Why Jamie Otis was never the same after filming The Bachelor – Exclusive

It’s been called the “worst kiss of all time” (via Elite Daily). Indeed, New York City registered nurse Jamie Otis’ awkward smooch with Bachelor Ben Flajnik in 2012 did not result in a rose — yet if it weren’t for their lack of connection, she would have never married Doug Hehner in the pilot season of Married at First Sight in 2014. Six years later, she and Doug have two littles, a two-year-old girl named Henley Grace, and baby boy Hendrix, born in May.  

In an exclusive interview with The List, Jamie revealed that she was not being true to herself while on The Bachelor – and that it was one fan who taught her an important life lesson that’s changed her forever.

No one on The Bachelor knew about Jamie's past

Unlike Married At First Sight — with a team of psychologists going deep into each participant’s background — none of the Bachelor producers delved into Jamie’s background, she said. “So the interesting thing about The Bachelor is that even though I was talking to producers, which would then have a camera on them, about where I came from and my circumstances in my life — hav[ing] custody of my siblings and [the situation with] my mom — I never peeped a word of any of that to the Bachelor, to Ben, who was my bachelor that time. Or to any of the girls,” Jamie revealed. She does recall telling just one other contestant about her past when she was in Panama.

At the time of The Bachelor’s filming, Jamie was relieved that the producers were not prying into her upbringing. “I was so embarrassed about living in a trailer, having custody of my siblings, my mom’s a drug addict,” Jamie said. “I don’t know who my father is. To me, I was like, ‘Who would want to marry a girl like that? Who wants to be in a relationship with all of that baggage? And so I didn’t want to share it, because I was embarrassed of who I was and where I came from.”

Jamie eventually came to realize, though, that her baggage didn’t make her a lesser person. “And the one thing that The Bachelor did for me that I will forever be thankful for, is it’s taught me that it doesn’t matter that my mom is a drug addict and that I have custody of my siblings and that I’ve been on welfare to raise my siblings,” Jamie explained. “That doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person and those aren’t circumstances that I chose. I had no choice but to kind of fight to provide, really. And I shouldn’t be ashamed and embarrassed.”

One young Bachelor fan helped Jamie accept her truth

Jamie’s lightbulb moment — that she shouldn’t try to hide her past — didn’t actually happen on the set of The Bachelor. It was one young fan who is responsible for this “aha” moment. “The kicker of it all was I remember I was on a train in Manhattan. I was going downtown to do something,” Jamie recounted. “And this young girl, she must have been in high school, tapped me on the shoulder and she said, ‘Are you Jamie Otis from The Bachelor?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And I didn’t get recognized an awful lot. But this little girl said, ‘Oh, I saw that you were a nurse and now I want to be a nurse.’ And I was like, ‘Wow.’ I just never realized… It just meant so much to me.”

Jamie then realized that she was a positive influence on people, just the way she was. “And I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I can potentially help someone in some sort of way. I can connect with that young girl and be a good role model, maybe.’ I don’t know,” Jamie said. “And so it really taught me to not be ashamed of where I came from and to just own it and be proud of who I am, the fact that I fought my way out of that.”

Meeting this one young fan made Jamie realize that no one should be ashamed of having to fight harder for success than people who are born into privilege. “Also, it would be a shame if a little girl was ashamed of where she was from, because she’s in the same situation. It’s nothing to be ashamed of if you live in a trailer park, maybe you can’t afford a fancy home. It doesn’t mean that you’re not a great person and you don’t have a lot to offer someone,” Jamie said.

The Bachelor taught Jamie to be open about where she came from

Poverty, Jamie emphasized, is nothing to be embarrassed about. “And the same thing goes for if you happen to be on welfare. No one wants to be on welfare. And it was always very, very embarrassing to my mom that she was on it. And then of course I had to be on it when I had custody of my sisters. So I was in school. I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want a soul to know. And I wouldn’t tell a soul because I just felt, I don’t know, little, because of it,” Jamie confessed. “But truth of the matter is, is that if that little girl who stopped me on the subway happened to be on welfare, I would’ve been like, ‘Girl, be proud of yourself that you have aspirations to get out of this situation.'”

Even though she learned the lesson the hard way through her uncomfortable interaction with The Bachelor‘s Ben, Jamie says she is grateful that this show taught her self-compassion, and to appreciate her own resilience. “I guess it just really taught me that it’s okay that you come from different circumstances than others,” Jamie said. “And that they’re maybe less than fortunate, but you’re still a good person. And so essentially, I want to be able to share that with other little girls that are in the same situation. [I’m now an] entirely different person because I was very open.”

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