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Dear Cocoplum 2003

September 24, 2009

Group Blog Thursday

I’ve never participated in a group blog before. Never on any blog I’ve had. But, the topic for this weeks Group Blog Thursday over at Steph in the City intrigued me: Post a letter to the graduation-day version of yourself.

As I begin this post I am listening the Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free” and actually fighting back the nostalgia induced tears. I know, lame. Sorry.

The classic song was released, as the first line states, for the “ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99”. That year I was “graduating” from Junior High and entering the exciting and scary new world of High School. Some of my best friends were moving up to the new school with me, but others left for schools closer to their homes because of zoning restrictions. These people were like family, and we felt, for the first time in our young lives, like we were leaving the past behind and moving on to an unknown future.

Of course, this was just a small sampling of the many bigger moments in our lives when we would move on, experience loss, excitement and possibility. It was a hint of what would come when we finished High School, when this song was once again, and with perhaps a stronger impact, played ad nauseam while we wiped away the melodramatic, but no less real, salty tears and tried to hold on to our youth, even as we felt it slipping away.

Oh, but how naive we were.

It is that naiveté which I miss the most. The feeling that we were now grown-ups, at 17 and 18 years old, seems so sweet it’s heartbreaking.

So this is the letter to myself, if I could write one, upon graduating high school, a lifetime and a mere 6 years ago.

Dear Cocoplum 2003

Six years from now you will still be listening to Baz Luhrmann’s advice. It will only become more relevant, and will choke you up every time. But, in 2009, it will be over nostalgia for the girl who is listening to it while she packs for university with a heart that feels like it might explode.

Your first love is true love… in as much as a first love can be. It will not last, and if you are honest with yourself, you don’t really want it to. Try to cherish these moments, but don’t sacrifice your individuality or confidence for them; there is so much more you will experience!

Be honest with yourself. Listen to your friends. They will still be there years from now. I promise. High School is NOT the best time of your life, nor is it the worst. Remember only the good parts.

It’s true that friends come and go. You will get stronger at accepting this fact, but you will also learn that true friends are the ones who can pick up right where you left off without feeling like a day has gone by. Hold on to them because one day you will be living far from them, and they will still be the ones who are always there for you.

Learn to deal with your stress. It will come back to bite you in the ass, and by then it will be far more overwhelming than a simple high school paper. Put things into perspective. Your perfectionism is often a curse… please try to be patient.

Learn to laugh at your mistakes. You’ll get plenty of practice.

Freshman 15 isn’t a joke. Actually, it’s more like freshman 20. Learn to eat healthy now so that you can save yourself the headache of losing those pounds 4 years from now.

When you discover that men are actually very attracted to you, don’t forget that they DO like what’s inside of you too, not just the outside. And the ones that don’t aren’t worth the effort.

Follow your passions, and don’t hold back because of fear or insecurities. You’re learning this already, but you won’t believe how much the world opens up when you define your place in it. What other people think of you isn’t the most important thing.

Those girls who giggle over wine, travel, dish on the latest fashion, and reminisce over their peak summers of love and seduction? Don’t be jealous of them, one day you will be one, remembering the days when you were 17, naive and a bit insecure. Don’t wish away those years, but don’t be too scared of what’s to come – it’s (mostly) so much better!

Take chances. Get a tattoo.

Don’t feel like you have to know what you want to do when you grow up. You won’t know even when you are married, and you’ll change your mind 100 times. Maybe you’ll never know. It turns out that most adults in your life are less together than they would have you believe.

Tequila is not your friend. Don’t sit down while drinking it. In fact, skip that night altogether. You can do bodyshots another time.

Remember to drink water. Lots of water. Especially when you are drinking.

Your father isn’t always right, as you know. But, cut him some slack. He’s a pretty cool guy, and he loves you. He’s trying, even when it’s hard to see it. Your sister will go through much worse than she has been, and you will experience more pain and worry, but she will get through it, and so will you. Eventually, she will open up to you. Don’t give up on her.

You will always feel the loss of your mum. Not having her at your graduation is as hard as not having her at your wedding, but it does get easier. Remember her everyday. The advice she gave you will help you into adulthood.

Oh, and Baz is right, wear sunscreen. One day you will be telling people this as part of your job as a beauty advisor (yes, you will work one year for one of the cosmetic companies that you are afraid to approach the counter of for fear you are ugly. You are not ugly.)

You’ll be OK.


Cocoplum 2009

Baz Lurhmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

*Baz did not write this, I know. But he put it to music, and this is how I know it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2009 11:58 am

    Very good letter!

    And I love that song, too!

  2. September 24, 2009 1:54 pm

    Here’s the history of the “Wear Sunscreen” thing:

    On or about Thursday, July 31, 1997, an email message began making the rounds featuring the text of a commencement speech purportedly given by Kurt Vonnegut at MIT. It was clever, poignant, and full of the kind of arch-cynical humor Vonnegut is famous for. Unfortunately, Vonnegut never delivered any such address. Nor did he write the words attributed to him. They were written by Mary Schmich.

    Schmich’s “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” was published in the Chicago Tribune as a column on June 1, 1997. In her introduction to the column, she described it as the commencement address she would give if she were asked to give one. It then became an Internet phenomenon, erroneously attributed.

    Baz Luhrmann actually received the e-mail while he was working on his album. At the time it was attributed to Vonnegut and he knew he’d never get permission to use it…but in research, he discovered the real author. He got permission and used it on his 1998 album Something for Everybody.

    • onecocoplum permalink*
      September 24, 2009 2:37 pm

      Thanks Stephanie! I had heard that it wasn’t Baz’s words, but I didn’t know the whole story. I recently sat through my brother-in-law’s high school graduation and as I listened to the commencement address I was looking at the grads. Many were excitedly whispering, shuffling in their seats, bored, or staring with blank expressions.
      The advice was nowhere near as elegant (or eloquent) as Schmich’s, but it was still advice that I wished they could understand the importance and truth of. I suspect that in 20 years I’ll look back at my own advice and wish I could give the person who wrote that letter a little more advice.
      Thank you again for this. It was one of the best blog ideas I’ve ever read.

  3. September 24, 2009 3:31 pm

    You did a great job, by the way! I don’t know what I’d say if I had to deliver a commencement address…but I love the advice in the “Wear Sunscreen” speech. It is simple and to the point. The author is right, though…youth is definitely wasted on the young!

  4. September 24, 2009 8:45 pm

    Love the Baz. Tequila is of the devil.

    Compliments on your post from an old lady. (Class of 89).

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