. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger (it festers overnight.) Deal with stuff, then move on. Don’t revisit it a week from now.
Don’t do all work and no play. Work and (after work) play – you will work better.
Make time to be with your friends. Make time to be with your family. When you’re far away (or they’re gone) you will treasure shared times more than you can imagine.
Take pictures. They are a record of you, your family & friends.
Moderation (in all things) is an admirable goal, something to work on (& towards.) It’s not easy, so expect inner resistance. You can strategically triage moderation (until you get the hang of it) but meanwhile it’s ok to have a little extra chocolate.
Be grateful for (at least) one thing every day.
Don’t be afraid of words like ‘unique’ and ‘unusual.’
You are you: nobody else is you.
Value people more than things: things are tools, people are jewels.
Forgiveness sets us free from replaying the hurts of others (over & over & over again.) What happened, happened. Unforgiveness makes it keep happening.
Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Be free.
Stand up against injustice – whenever, however, wherever you can.
Don’t let others drag you down, lift them up.
Appreciate others. Show you care.
Take care of yourself. Exercise (it releases stress.) A little pampering every now and then is not a bad thing.
Don’t give in to hate. Eradicate it from your mind and heart. Seek love, and be love. When hate bashes you in the face, (try to) be love.
Love diffuses hate (even if it may take awhile.)
Life is a journey. You can’t reach mountaintops without traveling through a few valleys.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Faith is important. Believe.
Sometimes (most times) it’s not always about you, it’s about others.
Build bridges of understanding, not walls of apathetic indifference.
Life is a gift. Value it.
Oh, and wear sunscreen (especially if you’re a red head!)
Virginia : )
p.s. Be on the lookout later this week. When Virginia (in 2017) marked 30 years since leaving university, she came up with another (wiser?) list. Wearing sunscreen is still on it!