Hello fellow learn-it-all,
Greetings from the Caribbean 🌞
I'm soaking up so much-needed rays this week in St. Thomas with my family. I had a fun excursion yesterday where we took a ferry to St. John, hiked to some kayaks, paddled to a beach then snorkeled and saw some beautiful fishies, sea turtle and sting rays.
Man oh man, it was fun to dive into that ocean. It's been two years since I've been swimming in water that wasn't chlorinated or a freshwater lake. Usually, I am a paparazzi of the fish with my Go Pro but sadly not this time around. In the meantime, here is a beautiful picture. Sending you all some Vitamin D and salty breeze.
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 learn-it-alls:
Now, what's in store for this issue?
- The launch of my favorite online course
- Why being a noob isn’t so bad
- A video I created from being in Fiji 5 years ago
- My review of the month of February of what I loved, lacked and learned
- Three snorkeling thoughts I’ve been pondering
- A quality of great sailors
- A quote from one of my favorite authors on writing
- A question to get you thinking about messages in a bottle
- A family picture on top of a cliff with a beautiful view we’re blocking
- Some shoutouts
Now, let’s dive into letter 49 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
Some things I’ve learned through…
✍️ Write of Passage
Write of Passage cohort 6 officially started this past week. As always the launch was a huge liftoff. This will be my fourth time taking a course. I cannot say that I have ever in my life taken a course this many times. I’m honored to be a mentor this time around.
This time around it got me reflecting back in October 2019 why I signed up in the first place?
It was mainly three reasons:
- I needed more courage to get out from the closet of my writing and share it online
- I wanted to go from being a passive consumer to being in the arena and turn my consumption into creation
- I wanted to make friends. This was so I could find an online place where my behaviors of writing were the norm. I didn’t have an environment of peers from my past life that would help me to become the writer I wanted to be.
My first writing session for my role as a mentor is later today, and I have major heaps of imposter syndrome coming in hot. I have never been the main facilitator for writing. For Pete’s sake, I started writing publicly only a little over a year again in January 2020 and now I am teaching it?!? Nevertheless, I am excited to share my learnings with you all after.
As I go into being a writing mentor for Write of Passage, I re-read this quick piece by the co-founder of Y Combinator, Paul Graham called Being a Noob. It originally resonated with me because noob was my older brother's favorite word in high school and what he always called me. I thought it was a bad thing to be but Graham argues that the more you feel like a noob, the better.
He explains how there are two different sources of why we feel like a noob:
1. Being stupid
2. Doing something novel
He believes that the feeling of being a noob is inversely correlated with actual ignorance. Being a noob means that we are rushing to be competent and seek answers to problems at the cost of discovering another one. Our brains are wired as hunter-gatherers, but now we should challenge to be more of a noob locally to be less of a noob at a larger global scale. Ignorance is not the answer.
Perhaps, this eternal feeling of being a noob isn't so bad after all. 🤷♀️
Going snorkeling recently hit me with a pang of nostalgia for when I studied abroad in Fiji 5 years ago. It was the longest time I ever was by saltwater for two whole weeks. The incentive I went for was to receive three college credits for social justice but the village life that I learned all about living in Kadavu was what I actually remembered.
The Fijians were the happiest people I knew living in villages. They made me question my definitions of:
- What is "enough" in life
- What qualities actually define a community?
- What is happiness? Can it actually be more tangible than we make it out to be?
I captured some great memories from my trip in this 10-minute video:
There are so many subtleties I remember from this trip. To shower with 20 seconds of goosebumps-inducing water with my eggplant fried growing next to me every other day. I finally learned how to sea kayak and use my whole upper body. I got to scuba dive for the first time and my claustrophobia wasn't a barrier at all. I got to climb a waterfall, roll my ankle, and go on a 2-hour boat ride to the mainland to see The doctor. I realized how much I took US health care for granted. I realized how out of shape my volleyball skills were.
Over the weekend, I did a review of the past month that flew by. It was extremely helpful to stop and pause. It's super simple and I highly recommend giving it a shot to recognize patterns in the actions that you take.
To follow the format of every 4th letter (like letters 45, 41, 37, 32, 28, 23, and 19). Some highlights include:
What I loved:
- Having some quality conversations with my family members
- Getting on an airplane for the first time in a year
- Having a Think weekend to read and write
- Sending my weekly snail mail cards to friends
- Swimming in the salty ocean
What I lacked:
- Consistent exercise because I made too many excuses of it being too cold outside in snowy Chicago
- My daily morning walks fell off mid-month
- Removing guilt from myself for not accomplishing enough on all my projects of writing, course managing, and producing a podcast
What I learned:
- I have a fear of losing ideas. With hand-journaling each day my morning pages, I've realized that I can be more selective of which ideas I type out to serve as a level of progressive summarization. This creative constraint can work in my favor
- I can rely on myself and don't need an accountability Zoom meeting to start my day with writing
- Writing three pages every morning about what's on my mind is a lot harder than I thought
- Discovered that my "One Word" thanks to Rich Keller is Curiosity
My original habit for February: at least 1 hour of writing or reading for myself each weekday through attending Momo (Morning motivation) accountability group. I need support with the discipline to make time for myself, otherwise, I think myself into needing more time to sleep. Maybe I do, maybe I don't. This group will be an experiment for the month.
- This ended up turning into morning pages. I didn't like having the morning group as much as I thought I would. I knew after I signed the contract that I would be able to hold it to myself. Personal integrity is something I hold dear.
My habit for March: Swimming every day. I will be living near a pool for the next month, so you best believe I’m going to take advantage of it.
- How cool would it be to actually find someone's message in a bottle on the beach?
- In her book Big Magic, Liz Gilbert explains how writers can be like a rare orchid who is in isolation and then creates something magical and then gets isolated again. This is kind of like the century plant I saw in St. John yesterday. They bloom once every 25 years. What if we are all late bloomers? What if it is society that makes us feel "late" for creating our own timeline for life?
Photo by Dan Clark
- Living the island life seems implicitly selfish abandoning much of the world, but if that means you can focus on what is important to you, maybe it's worth an experiment?
🔎 Word to define
Circumnavigate: sail or travel all the way around (something, especially the world). Go around or avoid (an obstacle), to avoid dealing with (something difficult or unpleasant; problem or issue)
When I circumnavigate, am I procrastinating?
🌟 Quote to inspire
"Writing may be the skill with the highest return of all." -Seth Godin
❓ Question to think about
If you were to write a message in a bottle with the most hard-earned wisdom you have learned during your life so far, what would you write in it?
📷 Photo of the Week
I'm featured on the left here, next to my caring, Polish mother, my tall Dutch dad, my spunky younger sister Steph, and my driven sporty older brother Mitch. We call our group chat "Clan Vermet" and that we are. I'm very grateful to have this time away from reality to be with them. As Gary Chapman invented the five love language test, one of my top ways to feel loved is quality time with others.
To one of my favorite curators of the Internet, Polina Marinova, who's been writing The Profile weekly for the past 4 years. Everyone has a story, and she shares lessons from the world's most successful. I highly recommend subscribing to read
To my fellow Write of Passage Mentors who have been constant support going into this course
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,
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