We’re living through an especially difficult moment every which way we turn: blooming COVID variants, stubborn vaccine hesitancy, ongoing political, economic, and foreign policy turmoil, climate change… and then the recent news that OnlyFans was about to kick erotic content creators off their site, only to backtrack!
Without question for many of us, the past few years has been an era of destabilization, disruption and despair, with seemingly no end in sight.
Let me state right up front, I don’t have pat answers for any of these anxieties, and I don’t want anything I say here to minimize the very real pain folks are experiencing as the ground keeps shifting under our feet. But I would like to offer some words of wisdom that have helped me throughout the years encountering seemingly intractable problems and instability.
Whenever my heart is shaken and scared, I turn to the wisdom of Pema Chödrön, a Buddhist nun form the US and author of the classic book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. As the title suggests, she addresses head-on our deep human need for stability, certainty and safety. The problem is, real life rarely offers any of those things, as much as we desperately crave them.
As she writes:
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
Chödrön teaches the importance of living in the moment, seeing our situation for what it truly is and not projecting the past upon it or our fears of the future. She advises us to practice detachment, while recognizing that we can’t really know the true outcome of any situation, whether it will eventually turn out good or bad or some mixed-up combination of both.
As she writes: “Relaxing with the present moment, relaxing with hopelessness, relaxing with death, not resisting the fact that things end, that things pass, that things have no lasting substance, that everything is changing all the time — that is the basic message.”
This is where meditation — even for only a few minutes throughout the day — can be especially helpful, in helping us develop a little bit of space between ourselves and what’s happening. More about how to meditate and meditation’s many benefits here.
Self-Care During Uncertainty
Some additional suggestions for uncertain times:
- Keep checking in with yourself. Anxiety and depression take a lot of different forms.
- Be gentle. Try not to beat yourself up when life feels hard — it helps nothing, and only causes you to suffer more.
- Enforce your boundaries, and listen to your body
- Reach out to folks you can talk to about your feelings — you’re certainly not the only one struggling with these difficult times. And to the best of your ability, try to be there for your loved ones as well.
- Even as we have no fixed notion of what the “New Normal” will be, take steps to return to the old things you used to love to do but couldn’t, along with trying new things.
- At the same time, resist the urge to get swept up in FOMO/YOLO by doing too much, overextending or taking unnecessary risks.
And finally, try to keep the fact in mind that this moment is temporary. If the COVID era has taught us anything, it’s focusing on really matters instead of what’s transitory: the importance of community, mutual aid, quality of life and mental and physical health.
Uncertainty and Camming/Sex Work
The sex industry is nothing if not dynamic, but this SESTA-FOSTA/COVID/OF era has been especially tumultuous. The combined forces of quarantine plus reduced economic activity drove a lot of folks into online sex work. It’s probably still to soon to tell how many will revert back to contact sex work and how many will leave the adult industry altogether as the pandemic fades and the economy improves. How we — and the industry — will be changed remains to be written, and we will be the ones to write it.
I encourage you to remember that throughout most of human history, what we’ve done as a species is muddle through — for all the Marvel movies out there, life rarely resolves with a clean, tidy “happy ending.” Learning to make friends with uncertainty, while taking good care of ourselves and each other through the tough times — that’s what true superheroes are made of.
Until next time, be sweet to yourself.
Lola Davina is a longtime veteran of the sex industry and author of Thriving in Sex Work: Sex Work and Money, her followup to the formative Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry. You can get the audio version of Sex Work and Money via Awesound here. Contact Davina at Lola.Davina@ynotcam.com and visit her on Twitter at @Lola_Davina.
Image of Lola Davina courtesy Pat Mazzera.