Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them

I have just returned from a fantastic vacation in which I drove 2,000 miles round-trip. By myself.

You may or may not be like me, but I assume that if you were to be ‘stuck’ in a car for about six to eight hours at a time, your mind might just run off in all sorts of directions. Over-thinking situations that have come and gone or just wondering about things that might have been. I have a horrid habit of letting my mind run and throw doubt into myself left and right; yet, whenever this happens, there is only one thing that can make it all come to a grinding halt.

I originally heard this track when I was eight years old on “Now! That’s What I Call Music: Volume 2.” At first, I would absentmindedly skip over it, thinking that the spoken word track was nothing more than a lecture that my parents would give me. However, as I grew older, the track seemed to find it’s way back into my life.

Advice, Like Youth, Probably just Wasted on the Young” was written by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune in 1997 as an attempted commencement speech. I must say, she nailed it. This speech, whether being read or listened to, is something everyone should experience at least once. Or, again, if you’re like me – whenever you need to stop your mind from filling you with doubt.

I guess it is true what Schmich says, advice is wasted on the young. It wasn’t until my college years that these words started to make sense and really hit home. The best part of this entire speech is that she doesn’t stop to explain the meaning behind her advice – because it’s just that relevant.

Overall, there are two pieces of advice that I automatically recite whenever I hear Baz Luhrmann’s voice come over my stereo system. Maybe it’s because these are two things that I find the most important or maybe it’s because they hold the most relevance in my life, but that doesn’t matter. The first of the two is this:

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

In college, it is hard to fully cooperate with this mentality. You don’t know who you are yet and you’re not quite sure what kind of person you want to be with, but regardless it is important to make sure to respect everyone’s feelings as if they were your own. I will be the first to say that this was never really present in my mind until it turned around and bit me in the ass. So it’s fair to say that what I was taught as a child will remain true, especially when it comes to matters of the heart – treat others how you would want to be treated. The next is not as, well, cheesy:

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.

Ever since I was 11 I had some idea of what I wanted to do with my life, but have never been 100% sure. To be frank, nothing drives me more insane than when people ask me what I want to do with my life now that I’m graduated. My mom still says that she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, so why do I have to be certain? Life is all about discovering yourself and what you love and you’re never going to know without trying everything that catches your eye.

So, if you ever have seven minutes to set your mind free of all forms of doubt or stress, just turn on this track and let Schmich’s words wash over you in the soothing voice of Baz Luhrmann. It might not all sink in right away, but give it a try or two and I promise it will resonate with you in some way, shape or form.

Trust me on the sunscreen.

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