Jamie Klingler is an author, founder of Creative Influence Alliance and The Salon Host’s resident source of personal wellness inspiration who spent all of quarantine quitting booze and getting in shape. Whether you’re looking for a little inspo or a total reality check, Jamie has you covered.
The big rebrand – how do you publicly define yourself?
I’ll go first: I’m an expat from Philly living in London. I’m bolshy. I’m a crazy dog lady. I’m a voracious reader. I’m a party girl. I can drink you under the table. I can hang with the guys. I’m larger than life.
But what are those same messages when mixed with my own brand of personal disdain at two am when I can’t sleep? I’m larger than life, because as a fat girl I am expected to be. I’m going to be seen, so I might as well be remembered. I don’t really remember why I started being the drunkest in the room; but habit made me stay there. I can eat wings with the guys to pretend that I am perfectly fine about my size. My friends are all worried about me. I fucked up again last night. They are embarrassed to be around me. I’m useless. I’m not a real adult.
What are the stories that you truly believe about yourself? The ones you freak out about, the ones that evil bastard on your shoulder whispers in your ear? The dark real imposter syndrome – not just about your career but in every dark recess of your brain.
Mine were that I would always be fat, that I was not a real adult because I didn’t get married or have kids or own a house, that my career was a joke because it was based around National Burger Day and food festivals. I’ve been a large or extra large since my freshman year of college. I fully believed that I had a round face. I was big boned and no amount of dieting or exercise would ever change that, although I was reaching the upper limits of what I could stand to see in the mirror. I’d always been pretty and an extrovert and had big breasts; so I accentuated my breasts to hide everything else. I dressed loud and big. I drank loud and big I embodied loud and big. I was afraid that because I didn’t have kids and a house, I was a failure, that all of my success wasn’t real because it wasn’t measured in the same way as everyone else’s.
But what if you were given the opportunity for lightning to strike? What if you could press reset and retell the story? If you could recreate your reputation, rebuild your life, what parts would you keep? What parts did you value? Which parts would you actually accentuate?
In one year, I quit drinking. Six months later, I decided to start my first ever real diet. In six months, I have lost 70 pounds. I lost 25 years worth of emotional and physical baggage and created a new life, I’ve found my purpose and in a ridiculously short amount of time – I have become the new me. The new me is honest. The new me has a night-time voice that talks to their public voice and mostly speaks the same language.
I am still an expat from Philly. I still love my dog more than anything. I am still usually the loudest person in the room. But I am happy. I have become an activist. I have become a jogger. I have become someone who exercises every single day. I still read hundreds of books but I remember them all now. I actually listen when people talk. I have become a better friend, a better person and I’ve become honest.
For many of us, the time we’ve spent inside over the past year and a half has fundamentally changed the way in which we public define ourselves, but what about how we privately define ourselves? As lives were turned upside down by the virus and lockdown, our public definition of self went fully digital and our private definition of self became a grounding force in devastatingly chaotic times. We had to sit with ourselves and our feelings in a radical new way and hopefully take advantage of the opportunity to get to know ourselves a little better. There exists an opportunity to redefine yourself right now, and I’m encouraging everyone who wants that to take it.
For me quitting drinking unlocked the rest of the opportunity to redefine myself. Once that obstacle was removed, I stopped getting in my own way. I stopped sabotaging myself, I stopped making excuses. I started to own my version of being an adult. I started to own my own happiness. I started to own being by myself, being in my own head- and with it the fears, the grief, the insecurity, and the wins. The achievements. The excitement. And whatever else will get thrown at me. But rather than being in a ditch looking for people that would close the bar with me; I’m encouraging friends and strangers to find their reset, to take the plunge and just try it. Even if it doesn’t work, a year is worth the investment in yourself. It only took one year to burn my old identity to the ground and start again.