It’s been over a month since, here in the U.S., we’ve been sequestered away in our homes with our families/quaranteams, or maybe you’ve been managing solo. The global COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just radically changed our worlds — if you’re checking in with yourself as so much isolation demands, you’ve probably been experiencing a lot of change, too.
Change, or more likely the anxiety change can trigger, is a leading cause of stress, insomnia, and a host of other related mental/health disorders catalyzed by sudden events and, more directly, thoughts of the unknown. It’s true, life’s uncertainty and the unknowable things (in all their vivid detail) waiting around the corner are pretty terrifying for most of us. Especially in a situation like this, as we’ve collectively watched the virus making its way from country to country, community to community, awaiting our turn.
A recent piece in the Guardian by Rebecca Solnit captured another part of the shifting puzzle for me — maybe a feeling you, too, found hard to identify or put into words, but that so specifically strikes at the heart of change, any change, and its uncanny knack for unravelling us: “A disaster (which originally meant “ill-starred”, or “under a bad star”) changes the world and our view of it. Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges. Change is not only possible, we are swept away by it.”
It’s becoming clear, too, that the aftershocks we’re likely to experience from the fallout of the pandemic will be felt for years to come — not just the physical consequences but the economic, spiritual, social, and political waves already in motion. It’s a lot. Not just in the moment, which we know is still incredibly challenging, but also when contemplating what’s ahead. Which is where we at Refinery29 are focusing our attention these days, too.
A few weeks ago, I shared a note with you on behalf of our editorial team, checking in during this historic time and giving you a space to share your view of the world right now—however big or small—as well as telling us what you might need in the days and months ahead. Hundreds of you wrote to us sharing your dispatches from quarantine, everything from your fears (losing your home, elderly parents, dying alone) to what’s bringing you comfort (Fleabag, prayer, CBD oil).
Natalie in NYC told us she’s looking for “ways I can be and feel productive and whole.” Jessica in Columbus wants to hear about “anything BUT Coronavirus.” Katie in Charlotte is craving “stories from healthcare workers” and Anna in Portland wants to know “how other women across the U.S. are handling the situation we’re in.” As we promised, every morsel of feedback you shared is sparking upcoming stories and paths to explore new information — and perhaps most importantly, guide us through the change to a new horizon (you can check out our Stay-Home Guide here).
In many ways, you all have been a lifeline for me and everyone here at Refinery29, too, knowing you’re depending on us to find that critical timing and balance between practical matters as well as the escape you crave as a result. It’s not easy, and occasionally there’s some veering too far in either direction—we appreciate the comments, even the harsh ones, but especially the encouraging ones that keep us moving forward.
As we speak, we’re actively working on stories that might not be relevant in precisely this moment, but we believe will be in months to come. How will COVID-19 permanently change our lens on the world and our lives along with it? What will our downtowns, our government, our jobs (or job search), and our entertainment look like in a year’s time? We’re wondering, too, and placing bets on what’s going to matter most.
Until then, we’re here to keep sharing and listening, and we thank you for sharing, too. Because the truth is, you’re the best reason we have for believing what’s to come is absolutely worth changing for.