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This week, Zara (Year 11) offered up some sage words of wisdom to Senior School: never compare yourself to anyone else. Oh and wear sunscreen!
“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.” These are the opening words to Baz Lurmann’s Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen) song that has been our family’s mantra since before I was even born. My parents have constantly played this song to my sister and me in the hope that some of the wisdom would be imparted on to us.
Baz’s sage advice has shaped the foundations and frameworks of my life. A little disclaimer, some of the inspiration for this speech will be verbatim. I’m just not disclosing which bits!
I believe that self-belief and perception are the two factors that give us the ability or the inability to embrace who we really are. Quite often we believe our flaws define us, but rather it is our flaws that differentiate us from the person sitting next to us. We try to groom our perceived imperfections out of ourselves in the hopes of reaching perfection. But who is to say what perfection really is? We should learn to accept who we are, whether we are perfect, perfectly imperfect or not perfect at all.
My younger sister and I have been brought up with the concept of ‘owning it!’ Own who you are, what you do and who you want to be. Own your imperfections and accept that it is ok not to be perfect. Own it when you make mistakes. Own it when you do or say the wrong thing. Own it when you ace that exam because you worked hard, or own it when you failed that exam because you didn’t work hard at all. Try and remember that failure is not a tattoo but rather a bruise, it is only temporary. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we fail but rather take it as a learning curve and grow from it. Much easier said than done. That being said, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either. The rest of the world will do that for you. Beauty is only skin deep, and what someone looks like on the outside is not a good judge of what their character is like. Remember, real beauty comes from inside but until you believe in yourself, your true beauty won’t be able to shine through. Learn that happiness comes from within and never expect anyone to make you happy. That is your job. Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Never compare yourself to others. It is a waste of time and energy. You are unique and have your own gifts to offer the world. The truth is, there will always be someone who is more talented, intelligent, athletic, taller, faster, or stronger than you are. But that shouldn’t matter. You are bold, beautiful but most of all - you are you, and you have potential. Learn that life isn’t a competition. It’s a journey. Don’t waste your time on jealousy, sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you are behind, the race is long, and in the end, it is only with yourself. You are here to work on being the best version of you that you can be and the only competition should be with yourself.
As some of us approach the end of our school journey, don’t worry about the future, or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. Everyone in this room is beautiful, strong and talented in many different ways and I aspire for the day when every girl in this room can accept themselves for who they are, not what others want them to be. In twenty years’ time you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way that you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. So, be kind and learn to love yourself. As when you finally own who you are and can believe in yourself that is when the real magic begins. In life be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. As I have now dispensed my advice to you, it’s your decision to choose what to do with it. But please, if there is only one thing that you take from my speech today, wear sunscreen!
Zara (Year 11)