If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the other 401 learn-it-alls:
Wahoo what a benchmark. I told myself I would experiment with audio if I reached an audience of 400, so feel free to listen along:
Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋
Greetings from Walloon Lake, Michigan 🌺
Happy Labor Day!
This is the first time I have been up north with all five members of my family since I was in high school. My grandpa designed this place back in the 80s and it’s one of my favorite places in the world.
So many fond memories here. Where movie time is anytime the weather is too unbearable.Where I learned how to snow ski. Where I learned to waterski. Where I attempted to learn to snowboard. Where I got my first concussion while tubing. Where I taught my cousin to sail. Where I caught painted turtles. Where I first skinny dipped. Where I overindulged on booze and ended up with my face someplace my face was never made for. Where I fled to write a book and spend time with myself.
Just for kicks, here are the doggos. When I grow up, I want to spark smiles irresistibly as they do:
Winter is coming and fall has arrived. The acorns have been falling and I've found some beautiful color-changed oak leaves already. This is the first fall I've witnessed since 2020 in Chicago, where it usually lasted a couple of weeks before snowfall arrived. Ahh, I'm enjoying being able to drink some mint tea at any time of day and bundling up with fuzzy socks. I’m convinced I’ve got a circulation problem with my hands and feet.
I headed into town for lunch with my family yesterday and all the restaurants had “help wanted” signs. That reminds me, to everyone reading this, thank you for the work that you do. As citizens of the Internet, it's easy to feel like we are not doing enough as we are exposed to what everyone else is doing.
Know that you are appreciated. In the words of author Paul Graham “curiosity turns work into play” (full quote later on). May you take a moment to reflect on the labor around you.
Now, let’s dive into letter 123 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
❓ Question to think about
If my curiosity was a person, what would I say to them?
I'm in love with you. There I said it.
Thank you for making me feel comfortable sharing this with you. The ideas that you spark bring me so much joy. They itch at my skull, which is what pulls me to share this letter with you today. I have so much gratitude for you existing in my life.
Life would feel meaningless without you, even though most of what you flood my mind with I don't even understand the meaning of.
I've had these feelings for a while now.
When I was floundering at my first job after college in risk insurance, I leaned on you to be there for me. I looked at the actuaries in the cubicles around me talking about their exams and I didn’t feel you around me. And when you were present as I questioned the long-standing processes, I felt reprimanded. You sensed it too. That we both didn’t belong there.
After I said no, and decided to leave, you helped me find what my next opportunity in management consulting. In the meantime, we had our fun attempting to publish a book, working in restaurants, couch surfing in New York City driving across the country with my long-lost Dutch cousin.
When I was laid off from that role, you opened up a new identity for me. The entrepreneurial one who wanted to explore what my life could look like if I had ownership of my time, what I worked on, and who I teamed up with.
Instead of being a sad sack, or slacka-saurus, I had you to help me find what my path would look like next.
You are the vehicle for my love of ideas that drives life up the driveway each day. You keep life exciting, upbeat, and far from boring.
We are living in a modern era. Encyclopedias were cool back when I was in 6th grade. But in comparison to what we have access to today, it is seemingly limitless as a lightning-fast academic with Google at our fingertips. The Internet age tangoes so well with us. It is truly bonkers!
When I open a door into a bookstore, I sense anticipation to explore what others' curiosities have led them to. When I click on a song on Spotify, the goosebumps on my skin rise when I ponder what inspired the heartwarming lyrics. I hear about occupations like oyster farming at the edge of Louisiana and you get me intrigued about the different algae the babies eat to taste different or about how AR and VR are being integrated into learning design to become a self-taught plumber in the Netherlands. I feel alive, full of wonder when I get exposed to a new pass time like Zydeco dancing– a Louisiana wedding tradition.
I am ignorant, but you don't ever judge me for not knowing something.
You dress me in a cloak of bravery that dives into the unknown daily. Similar to when I have butterflies in my stomach before every single swim meet I raced in, they ease up and fly away after I take the cold plunge and dive in. Instead of seeing it as scary, it wakes me up to the point of my life.
You've helped me reach new heights that have completely changed the trajectory of where I am today. Out of pure curiosity, I have sent cold emails that have landed jobs, initiated life-changing friends, and created memories for the rest of my life.
You inspired me to take random courses that didn’t have a clear purpose other than the energy it created within me when I thought about being a student. There was no practical return on investment, or ROI, on many of these pursuits. Yet, they are the times that I've been bold and pursued what my spirit compelled me to do.
Because of you, it is what makes my life unique to me. These frivolous seeming actions make me appear like I have attention deficit disorder.
I'm getting more observational here. It's like humans are all born to be curious in order to learn how to communicate and make sense of our lives. They mimic our parents and learn. They mature from the child's shoes we first wore to walk in to go to school to become educated.
In tangent with these steps, the curiosity usually dampens. Like how the bright light of a firefly darkens when it is suffocated of oxygen in a mason jar– you fade away.
Adults grow out of their super curious states. This saddens me. I see your spark get doused by so many adults as they lose you. They lose that curious imagination and sense of endless possibilities.
You've driven me to do things that I don't quite understand why, but I do not discern these actions. I encourage them and place hope in them. I trust them and open myself up to you because you give me more of a sense of purpose and meaning in my life than anything else. I feel closer to myself when you are lit up within me. You enter like a snow flurry and feel frivolous, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Life apart from you is one I cannot imagine.
We are one and the same.
Back in 2016, I spontaneously bought a ticket for $10 to see Post Malone play at my favorite bar, Brick Street in Oxford, Ohio on a Monday night. The date was October 17th to be exact (yes, I did in fact google this). My favorite song from him at the time? White Iversion and I Fall Apart. I can sing every word to Candy Paint.
Post Malone does certainly have a different type of look. So many of his songs just make me smile. In particular, on my 23rd birthday, I reserved the second floor of one of my favorite bars in Old Town, Chicago “Woody’s”. I remember when this song came on I was near tears with so much bliss and couldn’t stop dancing and spinning. I love this song.
Seasons change and our love went cold
Feed the flame 'cause we can't let it go
Run away, but we're running in circles
Run away, run away
🌟 Quote to inspire
"Kids are curious, but the curiosity I mean has a different shape from kid curiosity. Kid curiosity is broad and shallow; they ask why at random about everything.
In most adults this curiosity dries up entirely. It has to: you can't get anything done if you're always asking why about everything. But in ambitious adults, instead of drying up, curiosity becomes narrow and deep. The mud flat morphs into a well.
Curiosity turns work into play. For Einstein, relativity wasn't a book full of hard stuff he had to learn for an exam. It was a mystery he was trying to solve. So it probably felt like less work to him to invent it than it would seem to someone now to learn it in a class."
–Paul Graham from What You’ll Wish You’d Known
📷 Photos of the Week
The final hoorah before the boats were taken out, cleaned and stored away for the winter. It’s always so much fun making it out on the water. I love my family and cherish these moments.
- To Paul Millerd for writing and gifting me the audio version to his Pathless Path book. I’ve been listening to it and it’s letting my curiosity run wild. “Write, Most Days” is an intention that resonates with me from his most recent and 195th newsletter.
- To Learn-it-all Aaron for challenging my thoughts on whether rejection or regrets are worth risking. It’s got me reflecting even more on last week’s letter.
I appreciate you reading this!
If ideas resonated, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you forgot who I am, I welcome you to my online home.
Never stop learning 😁
PS - in case you missed last week’s letter, I wrote a Letter to Rejection
If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed:
On my love for easier audion communication:
On the process I have been using to write these last couple of letters:
A way I’ve learned to track how I know someone from social media: