on being “rude” like the french

Bonjour! I haven’t been on here in awhile, so thank you for continuing to follow my blog. I sincerely appreciate you.

One thing I’ve been struggling with is other people’s perceptions of me. I get asked what country I’m from, what color my mom and dad are, how long I’ve lived in this country, people want to touch my hair, and tell me how stuck up they think I am, or thought I was until they have gotten to know me. Last week a client’s son threw a toy at my face, a few weeks earlier he told me I couldn’t go to his birthday party because I was brown. Another client told me that being loud is part of “my culture” and so far I’ve been “nice and soft spoken”. (I don’t get paid nearly enough to deal with this foolishness). And yet, I am always the one who is “stuck up” or a “bitch” or “rude” or “uppity” or “bougie”. I’ve been feeling very French these past few weeks. Feel free to insult me and then tell all your friends how mean I am.

Google “are the French rude” or “french and rude” and you’ll find thousands of articles written about this. It’s gotten to the point where France is begging it’s citizens to be nice to tourists. Because it’s totally fine to come into someone’s country, not make an attempt to speak their language or understand their culture, and make a total ass of yourself if you have $$ to spend.

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I’m American, but in my head I’m a total french girl (hence the name fakefrenchgirl) so a part of me can relate to all of this. People have this one-sided perception of who I am, without ever getting to know me, or what I’m actually like. Same with the French. You can’t judge someone based off of just one three second interaction. How was YOUR tone? Were YOU asking an invasive question or in MY personal space? Do I have to smile back at you and engage you in small talk? Why? There’s a difference between being polite and being friendly.

In my 30s I’ve taken to being more polite and private and less friendly (part social experiment, part personal preference). My coworkers are having a really hard time with this. If they knew me better, they’d understand my need for privacy, that I’m not a morning person, that I just want to do my work and go home, that I’m slightly terrified to be in California alone with my kids, while my husband is at sea for weeks at a time. Instead of thinking deeper or seeing me as a multidimensional person, it’s just easier to classify me as “rude” and talk about me behind my back. Kind of how the rest of the world treats the French.

This week, I encourage you to think of the people you encounter (French or otherwise) as multidimensional. Don’t buy into the stereotypes. Imagine their life and the circumstances surrounding your interaction with them. It is human nature to want to classify people and put them into perfect little categories. Try not to do that. It’s rude.

Au Revoir

 

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