Jamie Ivey is an author, speaker and podcaster living in Austin, Texas. Her new book is You Be You, which talks about satisfaction, identity and how we define success. We sat down with her to talk about the heart behind the project.
What made you think, “This is the idea. This is the book”?
It was about two years ago, after I released my first book. I started to hear from a lot of women who were dissatisfied with their life. They weren’t dissatisfied with their life because they necessarily didn’t like their life. They just wanted her life. They wanted to be like her. They wanted to have her job. They wanted to have her followers. They wanted to have her voice. I’ve felt this way, too.
I think we’ve all walked through this, but I started to really think, “What would it look like if we just owned up to who God made us to be?” What if we could call up women and men to believe that God made them not only with a purpose, but He made them how they’re supposed to be.
What are the perks to just being you, instead of trying to “be her”, like you said?
You could be like somebody else and have a lot of success, but what I think is missing is the satisfaction. I think that that idea of working so hard to do and emulate exactly what they’re doing, I think that’s not sustainable. Here’s the deal. You’re watching someone else, and you just want to be like them because they’re successful. Well, what happens when they’re not successful anymore? Then you have to reinvent yourself to be like the next person that culture tells us is a success. Not only is it exhausting, it’s not sustainable, and I don’t think that you’ll have that true satisfaction because you’re constantly wondering, “Am I doing enough? Am I who she is? Because when I do that, then I’m going to get the accolades. Then I’m going to get the applause. I’m going to get the attention.” It can’t sustain you, and it’s constantly changing.
If there’s somebody out there who feels like they don’t know what it looks like to be themselves, what would you say to them?
Isn’t that the question of the hour: “Who am I?” I think that we’ve all felt that. I think that we all will kind of walk that journey of going, “Who am I? What was I put here to do? What did God put me here to do?” Honestly, I don’t think it’s like you’re going to wake up one day and be like, “I know it. I know the answer. Now I have it all figured out for the rest of my life.” I think it’s a constant journey. I look at my own personal life, the way I have figured out what I’m good at, and where I can use my gifts and talents, where my voice matters, all those things, they have come from me serving.
I have discovered so much about myself when I began to look outward. It doesn’t make sense because you’re like, “I need to look inward to figure out who I am,” but I’ve actually discovered the most about myself when I’m giving myself away for other people. Look at Jesus. He did this his whole life, and I don’t think Jesus needed to discover who He was. I think He was fully confident in who he was, but I do think that we see a life of him giving his life away and serving. When I’m trying to figure out, “Where do I fit in? Where do I belong? What are my great qualities that I might find about myself?” most of the time, I figured those out by serving and giving myself away.
For somebody who has done the work, knows who they are, but is struggling with financial obstacles or practical realities, do you have any advice?
I think we’ve all had times in our life where we feel as though we’re supposed to step out and do something, but there’s some kind of obstacle, like you said, whether that be money, or, “Do I have a place here?” or, “Is there an opportunity here?” My encouragement would be, sometimes it takes small steps to get to the big goal.
I remember when I started my podcast, I was a stay-at-home mom. I have a job. It wasn’t like I was bringing in money, so I had to have small, small, small steps. I joke all the time that I recorded my first 50 shows with my Apple earbuds. I didn’t have a real microphone.
Finances were an issue for me to kind of step into what I really thought that God was calling me to do. I just had to take small steps and small steps and small steps. Now, six years later, I have myself a nice microphone, but I didn’t start there. I think that is also something that holds people back, is this belief that, “If I’m going to do something, it has to be the finished product. It has to be how it will eventually look.” There’s a lot of learning in the process of chasing those dreams and stepping into your callings. Everybody has those roads.
What about the person who finds what they’re called to do, whether it’s a new job or a ministry, activism, and it just doesn’t work out?
Something happened to me a couple of years ago. The place that was hosting my podcast, they came out, and they were like, “Hey, we’ve been doing this a little bit wrong. Your downloads that you thought you had, they’re now cut in half.” They were cut in half for my show. I had this moment of crisis, where I thought, “I’m a failure. I thought I was good. I might as well quit because I’m not what I thought I was.”
I had my little pity party and then I had to reevaluate. I had to change what I thought was going to be success for myself because the day before I found that out, I was still faithful to making the show exactly like I thought I should be making it. The day after, I’m still making the same show, and I’m still being faithful to my purpose and my calling for my show. I look at The Happy Hour, and I’m like, “If I can encourage women, point them to Jesus, and allow people to have fun and inspire them, it’s a good show. Check.”
I had to think, “I want to strive for faithfulness over success.” Now, obviously, I want to do good at everything, but I think a lot of times success is a moving target. I think culture changes what they say is successful. It’s hard to keep up with. You just have to reevaluate the way you’re thinking about it. Were you faithful with what you were supposed to do? Then I think that you can change the language a little bit.
To play devil’s advocate, You be You is a self-centered idea for Christians, and Christians shouldn’t be focused on themselves. Is there any validity to that idea?
I got a really mean comment on Instagram. Believe it or not, there’s people that just want to be mean.
“We’re supposed to look like Christ. We’re not supposed to be self-centered. Nothing we do is for us.” I very politely responded. I was like, “Thank you for the nice words about a book you haven’t read. I agree with that so much.” One of my favorite conversations in this book is about how our gifts were never meant for us, that they were meant to serve others around us. Anything that you are, anything that you are successful at, good at, gifts, talents, voice, it’s all because of Jesus. What we do with that is we make him known and bring him glory.
Our highest calling is not to be a wife or a mom, but our highest calling is to make God known and bring him glory. That’s what this whole message is about, is, “Hey, God’s giving you good things. He’s given you gifts. He’s given you talents. Do something with them. Don’t just sit around because when you do, people see Jesus, not you.”