Ask a French Girl: How to Get Your Shit Together

In keeping with April’s Get Your Shit Together theme, we asked our resident French Girl, Laura, about the getting together of her merde.

Do you feel like you have your shit together?

I have never asked myself this question…do I? I don’t think I do, but what does it mean?

I have never said to myself, “I’ll be a good human when I have my shit together. What shit? I don’t think it’s about having your life under control; it is about being happy with your shit not being together.

Do you think it will happen, though?

I don’t think so.

I was at a gym class recently where the teacher talked about “finding balance” and “awareness of our control.” To me, this is so American, that idea of living around these theories that essentially, you will be happier when you reach the “all tied up” situation or the “I have found the perfect balance” moment. It made me realize that everything is always in movement, and I don’t mean to be Carrie Bradshaw here… but is finding your balance a little ironic, knowing that you have to move to be balanced?

Take Philippe Petit for instance — the high wire artist behind Man on Wire. I am pretty sure his muscles were moving and shaking even though he had to remain tight and be precise when he crossed the towers.

When you were young, when did you think the, uh, getting together of your shit would happen?

I remember once, I was in a car with my mum and I asked, “Mum, will you help me choose the brand of the washing machine or the shape of forks/knives that I will need to get for my house when I’m grown up?”

She responded, “When the time comes for you to get them, you’ll already know which ones to get.” I remember thinking, Oh yeah, one day, I’ll be an adult.

And when you are an adult, you know! Haha, not.

Is there a French translation or equivalent for this term, “get your shit together”?

Is there? I don’t think so, because we don’t. And in France, when you don’t do something, you don’t call it anything. It’s like with dating. If you’re not dating someone, you don’t name the time where you’re “seeing someone.” You just don’t.

Update: I just asked my friend Sarah. She laughed hysterically at but then she said we could translate by saying, “Bouge toi” – “ressaisis toi” – or “bouge tes fesses.” Which is more like “move” or “get better.” A little kick in the butt to get things moving!

Do you think anyone actually has their life together?

No! I hope no one has it together, how boring: Hi, I’m mister perfect, I have it all together and no room for improvement. I am balanced and therefore not trying to be better. Okay, well, no. Goodbye.

Would you be happy if you weren’t surprised anymore because you knew it all? Having no bad day, so therefore, no good one? Would you want to know exactly what to order in a restaurant or have absolutely no questions at all about anything? Would you want to know all movies, to never have to change the channel or the music because you already know that what you are listening to or watching will please you? Would you want to be surrounded by “planned” action and zero spontaneity?

That sounds sad.

That does sound sad. Okay, so what are some things you do to make yourself feel better? 

The first thing I do is make my bed. It’s never perfectly done, but it’s done enough for me to kick off the day on the good foot.

Another thing that makes me feel “together” is when I am dressed appropriately for the weather. Having a scarf when it is actually windy, a trench when it’s rainy and not being in open-toe shoes when it’s snowing out makes me feel like a grown up.

How do you balance work and social life and fitness and money and beauty and family and clothes — how do you make it all work? Does something have to give?

Ok, let’s start from the beginning: you don’t have to exercise, shop, be social, take care of your skin, be with your family, work and count your dollars every single day.

Breathe, because a week has seven days. A month has even more, and a semester is so big, then!

Lastly, make a list of priorities and try to think of a bigger frame than the immediate moment.

Yes, it’s not cool to be extra careful with your dollars when you want to shop, but it’s super fun to be able to buy the piece you wanted to get for a long time.

Yes, it’s not cool to work early and late, but it’s so exciting to succeed at the project you have been given.

Yes, it’s not cool to be a little absent from personal life because work is taking your energy away, but it’s so, so, so nice to be able to return to your boyfriend after having worked hard.

You don’t have to have it all under perfect control. Just know that a week has seven days, and you have time. Give yourself time.

Have you ever had moments of feeling like, Yeaaa, I got this. I figured it out?

Yep! When I was able to make my Time Warner internet working with the Apple TV. I so felt that. Granted, I had a little help, but I was so proud.

Also, it’s when I know when to say, “No, I won’t be able to make it,” or, “I like spending time with you.” These are the tiniest little things, but I remember how good they make me feel.

Can you hear my own panic in these questions?!

So much – so go make your bed now! Hop hop ouste!

Laura wearing Gucci shoes, Reformation dress, Isabel Marant earrings; photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


Get more Brain Massage ?
  • Katie Waller

    My credit card expired before I lost it. That was the first time I felt like a true adult.

    • Amelia Diamond


  • When I was younger my mum used to say ‘bouge tes fesses’ whenever I felt lazy again and wasn’t doing anything productive, haha. Nowadays I don’t think I will ever 100% have my shit together and am completely fine with that.

  • Mae

    I fixed my own hot water heater last year, I felt like I could do anything after that!

  • Mallory Harmon

    I totally agree with Laura. I feel like at one moment you might feel like you have your shit together, but then something happens and you have to pick up that shit and put it back together. That’s the interesting thing about life though. And even though I’m adult, I still have to call my mom for random questions.

  • Hhahaha love this!


  • isabel

    I love this series. Does anyone know the name of the reformation dress she’s waering? i need it now!!!

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      It’s from the Jeanne Damas collection! I double checked after photographing her and it’s sold out ? Even scoured eBay and had no luck there.

  • Natty

    I feel most in control of my shit when I use a coupon at CVS

    • April Dumont

  • “Ok, let’s start from the beginning: you don’t have to exercise, shop, be social, take care of your skin, be with your family, work and count your dollars every single day.

    Breathe, because a week has seven days. A month has even more, and a semester is so big, then!”

    This advice was so soothing! It’s like I could feel the “there, there” pat on my head.’

    “Have you ever had moments of feeling like, Yeaaa, I got this. I figured it out?When I know when to say, “No, I won’t be able to make it,” or, “I like spending time with you.” These are the tiniest little things, but I remember how good they make me feel. “–I’d never have thought of this as an answer but it’s so true!

  • irachelly

    Ah, I need this dress, but it doesn’t match the one that’s linked! ☹️

  • European thinking… less drama and less deep thinking, I love it!

  • Kelly

    ‘Breathe, because a week has seven days. A month has even more, and a semester is so big, then!’
    This! We/I get so wrapped up in fitting everything in right now, but there’s no rush. There will be tomorrow or next week. I don’t have to do it all in one day.

  • Charlotte P

    Love this advice. A breath of fresh air. All is well.

  • 02bDNA

    Simplify your life.

  • This makes me feel so much better! Haha. Thanks for share. I love how honest the French always are x

  • Aggie

    Also French, I feel like she’s so right, wish I was that cool (literally) with life, have I lived out of the country for too long? Our generation is so obsessed with being perfect in all aspects of our lives, we need to chill! (me included)

  • Mark Speer

    Wonderful Art☺cle

  • This is so great! I mean does anyone ever really have all their shit together? I can’t imagine reaching a point where I have absolutely nothing left to do … and that’s ok. Life is just a never-ending to do list when you think about it, but it doesn’t have to be a boring one.

  • Mary Spanos

    Discovering this could not have come at a better time. You know those times when everything seems to be crumbling? University is getting the better of you, friendship melodramas, the hottie at your gym hasn’t been there in 2 weeks, and that little pimple above your eyebrow just won’t budge.

    Then I found this little gem, and realised it’s so perfectly fine, not to be perfectly fine. Once again thank you Man Repeller for a restoring a touch of my sanity. Not all of it though, that would just be boring.

  • Adrienne Mauro

    Well this is precisely what I needed today. Being an adult didn’t really happen today. But, there are six more days in this week 🙂

  • Not sure how I managed to miss this post, but I loved it. Her advice on the week having seven days and realizing there is time is really important. Sometimes we just want to accomplish everything in one day, but it’s good to remember that there is always more time than we realize.

  • Noelle Healy

    Oh wow this article came into my life at the MOST opportune moment! Thank you Man Repeller so damn much. I’m putting down the cat-o-9tails and the self flagellation for not having my shit together *instantly* after moving 17,300km has begun to cease. I wish your articles came in human form and they could just hang out with me, reassuring me about life throughout the day then tuck me into bed at night with a sweet forehead kiss and a, “there, there poppet, you made it :)” Oh what a world that would be! ?