For as long as I can remember, I felt like I didn't have an identity and desperately wanted one. My family didn't have cool ethnic food in our history, or any religious rituals to remind us of our heritage and connect us to the past. Our ancestors came over from England. I've never been to England, but from what I've heard, the English aren't particularly well known for their delicious cuisine or attractive religious idols. When I was a teenager I wanted to be Italian. I saw Italians as attractive and exotic. I liked their food and their swarthy complexions. For better or worse they had and still have a rich history of popes and pasta.
I could write at length about my quest for identity. I actually find a great deal of my journey to find "Jamie" quite amusing. However, I also really admire my chutzpah to put myself in uncomfortable and completely foreign situations, in order to learn more about myself and to grow into the person that I want to be.
Now that I'm a bit wiser about myself and life, I realize that my need for identity didn't really stem from my lack of an "exotic" family history. Yes, traditions are important and they help create identity. I would have loved to have grown up with traditions. However, I had a close, loving, smart, quirky family and that's a wonderful thing. My problem was internal and no external conditions could have changed that. I've tried on a lot of different hats in my life and that has been a blessing. But ultimately, I've got to look within and get to know myself starting from the basic level of what are my likes and dislikes. Do I like crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Gershwin or Metallica? Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Moose Tracks? As I ask and answer those questions I start to discover the "flavor" of me. I have always had an identity, it's just been buried deep inside myself waiting to be excavated and explored. It's time to pull out the shovel and the gardening gloves and start digging.