for life

A research project by Max Holford

Illustration of people's faces

Feeling reflective? Well answer me this...

"What advice would you give your younger self?"

Answer the question

There’s something so wholesome and conclusive to the answers of this question. The feeling that everyone is harbouring their own little diamond of advice yet as a society we seem to restrict the reveal of such rarity to the stages of university graduation ceremonies.

I’ve long been obsessed with the silver bullets of advice that come shooting out of the 1999 song “Sunscreen” by Baz Luhrmann and use it as currency when negotiating the general woes of my own life. It is a long-serving myth that the advice in the song was a real graduation speech. However, it was in fact a fictional one, penned by a columnist for the Chicago Tribune named Mary Schmich.

She starts by saying...

”Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.”

So in the same vein as Mary, I’m hoping to encourage, collect and curate the advice of anyone who is willing to supply it.

Thus, I invite you to gear up for reflection and recount your pearls of wisdom.

It’s a simple 1-question online form with the option to receive a single follow-up email. You can be completely anonymous if you choose to be and no entries will be shared without that person’s permission. Please feel free to be minimal, to be expressive, to write stories or even one line sentences and please also feel free to post as many entries as you like.

What will I do with it?

I have no idea! All I know is that I’d like to organise the content and produce something useful or interesting for younger people. What that looks like I don’t know yet but jump on board and we’ll see what happens.

So yeah... picture yourself walking through a park and up to your 17-year old self sat on a bench. You sit down beside them. Knowing what you know now, what do you tell them?

Give your advice

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing but foresight is better, especially when it comes to saving life, or some pain!”

William Blake

“I stopped at Wetherby Services and made some notes of what I would’ve said to my 18 year old self sat there just as you are now...”

Bob Mortimer's honorary degree speech