Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
Many of you recognize that from Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” and are now humming the tune to yourself. The words actually came from an article called “Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young” and was meant as a commencement address, if Mary Schmidt had actually been asked to make one.
This advice, along with every other line in the article, is quintessential for all who contemplate, wander, wonder, evaluate their life in one way or another… but I believe that most of all, it’s the current college students that need to hear it, not just the graduates, or not so recent graduates.
Stop wasting your college years. To a degree everyone does; I know I did. But just stop. Be responsible, do your best to excel in your classes, but don’t put so much pressure on yourself to get Dean’s List every semester that your homework and papers and studying becomes your entire life.
….. That was my exact mistake. In essence, college is about new experiences, making mistakes, learning what works for you and what doesn’t, and making sure you have the most fun possible. That’s not to say that you can’t have fun once you graduate; in fact, many people do. And while it’s important to retain your youthful silliness, it becomes increasingly more difficult to do so the farther into the realm of the “real world” you journey. You’ve heard this advice so many times it’s like beating a dead horse, I know, but I’ll keep saying it until you listen, because I know you’re not taking it to heart. I didn’t.
A year and a half after my own graduation I am ready to admit that I did not get the most out of my college experience as I had the potential to. On the day of my graduation I was in denial and would have assured you that I did. I’m the one that made Dean’s List every semester (except my very last… senioritis, what can I say) and I made life long friends, I loved my college, I had fun. But I worried so much about my future that I missed out on countless opportunities to enhance my college experience. I was chewing bubblegum.
But keep in mind…. “trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum” is different than trying to solve an algebra equation WHILE chewing bubblegum. That’s what Mary is saying in that particular line. Worry. Go ahead and worry, but don’t let that worry get in the way of experiencing great things and overcoming great challenges. Worry is meant to challenge you. Worrying about what you will do with your life proves that you care, that you have integrity. But if you let that worry take over and dictate how you spend every moment of your life, you will lose out on much more than you have the potential to gain.
Have confidence in the decisions you make; you are not going in the wrong direction. Your path will become difficult, but it is the right one. At some point in time you will suddenly discover you are on a different path… that is the right one, too. Because the truth is… every path is right as long as your intent is to learn and grow, because every one you choose will provide you with some experience or challenge or other that will allow you to do so. Accept that nothing is certain. LIFE IS FUN, but we will not experience real life unless we take charge of our worries.
There are limitless possibilities in fun, but none in worry.
I listened to this on repeat while writing this, so you should listen, too: