Years ago, right when Brian and I got married, Brian lost his job. Not only was it the worst timing ever, he sank into a deep depression for a while that threw him into a tailspin that surrounded with the one question that plagues us all from time to time: “who am I?”
It was a rough time for the two of us, especially since we had just started our married life together and despite what they say about nothing changing but your last name… things DO change. We ended up going through it again two years ago when I lost my job at Channel 4 and I realized I was at the pit of my darkest depression spell yet. It was a rough time for us again, as I had to rediscover who I was without the constant frantic chaos that comes with being in television news as well as going through the steps with the help of doctors and medication to pull myself out of the darkness.
Now I’m watching family members and friends go through the same thing. Only this time, I’m able to look at it in a different way. Since I am not directly involved, I’m able to see and really notice how lost these people are in their lives and what steps they are choosing to take in order to try and rediscover themselves, offer advice if asked and help them along the way.
Which begs the questions: when did we decide that our job or a relationship is what we need to define who we are? And why do we make that the sole thing? When did we decide to let an outside thing be the thing that defines who we are? And why is that allowed?
Brian and I were talking about this earlier, and he told me that he sank into a deep depression after he lost his job at Channel 4. It’s not something I didn’t already know, but it was weird in a way listening to him admit it out loud. He said he was lost and uncertain as to who he was once he lost the career he had been in for so long. I guess I could relate given how I was when I finally lost my job at Channel 4 as well, although my deep depression started before I actually left. I didn’t notice it at the time, but looking back I could see how it started almost a year and a half before I was let go and it took a long time to fully come out of it.
I thought about how I defined myself at the time. A glorified social media butterfly. I am a dreamer, a runner, a newsie, a writer, a foodie, and an adventurer. I’m scared of bugs, of major change, of migraines, and of letting people down. I love hookahs, going out to eat, reading, writing, dancing, wearing funky clothes to run in, music and all things related to music, and getting into a heated debate. I’m not a fan of peppers, onions, or chocolate… but I’ll eat it from time to time.
But that self-assessment wasn’t entirely accurate and it wasn’t until I was talking to another former newsie that I realized just how much the job had taken over our lives. It’s kind of hard to explain, and if you have never worked in television you will never fully understand just how much weight you carry on your shoulders as a newsie. But when you step outside of that world and into a new career outside of that it’s different. Suddenly things that weren’t important before because of deadlines and mandatory work days ARE important. Lunch breaks are mandatory, getting off work at 5pm, not being required to work from home after hours and not getting paid for it… it’s minor to many, but to us it’s everything.
Another way to look at it is with a relationship. So many people I know are so caught up with the idea of having to be in a relationship with another person because that’s what society tells them they have to do. But what about you? Who are you without that other person? Can you be satisfied without that other person? One of the things Brian and I pride ourselves on in our marriage is the ability to be Brian and Jamie separately as well as Brian&Jamie. We have our own hobbies and our own friends, our own enjoyments and our own things we enjoy to do on our own. But we are still that married couple who loves each other deeply and we can be inseparable as well. To me, that’s the kind of marriage that works. But you have to be able to function as YOU before you find that.
Maybe this is just a bunch of random babble from someone who has too much time on her hands to think now, but taking the time to define who you are is an important part of living. You have to be able to identify yourself in some way in today’s society, and why not be who you are because that’s who you are? Don’t be something you think you need to be, or use a relationship or a job or whatever else there is out there to identify you because you think that’s what needs to be done.
I define myself as an angry hippie with a style that is a cross between gypsy and rocker girl. I’m a conundrum with her own soundtrack, braids and a flower in her hair that’s radically dyed, a sarcastic curse in her mouth that is chewing bubble gum and singing loudly to the music as she picks out her next tattoo or piercing. I’m an exasperated sigh as I try to get my fat ass back into shape after fighting tirelessly through countless doctors appointments to get my health back to where it should be after not taking care of myself during “the darkness” and trying desperately to not judge myself too harshly for allowing all this to happen. I’m a shrug of indifference at where to go for dinner with friends, dressed in torn up shorts and a t-shirt with a sarcastic retort while bobbing my head to the music playing loudly, eyes hidden behind cheap gas station sunglasses watching as fingers scroll through Facebook or Instagram on the latest iPhone 7 just purchased a few months ago.
I’m crazy Jamie. How do you define YOU?