Mary Schmich

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Mary Theresa Schmich is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Her June 1, 1997 column, commonly referred to as "Wear sunscreen", was widely attributed on the Internet to a Kurt Vonnegut commencement address at M.I.T. It was later published as a book and released as a popular recording.


"Wear Sunscreen" (1997)

newspaper colummn originally published in the Chicago Tribune as "Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young" (June 1, 1997)

  • Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. ... [T]rust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
  • Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with those who are reckless with yours.
  • Don't waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
  • Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
  • Don't 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 of them might run out.


  • Good art is art that allows you to enter it from a variety of angles and to emerge with a variety of views.
  • Consider the lowly word if. If can launch any accusation into the public arena in the guise of fact. If can poison a life as surely as cyanide. Grease a sentence with if and you can skid from speculation to impeachment in the time it takes to say, Tricky Dick.
  • You can map your life through your favorite movies, and no two people's maps will be the same.
  • The movies we love and admire are to some extent a function of who we are when we see them.
  • You can figure out who you were by which movies you loved when.
  • TV happens. And once it's happened, it's gone. When it's gone, you move on, no tears, no tantrums, no videotape.
  • All this situation does is remind people of the incredible power and potency of the Internet.
  • Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.

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