About seven years ago, around the time of my high school graduation, I was inspired by the words from a popular speech called, “Wear Sunscreen.” As a new high school grad, I found the words to be motivational and even somewhat comical. The part about sunscreen never made sense to me and I disregarded it completely wondering why the writer even included such nonsense in this wonderful speech. That is until about a week ago…
Take notes my friends:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, 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.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth.
Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded.
But trust 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 worry about the future.
Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts.
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
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.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
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.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t.
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t.
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary.
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either.
Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body.
Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it.
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
Dance – even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions., even if you don’t follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.
Work hard 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.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths:
Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old.
And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
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 one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.
It’s rainy season in most parts of Thailand so I keep a good eye on the weather. Whenever I see sunshine in the forecast I make sure I am outside to enjoy it. Last Wednesday was my third and last day in Koh Tao before moving on to my next island. Sunshine was predicted so I woke up and headed towards the beach. I will admit, I don’t often burn. And after the harsh New York winter we had, I have been waiting for a nice tan. I knew I only had a couple of hours before my ferry departed so I didn’t think I would need sunscreen. I could not have been more wrong!
As I waited for the ferry I began to feel very hot, nauseous and irritable. After arriving to the island I found my way to my guesthouse, which was supposed to be a bungalow on the beach. I quickly learned that I would not be staying in a bungalow on the beach, rather an 8 pod dorm all by myself. Oh yes, my first experience being ripped off by a Thai travel agency! The sunburn was getting worse and I was beginning to feel like my body was just radiating heat. Within hours I found myself vomiting and shivering at the same time. Sun poisoning had gotten the best of HG.
Being sick sucks. Being sick when you’re not home really sucks. Being sick on the other side of the world, alone in an 8×3 foot pod is thee absolute worst. Despite the overwhelming feeling of loneliness, I found comfort by chatting with friends and family (thank you all by the way!). Travel is amazing, but there are times like this when all you can think about doing is booking a flight home.
The following morning I woke up and felt like a new person. I kept myself hydrated, lathered up on the sunscreen and made my way out the door to begin exploring the island. Within a couple of minutes I was invited to have coffee with some people at a local cafe. One of them happened to be a tour guide and invited me on his boat tour. Of course I booked right away!
One of the guys asked in his oh-so-sexy french accent if I was traveling by myself. I sighed and replied, “Yes, I am traveling alone.” The conversation went silent and then Steve (the tour guide) exclaimed, “You’re never alone. Look around you right now. Pick your language! You are never alone.” This short, yet insightful, statement resonated with me for the rest of the day. How right was he? Here I was crying the night before because I felt so alone, yet within five minutes of walking around I had found three new friends. Animator Steve (as he goes by on Facebook), changed my perspective on this entire trip. I’ve found that loneliness is a state of mind. Knowing I have the most amazing and supportive family/friends at home AND so many strangers that will become friends and continue to cross my path is the best reminder that I will never be lonely. Since my little chat with Anitmator Steve I have met some incredible people from all corners of the world. I have also spent a good amount of time to myself – reading, writing and thinking about my future. I will repeat the ever so cliche statement, “Everything Happens for a Reason,” because it could not be more true. Although we may not always know what that reason is, I have faith that it is all a part of a bigger, better plan.
My week in the Thai islands was spent exploring beaches by motorbike, snorkeling in crystal clear blue water, chasing sunsets and making new friends. After a long debacle in the Bangkok Airport, I made my way to Bali, Indonesia on Monday. I’ve been here for two days and iI already have heaps of stories to tell! Happy Thursday all =)