Selective Curiosity

When I was in college, I asked one of my professors to write me a letter of recommendation for a scholarship. Since she had earlier requested permission to use one of my assignments in a book she was writing, I figured it was a safe bet. She immediately said yes, and a week later I was handed the letter.

The letter said that I had selective curiosity. If I wasn’t interested in something, that was reflected in my work. Holy cow! Why didn’t she warn me that it wouldn’t be completely positive?

I remember calling my friend, the one who would later sit by my side during my Jewish conversion interview, all upset. After letting me get it all out, he paused, then he said, “You realize, Tam, that it is sort of true.”

I was shocked, shocked I tell you!


close up photography of person s eye
Photo by Tookapic on

Then I stopped and thought about it. It was true. Fortunately for my academic sake, most of the time there is enough flexibility in assignments that I could find some aspect that interested me. Also, even my lack of enthusiasm writing was still thorough and coherent, something professors found refreshing. My grades reflected that.

In looking back on it more than 20 years later, I do still have selective curiosity. Don’t we all? That is what lets us focus on things that are important to us. I must have been was more transparent than I thought I was at the time for her to call me out on it.

In a fun twist of fate, that friend who broke the truth to me later famously told one of my Day After Thanksgiving Party guests, “I’m bored” and walked out on the conversation. That is selective curiosity at its finest!

Has anyone else ever received a less-than-positive recommendation letter? Or Have you ever noticed that your curiosity is selective?