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.


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