• Saira D.

Your 20's in a Nutshell w/ "Frances Ha"

We’re back with another Noah Baumbach staple, so get ready to dive into reality! Frances Ha is a 2012 black and white film, showcasing the life of a 27-year-old woman living in Brooklyn. Her best friend, new housemates, going back to Sacramento to visit her family, trying to be a professional dancer, finding new places to live, and ways to earn money are all aspects of Frances’ life – and aspects of life that we, all go through as well. I found this film incredibly relatable because so much of what Frances endures are things I, or anyone that once was or currently is in their 20’s, goes through. Is my life much better organized than Frances’? Yes. Am I still faced with the same or similar obstacles highlighted in the film, as an independent young adult trying to live in the real world and create a life for myself? Totally. Did I relate parts of the protagonist and her journey, to other people in my life and/or social circles? Yes again! So when I say this film pretty much sums up your 20’s – regardless of gender – it really does. And it does so in various shapes and forms.

I found myself relating to multiple aspects of the film and the protagonist Frances, but today I’ll only be tackling two. The first of which, is age. Frances is 27 and I’m 24, but when Frances asks her housemate Benji if she looks “older than 27” and he replies, “No. 27 is old though”, I felt that. And Frances’ facial expression flowing from one of slight shock, then comprehension, and finally morphing into one of agreement after Benji says “27 is old”, is a facial expression I think anyone in their 20’s would also have, when thinking about the topic. In the grand scheme of things of course 27 isn't old, and any proper “old” person (let’s say 45+), would tell you that you're still “in the prime of your life”, or that “you're still so young”. But any child or teenager would consider you old or “older”, and anyone in their 20’s (like myself, Frances, or Benji) would consider it old.

But now let’s stop to think about this. Is 27 old? On a scale of 0-100, 27 really isn't old, but as a person in their 20’s, the closer you get to 30, the older you begin to feel. Why? Because of the notion that 30 onward means you’re really supposed to have your life mapped out, and everything you’ve been doing slightly before that should be you trying to achieve those goals, working on that career, perhaps planning a family sometime in the near future, and owning something for yourself like a car or place to live. One could label such aspects of life as “markers of adulthood” and subsequently ageing, so you really do feel old even at 24, because that’s almost 25, which is practically 30. You’re then left with this weight on your shoulders and thoughts like “damn, I really must be getting old now”, if you're seriously working toward attaining the above-mentioned markers. So when you're 27 or anywhere around that age with none of the above in the bag, you’ve not “got your shit together”, you're scrambling and just going through the motions of life while still trying to achieve those same ideals, then you really do begin to feel old. And how so? Because now, there’s the pressure of meeting expectations in a shorter amount of time – which of course also relates to ageing, as the older we get, the less time we have to do just about anything.

The second aspect of the film I sympathized with, was Frances’ rejection of an administrative role at the dance company she trains at – which she turns down because she wanted to be hired as a dancer for that same company. Having already been an apprentice for a while, and waiting for an opportunity to join the main team, working in the administration department was totally out of the question, because why would you knowingly do something that isn't what you want to do? And despite desperately needing a decent paying job, she chose instead to take on small temporary roles here and there to support herself for the time being. It isn't until later on in the film, that she finally comes to her senses and accepts the admin role – meaning she no longer had to worry about paying rent and other mundane “life bills” of the sort. Plus, she could train in the studio for free.

All this rings true for myself, and many other people regardless of age I’m sure, as it’s not uncommon to take up work that might not be in the direction of or a step toward your dream job. But having said that, Frances’ initial rejection I believe, is far more relatable to young adults, because it can be hard to see how something other than what you want, might be the better choice at the present moment. Doing something else for work that isn't at all what you want to do, doesn’t seem to make sense. It seems like a total waste of time. But as one grows and matures, you begin to understand the value of accepting what you can, as earning money is an essential means to support yourself as an independent person, and that employment doesn’t need to take up all your time and energy. One can still work toward the goals they wish to achieve – employment or career wise – with the time they now have outside of work. Even if this means you have less time to do other or more social things, or if it simply means you're putting in more effort in your day to day, when you’d rather not.

When I think about my own life, I can say I’ve definitely taken up jobs I really didn’t want, as it didn’t fit into my idea of a “career path”, or it simply wasn’t something I was keen on doing. But, understanding that it’s just another means to an end, and not letting it impede on your goals or dampen your spirits is what’s key! And Frances finally getting to such a stage showcased to me, that the process she underwent to finally get to where she is, is actually something I can relate to very much, found endearing, and even motivating to witness! All in all, time takes time! So much of life is out of our control, so all you can really do and should do, is strive to do and be the best version of yourself, despite all of life’s ups and downs. If Frances can do it… if I can do it… then so can you! As Walt Disney once said, “keep moving forward”, as you’ll get there eventually!

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