2 min read

We Are All Afraid

We’re scared. All of us are scared. Even the people who are saying This Isn’t A Big Deal, You Shouldn’t Be Worried, Stop Being Afraid, Stop That!! They’re scared too — they’re terrified. It’s just that they want other people to stop being afraid, because maybe it will mean there’s nothing to be scared of after all.

We are scared that we will run out of toilet paper. We are scared that we will run out of flour. We are scared that our friends will get sick. We are scared that our loved ones will die. We are scared that there’s no one to save us. We are scared to be alone.

But I think that the fear of being alone is, in this particular moment, a funny one. It’s funny to me because right now, for the first time in a long time, we are all afraid together. We have different levels of fear and different levels of preparedness and different expectations — but we are all scared of the same thing.

The little virus that can only survive in lung tissue, that can’t stand up to soap, that spreads with the speed and tenacity of small-town gossip, has united us. It’s delivered us a fear that we know to be valid. There is no cause, in this moment, to pretend confidence or invulnerability. We are able, finally, to turn to each other and say “I am afraid, and you are afraid, and we can carry our fear together.” And the amazing thing is, we’re actually doing it.

Over the past several days, my friends and colleagues and I have been checking in with each other more often than we ever have, with a kind of honesty and tenderness that usually terrifies us. Our fear of vulnerability has been replaced by the realization that it is better to be afraid together than to pretend the fear doesn’t exist.

We don’t want to feel alone, and we don’t want our friends to feel alone, and because humans are social creatures of immense creativity, we are already finding ways to connect even in this moment of fear and uncertainty. We are sharing as much advice and information as we possibly can. We are making plans to share resources with those who don’t have them. We are seeking out the technologies that will allow us to spend time with each other safely, learning new methods of communication and interaction at lightning speed. We are setting up new protocols for remote socialization because in the end, we are all desperate to take care of each other.

We are asking each other if we are okay and we mean it, we really want to know, we want the truth. And we are finally answering each other honestly: I’m not okay, I’m very afraid of the future, but I’m doing my best.

We are not okay. We are all very afraid. But we are all doing our best, and we are all together in this, and I think that’s just fucking beautiful.

Housekeeping: tomorrow night’s open thread will be for paid subscribers only, but comments on this post are open to everyone. If you need a place to be scared, to not feel alone, to ask for resources, to share your plans and strategies and coping mechanisms, feel free to do it here. Be kind to each other.