Je-m’en-foutisme

Thursday, January 1, 2015

For a while, my friend Ann and I have been joking about our motto being “Who gives a shit anyway.” This postcard came across her desk and she gave it to me. I watched the honey badger video.

Honey badger doesn’t care.

Ann tells a story about her friend Claudia going to see the performance artist Laurie Anderson speak in New York City. Someone in the audience asked her how she handled comments or criticism about her work, about what people thought about her. And her answer was something along the lines of “Oh I don’t worry about that at all. No one else really cares what you’re doing.”

Her point being that people are more or less self-absorbed, they’re too worried about themselves to worry about what anyone else is doing, so it’s really not worth thinking about.

So that’s really been a guiding princple of ours. Just do what you want to do, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks you should be doing. Who cares about them anyway.

I don’t think I realized when I wrote last year about Julia Child and quoted the Laura Shapiro biography with Julia’s quote from a French Chef episode talking about needing to have what the French call “je m’enfoutisme” that that’s basically what that means. (According to Google Translate, the literal translation of “je m’en foutisme” is “I don’t care attitude”.)

So I’ve been talking about that a lot lately.

In an interesting coincidence, I turned on the radio last week for the first time in ages and the People’s Pharmacy was on and the guest was researcher Brené Brown.

Brené Brown had a TED talk go viral a few years ago and is very popular among a certain segment of the internet, especially the personal growth and development folks. A friend and I had a series of conversations a few years ago about her and her research.

So it was kind of funny that I turn on the radio for the first time in who knows when and here is Brené Brown, and she’s talking about the things she usually talks about, connection and vulnerability and shame.

And I don’t remember the exact context, but she’s giving an example that involves a scenario at work where people are asked to take ownership of a project, and someone might speak up and be excited about it, and others will ridicule that person for caring.

She said this idea of not being willing to care about things is a big problem, people who just don’t care.

So that seems funny to me, I’m going around telling everyone they need to channel Julia Child and have je-m’en-foutisme and Brené Brown is talking about how bad it is to not care.

And that reminds me of another story that Brené Brown tells that made me think of a similar story that I liked better.

Brené Brown tells a story about how her daughter was at a sleepover and decided she didn’t want to spend the night, she called home and asked to be picked up. Brené went and picked her up and told her she was very proud of her for being so brave and calling home and admitting she was scared, for realizing she just wasn’t ready to spend the night at someone’s house.

This made me think of a story I read that Duke basketball’s Coach K told. He said that once when his daughter was young, after Duke had lost badly to UNC, she called home crying and asked him to come get her, kids were taunting her and being cruel. She wanted to come home. He told her he wouldn’t come get her, that that’s not how they did things. He said, “I’ll bring you a Duke sweatshirt.”

I love that story. I’ll bring you a Duke sweatshirt.

So I’m not sure what the point of this is, except that maybe I’m old school, taking Coach K and Julia Child over Brené Brown. I dunno.

And I feel like when I came up with the idea for this post I actually did have I had a point, but now I don’t, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’m done with school on April 29 and I am hopeful that my brain will recover enough to allow me to start writing again. Right now just getting from one day to the next is the best I can do.

Onward and upward, and happy 2015 to everyone.

8 Responses to “Je-m’en-foutisme”

  1. judilyn Says:

    I always enjoy your stories. Will be glad when you share more of them with us! ;->

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

  2. Robin Says:

    I don’t see a contradiction. Everybody’s point seems to be to do what you like, be passionate about whatever you’re passionate about (art, French cooking, a project at work), and don’t worry about what other people think. I think I’ll give it a try!
    I also look forward to more posts when you finish school. In
    the meantime, happy new year.

  3. J. Flanagan Says:

    I agree with Robin – I think both situations are a different side of the same coin. It’s one thing to own your own passions and your situation – it’s another when you are “brought along” and told you need to take ownership. I think there are a lot of people out there (me included) that are “taking ownership” of things that we don’t want or need to which turns us off from doing that on those things we would truly like to take ownership. It’s about getting clear on what matters to you and focusing on that (and not everyone else) – which is difficult thing to do even if you think you are doing it.

    Also looking forward to more posts when you finish school – wishing you all the best.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    @Robin — I know, it’s true that they are all generally saying the same thing, it’s just funny that it comes out in opposite ways depending on the circumstances. At some point in my writing I was trying to get to that and tie it all together, but then I felt like I couldn’t get it to wrap up properly so I just had to leave it at that. But you are right. Everyone just needs to do their own thing.

  5. Molly once Grover Says:

    I think there’s something in the air:
    http://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck

    [Ed. Note – extensive vulgar language and potentially offensive references in the linked article. Reader discretion is advised.]

  6. lessisenough Says:

    @Molly

    Okay that link is totally hilarious and I approved it despite the fact that our speaker in class on Friday talked about how we shouldn’t use bad language in any of our emails or on social media because if we get sued we will be judged by people in the jury who don’t understand complex accounting rules or legal issues but will base their opinion on us about how we present ourselves. Aunt Bea is in the jury. Don’t swear.

    So I just need to say that I DIDN’T WRITE THAT! And I would never use the f word with that expression. And I only used the s word in my original post because that’s what the postcard said.

  7. Molly once Grover Says:

    Ooh, I get a black box warning! I am happy to be your vulgar and offensive correspondent, although I would never phrase it that way, either, and I think it very much detracted from the overall argument (but succeeded in what I’m sure was a click-bait goal). But it was so strange when multiple people forwarded the other thing to me at the same time you came out with your — granted, infinitely more refined and intellectual, but thematically similar — musings. Micro-zeitgeist.

  8. lessisenough Says:

    It’s the collective unconscious.

    Obviously I totally agree with what he wrote, and I think basing it on the f-bomb was part of his point (emphasizing how much he doesn’t care what other people think), but I agree with you that in general I think it detracted from the argument.

    I think I said this in a post about Julie Powell, who was criticized for her language, that I don’t in general have a problem with cursing, but it feels gratuitous to me, and lazy. The phrase my friend Ann uses at Scrap Exchange, where at any moment you could end up with a small child or a church lady next to you, is “mixed company.”

    I think you’re better off treating everything you write for public comsumption, including on the internet, as being for mixed company.


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