Skip to content

Letter #25 from a Learn-it-all

7 min

feeling 22, tying my shoes, leaving gas left, permit your creativity, write usefully, build endurance

Hello fellow learner,

Greetings from Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

My younger sister Steph is feeling 22! It's amazing to see how much this little Peanut has grown up, and I am grateful to have been able to celebrate her life.

For her birthday, I corralled the special people in her life to send in videos and put together this tribute video. It was so much fun to make!

We got Mexican food at a delicious restaurant called Bakersfield in Detroit. It was the first time I was downtown since spring 2019. One of the many service jobs I had that spring was as a server's assistant at the fine dining restaurant BESA.  The literal translation of the Albanian word means “a pledge of honor.” To give “BESA” is to give your word or make a pact. In this context, it meant the customers' exceptional dining experience was of utmost importance.

Now, let’s dive into letter 25 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

Some things I’ve learned through…

🖊 Writing

This week I reinforced my daily writing habit and shared five Ship Its. Each of the pieces is less than 400 words. I explained my rationale behind starting it here. My favorite post was about when I learned just-in-time how to tie my shoes in pre-school.

Enjoy these summaries from my other posts:

Gas left in the tank - Why should I slow down when I am up for the challenge? I can go harder so why wouldn't I? Why should I pull back with more left in me before the end? Because when there is still mental aptitude left, it keeps you wanting to come back for more. It is better to leave a run feeling like you're ready for more than to leave yourself burnt out.

Life is a pivot - We are always fluid. Nothing is ever set and stone. Our actions shift so our goals and affirmations should follow as well. We constantly need to be evaluating ourselves. That is one of the few things that school got right is always testing us.

Never stop learning - They made me feel slower than I thought I was. Surrounding myself with the faster swimmers would only force me to become more like them. They forced me to raise my internal standards of excellence.

Memories with music - I never was at this concert nor do I historically enjoy the Carpenter’s music. But, I now have a connection. A reason to listen. I can imagine the smile Omi wore as her ears happily enjoyed this instrumental soft music.

🏃 Running

My long run this past week was seven miles. Not only is this over halfway to running my half marathon (12.1 miles), but it is also the longest distance I have ever continually run in my 24 years of life. On top of that, I felt swell after completing it! I wanted to keep going, but my coach on my Nike Run Club app told me to stop.

This sounds counterintuitive to leave gas in my tank. The way Coach Bennett explained it is that your past and present runs inspire my future runs. If I leave feeling great at the end with more left to give than I will be more likely to show up for my next run.

During these seven miles, my coach guided me to run the middle distance as if it were the end and to run the end as if it were the middle. By shifting my perspective of where I was at in the run, it kept my mind occupied with constantly checking in with myself and how I was feeling on my pace. Runners don't show up only for the physical challenge, but also the mental toughness that it builds as they learn more about themselves along the way.

🎬 Watching

I watched the American actor, writer, musician, and director Ethan Hawke explain why to give ourselves permission to be creative. Most of the world wants to offer something of quality that is good and important. This pressure is not liberating and it is actually the enemy. It is not up to us to know what will be good especially because the world is an unreliable critic.

On why creativity is so important:

That's when art is not a luxury. It is actually sustenance. We need it. Well, what is it? Human creativity is nature manifest in us... It can have this feeling that it's just nice, or it's warm, or something pleasant. It's not. It's vital. It's the way that we heal each other... We come out of our corners and we start to witness each other's common humanity. We start to assert it and when we do that really good things happen.

Hawke found his love doing his first professional play at 12 years old. After finding what he loved he started thriving:

I believe we are here on this star in space to try to help one another. First, we have to survive and then we have to thrive. To thrive, to express ourselves, we have to know ourselves. What do you love? If you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you and it expands...There's no path until you walk it, and you have to be willing to play the fool.

On how to start playing the fool:

Don't read the book you should read. Read the book you want to read. Don't listen to the music that you used to like. Take some time to listen to new music. Take some time to talk to somebody that you don't normally talk to. I guarantee if you do that, you will feel foolish. That's the point. Play the fool.

On how youth have an upper hand expressing creativity without habits:

That's what makes kids so beautifully creative is they don't have any habits. They don't care if they're any good or not. They throw themselves at whatever project you put in front of them. Any opportunity they have, they try to use it to impress upon your their individuality. It's so beautiful.

📖 Reading

I read Paul Graham's essay on How to Write Usefully. He explains four main factors for useful writing: importance, novelty, correctness, and strength. He shares some tricks on how to use these different concepts.

On where to start your focus on and how to write on important topics:

The trick I suggest to young founders for getting startup ideas: to make something you yourself want. You can use yourself as a proxy for the reader. The reader is not completely unlike you, so if you write about topics that seem important to you, they'll probably seem important to a significant number of readers as well.

On seeking out novelty:

You need humility to measure novelty, because acknowledging the novelty of an idea means acknowledging your previous ignorance of it. Confidence and humility are often seen as opposites, but in this case, as in many others, confidence helps you to be humble. If you know you're an expert on some topic, you can freely admit when you learn something you didn't know, because you can be confident that most other people wouldn't know it either.

On simplicity of words:

Brevity is the diction of command. If you watch someone delivering unwelcome news from a position of inferiority, you'll notice they tend to use lots of words, to soften the blow. Whereas to be short with someone is more or less to be rude to them.

Graham’s initial writing experiences surprised me:

Writing essays doesn't have to mean publishing them. That may seem strange now that the trend is to publish every random thought, but it worked for me. I wrote what amounted to essays in notebooks for about 15 years. I never published any of them and never expected to. I wrote them as a way of figuring things out.

The exciting thing is not that there's a lot left to write, but that there's a lot left to discover. There's a certain kind of idea that's best discovered by writing essays. If most essays are still unwritten, most such ideas are still undiscovered.

🔎 Word to define

Endure: To continue in the same state without perishing; to last; to suffer patiently or without yielding; to bear up under adversity; to hold out; to remain.

Endurance: The act of bearing or suffering; a continuing under pain or distress without resistance, or without being overcome;  patience; fortitude.

As mentioned in letter 14, Ultra-athlete Rich Roll explained how he got into endurance below:

I got into endurance sports to learn more about myself, not to just become an endurance athlete. It wasn't about podiums and winning races... I wanted to more deeply connect with who I am, so I could be more authentic in my expression of myself. As a result of having that experience, I learned a lot about myself, and I'm committed to continually growing and evolving rather than just doing this one thing staying in my lane and pleasing a certain number of people.

🌟 Quote to inspire

"Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity." - Bruce Lee

💭 Question to ponder

What area in your life could you intentionally challenge yourself to create mental endurance?

I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet.

Never stop learning 😁

Until next week,


If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you or you clicked a link somewhere, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed below to receive future updates:


Subscribe to receive the latest posts in your inbox.