5 Things Frances Ha Taught Me About Young Adulthood

We’ve been daydreaming about these years ever since high school. We grow up, go to college and whatnot, and then we are continuously smacked in the face with reality for the rest of our lives. There’s a funny stage in there where we are grown ups trying to grow up still. It’s a cliche sense, but a noteworthy one. Noah Baumbach’s 2012 film, Frances Ha, examines a focal point in adulthood that has become one of the most relatable in recent time.Growing up and searching for that complete independence and self-sufficiency are things that can intimidate the adult who is still figuring themselves out. From dabbling with credit cards to growing up through friendships, our protagonist, Frances, decides to tackle her issues and follies with an earnest and light-hearted style. She’s a 27 year-old post-graduate in Brooklyn who actually has a lot more to offer us than you may think. Here are some universal takeaways from Frances Ha that can alleviate some young adult blues.


It’s ok to be disorganized

“I’m not messy, I’m busy,” Frances tells her roommate, as she’s picking clothes off the bed- clothes that are actually thrown everywhere in her room. Frances doesn’t have things figured out. In fact, the majority of the film is her trying to navigate her life in such a clumsy fashion that it becomes a charm we know all too well. Her messy attributes give way to an organized pursuit of success and it becomes something a lot of us can relate to. We want everything the world has to offer and yes, we are sometimes chaos in the ways we decide to carry ourselves. It’s like having a messy room but knowing exactly where everything is when you happen to need it. Disorganization is not a precursor to failure.

Frances stumbles through different housing situations, encounters with others, and an unpromising dance apprenticeship. She illustrates how we can be both optimistic and scattered with a real purpose. Life isn’t always direct and pristine. Frances’ gleeful mind is the driving force in the film; a boundless and klutzy nature. It’s easy to look around you, see the mess that is your working life, and give up. Little do we know, it’s nothing to discourage. It’s all part of the genius that is you.


You don’t have to pull back on your quirks.

Frances Ha is so very nostalgic and not just in its decision to be a black and white film. We feel so many moments of restless perseverance and all those feelings when we were scared to take risks and say what we feel. Frances never stays mute. She is a silly, trip of a person, but we love the joy and pride in her when she speaks her mind to people who really just don’t care. It reminds us of those times we felt we were taking the biggest of risks and hoping to not fall flat on our faces. You know those, “I really wish I didn’t say / do that,” moments. Whether it’s sending that one text, reciting that big speech, or even just meeting new people, don’t hold back. Sometimes, the world doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, or it won’t care for it. It’s almost humorous how easily we can feel belittled by the unspoken thoughts of strangers. But you know what? Why shouldn’t we just go for it? If Frances finds refuge in committing to the things she says, it stands as a reminder that we shouldn’t be reeling back our thoughts and actions when it’s our hearts that want to be heard.

After having dinner at the house of a colleague who’s letting her stay for a while, Frances explains a moment she yearns for, which spells out a vulnerability that grows itself without Sophie’s 24/7 companionship. “I want this one moment. It’s what I want in a relationship, which might explain why I’m single now,” Frances says, as she goes on to explain an emotionally intimate scenario where you lock eyes with someone in a party, knowing full and well how that is your person in this life. Here is where she lays her true aspirations out to view. It is reflective of her engaging reality and how it may be falling apart, but it doesn’t even damage her disposition. She goes all in with it, despite the sound of crickets in the room. Any idiosyncrasies you may have, I guarantee you that expressing those is one of the most liberating things about being a person.


Mistakes are part of the process

Frances indulges in the way things like to fall apart while falling into part. “I like things that look like mistakes,” she says. While we see her make subpar efforts to become financially aware and socially accepted, she can’t help but make faults in her run through the film. She unabashedly decides to use a mailed-in credit card to fly to Paris for two days, where she works as a “drink pourer,” and has a truly uneventful weekend that will bring her some debt. It’s contagious just how free-spirited she is even if her goals aren’t aligning in a timely manner. In one scene, she runs, dances, and frolics down the street to David Bowie’s “Modern Romance,” a tune that only amplifies her invigorating content for life.

We all have those instances where we think that, even just for this tiny moment, we can splurge and live for the now. Nothing else needs to exist. When Frances gets a tax rebate check in the mail, she excitedly calls up a guy she met at Sophie’s party and invites him to dinner. Being the independent soul she is, Frances offers to pay after the dinner, to which her debit card gets declined. “I’m so embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet,” she says. After being told only cash or credit is accepted, Frances sprints down the streets to an ATM for the cash, a feeling of helpless scrambling that rings familiar to us. Maybe these moments are actually more reoccurring than we make it seem. We get so caught up in small bursts of unrelenting joy and power that we forget just how fast that power can be taken away. We learn from yet another botched attempt for glory.


In order to grow, you have to let go

A pivotal part in maturing is how we react to changing times. Things will hit us like a tidal wave when we are least prepared for it. Frances is forced to find her wings and function without her best friend, Sophie, whose surge of independence leaves Frances bewildered. Sophie clearly has her stuff together and she doesn’t think twice to make life changing decisions, even if it means having to let Frances adjust to sudden change. Frances tells Sophie, over a cigarette by their Brooklyn flat window, “The coffee people are right. We are like a lesbian couple that doesn’t have sex anymore.” This plays to their close bond and how they seem to trek through life always supporting the other. It’s when Sophie tells Frances of moving out with her boyfriend to her dream city of Tribeca that creates a shift in their relationship. It pushes Frances to find a new place to live, explore her potential with a career, and find out how to be a singular, functioning adult.

Frances experiences a departure from Sophie, which the film portrays as a crutch to her growth as a person. It’s not that she was dependent of Sophie. The story is closed in on how Frances utilizes her potential and how she blossoms on her own without wondering how the two friends will take on the world at each other’s side. Letting go of things that have been silently limiting you is easier said than done. Old habits can be the worst to break out of, and it’s no easier if that habit is genuinely a part of you. In Frances’ case, she only needs to learn to cooperate with her own wants and needs. Be selfish with yourself. Think about what you can do to help yourself in your own creative endeavors, and then multiply that. Loosening up from distractions is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Let go of the things that keep you worried, restrained, and concealed. Learn to embrace new philosophies and welcome in things you’ve been eyeing for some time now. You can only go up from here.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

This is quite possibly the biggest lesson the film details. Near the end, Frances is rewarded in a way that brought her arc newfound hope. Putting yourself out there can be incredibly frightening. Frances takes forever to come around full circle and seize her moment. For her, it was a journey of having to mature on her own and in her own time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a story for the growing young adult and it reminisces the discovery of independence. We can be so fixated on the prospect of success that we don’t always place ourselves in the right position for it. Frances’ trials and tribulations through a city so enthralled with success pinpoint a tender outlook.

A lot of success is achieved through taking chances; something our Frances needed to understand.

Even the little successes were reachable. Whether Frances decided to take those chances was entirely up to her. It’s hard to find the inspiration that makes us tick. Frances tackles things like any other young adult with compromising urges would. Her worth was always there. She just needed to stumble a few times on her own and meet others to truly see it in the end. This is how we come to realize that these goals, however huge or mundane they can be, are so very attainable if you never sell yourself short and settle.

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