Musings + Essays

What Is the Antonym of Curiosity?

By: Jen Shoop

I finished Atomic Habits and my midway assessment held up through the end. That book would have born fruit for me in my 20s, when I was a reader that now feels like somebody that I used to know. Perhaps that insight alone — the observation that the book was better-calibrated to a vestigial version of myself — was worth the read, though: new markers on this squiggly path I call my life.

I do appreciate the Magpie who wrote in with a different (more positive) perspective on the text, and want to say — in case it’s not clear — that I embrace readings that run against the (a? our?) grain. There is a lovely children’s book on difference that Sesame Street published that we read frequently at bedtime, and the tl;dr is: “We’re different, we’re the same, and that’s what makes the world interesting.” Funny how often bedtime stories can suit my own needs and deficiencies. In this case, the Sesame Street book is a weekly reminder that the undulation between points of parity and departure with the people around me makes me think, reminds me of my own smallness, and keeps me curious.

Which brings us roundly to my new audiobook, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Oh, I can be an obstinate clodpoll, because how long have how many of you been insisting I would love this book? Reader, you were right. I have been floating in an ether of creative reflection since first laying ears on it. Gilbert’s prose reads crisply, but with humor and occasional elevations to the sublime. And the subject matter woos: here (at least in the first third of the book), she addresses the notion of living with creative confidence, and not in a manner confined to those of us who have committed our careers to the practice of art. I couldn’t be more drawn to the prompt and its underpinning theses. I have written elsewhere that I believe we are all creative, and that we can exercise artistry in the very way we dress ourselves, shape our communications, design our days. I came to this conclusion rather pointedly in September of 2020, when I observed: “Three months into my 36th year, out of left field, I have suddenly made peace with the fact that daily chores, school drop-off and pick-up, and exercise are no longer interruptions to my routine. They are instead a part of the architecture of my day.” Seeing the world this way — viewing it as a canvas rather than a cascade of happenings forged elsewhere — draws on creative will.

Interestingly, Gilbert seems to position curiosity and creativity as the antonyms of fear. Do I agree? Do you? It seems to me that fear is a polyamorous antonym. The opposite of fear might be courage, calm, apathy, foolhardiness, wonderment, impulsiveness — concepts that sprint across a wide gamut of tones and shapes. I suppose curiosity could live amongst them.

But, instinctively, I feel that the opposite of curiosity is not fear but torpor. An unwillingness to move. Whether this stagnation stems from fear or insouciance or laziness feels like a different provocation. Curiosity, though, seems to me a question of whether or not we tend to stand on nimble feet or lay supine in the face of what is possible.

I’m open-minded on this front, though, and I have the sense that this mental javelin-throwing has little to do with her central tenets, which seem more focused on encouraging us to unlock ourselves.

Onward — gleefully!


+On creative habits.

+On finding something like a vocation in language.

+On being bad at endings.

+What energy are you sending out on a daily basis?

+Every morning, a million miracles are born at dawn.

Shopping Break.

+Cute eyelet coverup. Note that the model here is 5’11 — this will be considerably longer on shorties like myself.

+Another instance of pure gold from Target. I’m so sad it’s sold out in the blue color in my size. I just added the white to my cart.

+Even more epic finds from Target.

+In my forever quest to find an eye cream that does anything besides moisturize (which nearly all of them do at every pricepoint, which is why I usually just stick with Olay, which is inexpensive but delivers IMO similar results to more expensive brands), I am currently eyeing this m61 formula. m61 is BlueMercury’s house brand and I’ve been really impressed with a few of their other products, especially these power peels. If I am in a hurry to get ready but feel like my skin needs a quick boost, you swipe one of these pads all over your face and VOILA. Insta-facial. Really, really great quick fix product.

+If you are a fellow Tonies fam, I just discovered these clever cases for stowing the “figures.”

+This beaded necklace is fun. Also love this wicker heart necklace from the same new-to-me brand.

+Such a pretty tiered dress.

+I have to say – I’ve been getting a ton of wear out of my Golden Goose sneakers lately. I loved them when I bought them back in maybe 2018 and then felt like they were everywhere and took a break for a year or two and now I can’t stop wearing them. Glad I hung onto them. I like this new set with the hot pink star.

+Love these Prada slides.

+Ordered this raincoat in the faded pistachio color. Love. I own this exact pair of rainboots in a matte pastel pink color that will be perfect to pair with. I would also love the look paired with my boots in the dock gray color. Such good matte colors! I should also note I LOVE these Hunters because I am short and the classic/tall Hunters always hit me at a weird/unflattering part of my leg (like, mid-knee). This also made them uncomfortable. These refined shorties are SO much more flattering and comfortable!

+This green gingham top is currently in my cart for micro.

+I took mini for her first manicure with two little girlfriends the day after she turned five. She *loved* it. I thought it would be a cute concept for a future birthday party and found these adorable invitations perfect for such an occasion.

+Another face mask on my radar. I am still finding myself leaning heavily on Summer Friday’s Jet Lag mask. I wear it overnight if I’m feeling dry but I also love to slather on just out of the shower before a night out. This comes (conveniently!) in a mini/trial size so you can test to see what you think before buying an entire tube.

+Fun pink jumpsuit for spring. Imagine with a sophisticated stack of bracelets and on-trend sandals or spring sneaks.

+Mamas living in tight quarters: Stokki just came out with a foldable version of their popular baby bath tub.

+I know I’ve mentioned these before, but these magnetic animals remain popular with virtually any child who visits our home. They encourage creativity and have a STEM bent because children quickly learn that one end attracts and the other end repels via magnetic force. My children love to “see what they attach to” around the house — the Ubbi pail is a popular place to clip them on. I just bought these for a one year old’s upcoming birthday!

+Love the natives in the new pastel yellow color. More cute children’s finds for spring here, here, here.

+Micro-trend alert: patchwork! Love this, this, this.

+I continue to think this dress is absolute perfection for a bride to be.

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6 thoughts on “What Is the Antonym of Curiosity?

  1. I’ve been using iS youth eye complex and it is life changing! Formally used Verso Super Retinol 8 eye serum until they changed the formula and added fragrance. iS is far superior!

    I’m also loving LaRoche Posey Retinol Vitamin B3 serum. Can’t recommend enough.

  2. Oh! “Curiosity” is a hard one. It’s a keyword in my org’s mission, and I can tell you we’ve been debating its truest meaning for years… I like your question, and I think along with torpor and stagnation there’s also the rigidity related to thinking you *already* *know* something – a presupposition that leads to closed-mindedness.

    Shopping notes: for eye creams, have you tried Ole Henriksen’s banana bright? It truly brightens the under eye and is great for mornings and beneath makeup. The Origins ginseng eye cream is similar — I recommend both. And an FYI that I finally sprang for the Madewell perfect vintage in Ainsworth! Wowee, a solid pair of denim!

    1. Hi Susie – I haven’t tried the OH but have liked his other stuff — might give that a whirl next! So glad you like the jeans! They truly are amazing. I can’t stop wearing them…my most-worn jeans this season, hands-down.

      More accurate antonyms for “curiosity” — you’re so right! Closed-mindedness is a good one.


  3. Based on your recommendation, I put on biossance vitamin C serum every morning followed by Clarins double serum for a great glow. Regarding your search for an eye cream – have you tried the new Clarins double serum for eyes? I’m curious to hear your review –

    1. Hi Amy! So glad you like that combo! It is a formula for bright, happy morning skin. I have not tried the eye serum but you’re intriguing me, too. I love everything else they do…


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