During the pandemic, my Instagram feed kept bringing up the unique words of wisdom of Jamie Varon. Her refreshingly honest and compassionate take on life seemed to be perfectly in synch with the zeitgeist of our times: worn-out, frazzled, and hanging by a string, she was a lone voice in the wilderness which challenged grind culture.
After some detective work (well, basically messaging her on Instagram), I sat down for a chat with her to find out more about her journey, her philosophy and her upcoming book Radically Content.
Afdhel Aziz: Jamie you came out of nowhere to dominate my social media feeds with your incredible wisdom. Tell us about your journey to get to this point so far!
Jamie Varon: I’ve had many people say this to me lately and I always laugh, because I’ve been creating and writing and putting my work out there since as early as 2007. I think my words are resonating at just the right time, for both my own journey and for where the collective is at, after 2020.
I’ve always wanted to write, and I started blogging when I was in my early 20s. I had lots of different blogs over the years. I also started a web design and branding business in 2009, which I still own and operate to this day.
I’m a multi-passionate type of person. I’ve created an iOS app in the past. Before I started my business, I wanted to work at Twitter and created a website called twittershouldhireme.com and it went viral. I was featured in Forbes magazine and interviewed on CNN. I’ve had bylines in all sorts of online publications like HuffPo, Teen Vogue, GOOD, Greatest, Complex, and more. I’ve done branding for Bed Bath & Beyond and big names like Marie Forli and Amy Porterfield. When I was a full-time writer at Thought Catalog back in 2014, my words were read by over 10 million people in the span of one year.
Now, I have a book deal with Quarto, another one on the way, am working on a novel, and a couple other secret projects in the works. In April 2020, I created a digital course called Live with Intention, which helps people find their most honest life and trust themselves to build it.
I’m a person who really loves to jump into what I’m passionate about. I’ve been gripped by hustle culture in the past and it’s something I worked through in 2020, which was the genesis of this current evolution of my writing. I think that’s why it’s really resonating with people—a way outside of overworking, burnout, and hustle. That’s what my book, Radically Content, is about, along with my course, and even my novel. It’s a thru-line in my work.
Aziz: It seems like your content has struck a chord in this Covid moment as people start to question Business as usual and the grind culture. Do you think that the current context has made people more aware of your point of view and resonate with it?
Varon: Absolutely! I’ve been saying a lot of the same things for years and it just wasn’t hitting or resonating. People wanted “motivation” more than “inspiration”, I think for a long time. They wanted the “more more more” culture of grinding and crushing it. While I love to achieve, I think if you are constantly putting your life on hold until the next accomplishment, you wake up feeling regret for the time that has passed that you haven’t really enjoyed or been present for. I think I have a unique way of expressing that sentiment, while also giving solutions and allowing people to think about their life in a new way without shaming them. There’s a lot of shame on the internet. I will never shame people into changing or taking on my point of view. I believe people are intelligent and can think for themselves.
Aziz: I find it highly ironic that you use the medium of Instagram but often the content you post is challenging its entire premise?
Varon: Hahaha, yes. You know, I’m the kind of person where I want to get my message out and I’ll do it through any medium. I just like to create. Instagram is a good way to get people’s attention. I very often have people tell me that I’m the only account they read on Instagram or the only reason they log on. I can understand that impulse. There’s a lot to weed through. I like being the light of reason in people’s Instagram and Facebook feeds. That’s important to me. I want to be a breath of fresh air and an exhale for people, especially because I know how social media affects our mental health. If I can be a force for good on those platforms, all the better!
Aziz: I loved what you said “I’m not trying to get I’m not trying to tell people how to think, but just to think.”
Varon: This is my core philosophy. I don’t need people to think like me or adopt my way of thinking, as if I’m a guru. I like to lead people back to their own wisdom, by reminding them of their own inherent power. I am not here to disempower people by pretending to have all the answers. Everyone is unique and I like to respect that. That being said, I do want to encourage people to think critically and to listen to their own intuition. I think consuming too much online can make people lose their own connection to themselves. I’m always trying to lead people back there. It’s not about me. My life is my responsibility, and I don’t need to be held up as an aspirational person. I just want to help people (especially women) recognize their own wisdom.
Aziz: Finally as you ascend to Oprah-like guru-status, what advice you have for others who want to follow your path?
Varon: Think for yourself. Get deep with yourself. Heal from the inside out. What you’re searching for out there is actually within. The most important journey is learning how to trust yourself. Try trust before love. When you trust yourself, loving yourself becomes a lot simpler. You have to build and earn trust with yourself—and then it becomes standard. That is the path. Not *my* path. It’s the path back to yourself.