Jules Sebastian’s family have been in the spotlight since 2003, when her husband Guy won the first season of Australian Idol.
It was a thrilling thing to watch at the time, as a home-grown “church boy” from Adelaide made his way through the ranks, sharing his faith along the way and going on to become one of Australia’s most successful recording artists.
The win put a lot of attention on the young couple, with Jules telling Hope 103.2, “Essentially we sort of grew up from our very early twenties with a lot of eyes on us”.
“And so you’re very aware of yourself, and you’re very aware of decisions that you’re making, and conversations you’re having and the things you’re doing in your life, because there’s a lot more attention on you,” she said.
As Guy built his career, Jules developed her own as a stylist, TV Host and philanthropist, and the pair became parents to sons Hudson and Archie. Now, Jules is sharing some behind-the-scenes of that journey in her first book, Tea & Honesty.
Collecting wisdom learned from guests on her Tea with Jules series along with her own life experience, in the book she talks about the personal wrestle she’s had with identity, purpose, grief and much more.
Jules admitted finding her own identity as Guy’s career was taking off, was a steady process of growing in confidence – not because she was put off by his successes but because, as a shy girl from Adelaide, she was suddenly the “girlfriend of a celebrity” with an assumed brand and persona.
A simple example Jules remembers is of being dressed in long floral maxi dresses for photoshoots – something she figured was what the “magazines needed for their look” – but secretly wanting to choose the leather pants and oversized jackets.
“It’s just clothes at the end of the day,” Jules acknowledged, but as she gained confidence to push back and not feel like she “was going to ruin it for Guy”, she said, “in those small moments… I gained a bit more confidence and reminded myself that I know myself best”.
“I know what’s best for me, I know what resonates with me and I know what I’m comfortable with and not comfortable with.
“It’s a bigger picture example to not let other people define you by what they think you should be – you get to decide. It seems so simple, but those labels and that identity can be placed on you in other ways.”
Purpose is another area of life that Jules has had a tug-o-war with over the years. Mostly, she said, because the idea of “purpose” carried great weight in her Christian faith.
“[Purpose] was a scary word for me,” Jules said.
“[At church] there was a lot of emphasis and talking about your purpose, and who you’re going to be in the future, and what you’re going to do for God, and what you’re going to do for the world.
“I took on that pressure of, ‘If I don’t find that one thing that I was born for, then I’m a complete and utter failure… and the more I put the pressure on, the less I could figure it out.
“I would go around in this cycle where I felt for the most part for most of life, like I’d failed myself because there were lots of things that I liked, and lots of things that I was interested in.”
To think “your purpose” had to be singular was debilitating for Jules, but not anymore.
“One thing I’ve learned over the years is that all of those things that I’ve tried and all of those things I’ve experienced have made up who I am today, and that has given me purpose.
“My purpose in life is just to be more and more myself every single day. The more I’m myself, the greater impact I can have on other people, because it gives them permission to be themselves as well. I just want to get about this life being a good person – treating people with kindness. Loving people, loving my kids, loving my husband and go to sleep. Repeat.”
Long-time fans of Jules’ husband Guy will remember in 2012 when his single Get Along, and it’s lyrics about universalising world religion, prompted revelations he’d stepped aside from his Christian roots, and wasn’t the “church boy” he’d started out as anymore.
Some in the church world cringed, and in the background of Guy’s public confessions, Jules told Hope 103.2 she also took time to reflect on her faith.
Working in the “big worlds” of fashion and music, she said, “[The rethink] was coming down to exposure more than anything else”.
“We didn’t have that much exposure when we were going to church every Sunday in Adelaide. That was our life, and that was our bubble – and it was a beautiful bubble, I wouldn’t change one thing – but I think when your world expands, your mind expands. There were lots of questions we were asking each other about our faith, and I think it was a really healthy thing to go through.
“I actually really enjoyed the journey of the question marks and the figuring out of things because I think for me, it all just came back to the same thing: I can’t get through living this life without believing in something. I just can’t. And now I know that for sure.
“I can’t wake up and think, ‘Oh we’re just here, we’re just existing’. It’ not something that I think I could survive. Having a belief and a faith that there’s something bigger is what gets me through, and I’m happy that I came around back to that perspective… but I feel like I’ve got a more balanced view now. It’s not just [based on] my bubble.”
Jules book Tea & Honesty is out now. Listen to the full UNDISTRACTED podcast episode with Jules Sebastian in the player above.