This song was given to me by an old friend when we were very young. I say given because it really is a gift. I don’t remember whether she literally handed me a CD or not, but she certainly gifted it to me, that much is sure.
We lost touch some years back, and recently, the universe conspired to have us back in contact. Several weeks after this happened BBC Radio 1 played this song. That is significant. I hadn’t heard this song in many years. And BBC Radio One play chart music, not often do they play hits from the 90s. I like to think that the universe had a hand in this too.
The sun was shining; I opened my car windows and blasted this out all the way down the road. My eyes filled with tears of mixed emotions.
I’d forgotten so much of this advice. And I had stopped living my life by these verses.
That was a mistake.
Though listening to it now, with a few more years under my belt, I appreciate some of the lines in a different, more complete way.
“You are not as fat as you imagine”
– If only 16yo me understood that at the time.
“Don’t be reckless with other peoples’ hearts”
– really, don’t.
“Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours [heart],”
– even more so – don’t waste a single minute on those people. Any of them: friends, family, lovers, some twat in the street who feels the need to burden you with their opinion on your appearance. None of them. Nada. Zilch. Do not put up with that shit.
“The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself”
– this I have largely always understood. You can be the best at something, but if you don’t keep on improving on that, on yourself, you aren’t competing. More recently, I understand this from the point of view that happiness comes from within.
Your happiness depends entirely on yourself, and that race to success and the ultimate goal, happiness, is with yourself. We all hope to get there, and your success and happiness should not exclude others from achieving their own success and happiness.
We can all win. And we should all be cheering for each other. I am so grateful for all the winners in my life, and coincidentally, they’re also the ones who cheer for me!
– there aint much a bit of yoga can’t fix imo.
“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what 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”
– THIS!!!!!! I cannot tell you how arrogant I was when I first heard this line – ‘well I am not most people, I know what I am doing with my life, the world is my lobster’. Well, let me tell you 14yo me, you ARE most people, you bloody idiot. And you’re 28 now and you are only just starting to have a clue what you should be doing with your life, and that clue isn’t even fully formed yet. So pipe down with your ‘I’m interesting at 14’ BS!
“Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much. Or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s”
– Absolutely! Please see above re cheering for each other and everybody winning!
“Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own,”
– this is probably the one that has changed the most for me over time. I hated my body as a teenager, and right up until recently to be honest.
It is only recently, with weight loss, respecting my body, and discovering yoga, that I really appreciate what it does for me and how important it is to my journey. I mean, literally I couldn’t do anything without it. I love walking in the Surrey hills too, and it is so important to me that I don’t take my body or my mobility for granted, and that I show gratitude for it every day. Without such an incredible instrument I would not be able to achieve and enjoy a lot of the things that I currently do.
So take heed! Enjoy your body!
– this I definitely always do. Whenever I can. Even at my desk. Even when no one else can hear the music. ESPECIALLY when no one else can hear the music.
“For as the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young”
– now for me this is starting to become clear. Not least of all because I forget my own life and need others who were there at the time to remind me of the things I’ve done and achieved [and also the embarrassing things I would clearly rather forget]. But also because they know you in a way that new people in your life cannot. There is a depth to their understanding of you. Because they knew you when you didn’t know yourself – when they didn’t know themselves – and when you were both still trying to figure that out.
Why is that so important now? Because there are still plenty of occasions when we still don’t know ourselves, certain situations or decisions we are faced with and we look around hoping for a familiar face to echo the answer back to us. Those people, the people you knew when you were young, they’re the only people who can do that for you. They’re the people that I’ve run to recently when shit hit the fan.
My friend who gifted me this song, she is one of those people I knew when I was young[er]. And without really realising it, she is reminding me of who I am – the writer, the philosopher, the poet [kind of!], the optimist [though I didn’t need reminding of that, thankfully]. She’s showing me how bits of your past are still very significant today, even the bits you thought you’d forgotten and didn’t need anymore. I am grateful for that. It’s helping me continue down the right road. Thank you =)
There are, of course, very few special exceptions to this rule. Those people who just happen to connect with your soul. Who, somehow, inexplicably ‘get’ you. Those people who you don’t even need to use full sentences to communicate with; who use non-words to describe their emotions, and who somehow encapsulate a tiny part of you within them. Those people are very rare. You should hold on to them too. Tightly. [Yes J, that’s you xx]
There are also those people who come into your life at very specific times, with very specific purpose. You know, those people you meet who start speaking to you and you wonder if they’ve been stalking your facebook posts or your instagram – because without even knowing it they’re talking right to your heart. They’re telling you their story and about parts of them and those parts are connected to parts of you in the most bizarrely timed way. Those people are rare too. You should hold on to them as well. [ <3 S]
– I have failed hopelessly at this. And surprisingly to be honest. But, encouragingly, I saw a meme the other day [disclaimer: my entire newsfeed and insta is memes and yoga] that stated you should travel like you’re 30. Which is helpful for me as that is what I plan to spend my 30s doing.
And finally, most importantly:
“Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth… But trust me on the sunscreen”
If you haven’t heard the song you can listen to it here:
And you can read the full lyrics here:
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 1999, wear sunscreen
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 never understand the power
And the beauty of your youth until they’ve faded
But trust me, in twenty years
You will 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 that know that worrying
Is as affective 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 blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing every day that scares you,
Don’t be reckless with other peoples’ 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 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 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 what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own,
Even if you have nowhere to do it but your own 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 are 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 for the precious few, who should hold on
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as the older you get, the more you need the people
You knew 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
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’ll never know when either one will run out
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty
It will look eighty-five
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
Wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
Painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the sunscreen