Benefits of sunscreen: Lowers risks of skin cancer. Prevents premature aging. Helps you...achieve your life goals?

If you still remember a certain summer 20 years ago, when streaming music services were virtually nonexistent -- you may have heard Aussie film director Baz Luhrmann's hit song "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)" playing on the radio. As it rose to the top of the charts, a voice advised listeners:

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

Floss.

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."

As it turned out, these words weren't written by Luhrmann -- they actually came from Mary Schmich's newspaper column, "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young," which was published in the Chicago Tribute in June 1997. The essay serves as a hypothetical commencement speech, and begins with Schmich asking new graduates to "wear sunscreen."

"If I could offer you only one tip for the future," she explains, "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."

What follows, after these obvious words about sunscreen, however, is incredibly valuable insight, from the inspirational -- "Do one thing every day that scares you" -- to the practical -- "Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum."

Although the column is simple, it remains powerfully effective. At the time, it even became one of the first texts to go viral in the early internet age. Funny enough, at some point someone stripped Mary Schmich's name off the column and pasted on Kurt Vonnegut's, who definitely did not pen the words.

Today, 20 years later, Mary's advice still resonates. Once you read the column, you'll find yourself caring for your skin, and for your dreams as well.

Published on: Feb 23, 2018