I don’t care, frankly, what people think. I do what I like.
-Chef Julia Child
I don’t believe this quote means that we should have no concern whatsoever about other people and that we should just do whatever we want regardless of the impact on those around us. Unless you’re a hermit, and you have little contact with the rest of the human race, we do have to live our lives with some degree of cooperation and tolerance of others. I think what this quote tells us is that you can’t live your whole life trying to please other people, trying to impress them, or comparing yourself to them. Each of us has been given one life and we have to live it the best way we can. We will go through different stages of growth, immaturity, pain, and awareness until we have achieved some level of self-actualization. What is self-actualization? I believe it is that point in our lives, usually when we are past our middle age, when we become who we really are and we begin to realize our true potential and personal power. Self-actualization is at the top of Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”. You will never be who you are meant to be if you spend your entire live trying to please others or meet their expectations. I think Julia Child is saying that pleasing yourself is not inappropriate, or selfish, and that each of us must walk down the path that calls us. In her case, it was the call to learn French cooking so that anyone could cook like a chef with a little effort. Each of us is more than someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s mother or father, or someone’s husband or wife. We may be one or more of all these things but self-actualization is when we discover our true essence and our true self. Do not confuse identity with roles. Doing what you like may be selfish but it can also be the path to your self-awareness.