Mia Violet is writing in lockdown
we talk about makeup, escapism, connection + more
just givn’r | (also: just giver; just giv’er) | adjective | Canadian slang, meaning to give it all you’ve got. Used in reference to partying and sports; in the dictionary of post emosh and the context of 2020 we are all out here just givn’r i.e. getting by as best we can.
“How are you handling your 39th day without human contact?”
“Oh you know, just givn’r!” (said nonchalantly, while crying)
One of the reasons I decided to become a writer is to have a semi-legit front through which I could talk to strangers. Mia Violet was one of those strangers, in the sense that I didn’t know her personally. I have, however, been following her on Twitter for a few years. Which, I guess, still makes us total strangers, and is pretty weird conceptually, but this is just how the internet works. I don’t know, ask Mark Zuckerberg or Tom from MySpace or someone else who wants to get all in-depth and internet-y and will probably mansplain you. I am very tired.
If you haven’t been following Mia Violet for several years, as I have, you should know that she is a UK-based writer, public speaker, ice cream connoisseur, bisexual trans women and the author of the book Yes, You Are Trans Enough: My Transition From Self-Loathing to Self-Love. She writes about pop culture, trans representation, makeup, mental health and more. She’s a positive presence on my timeline, but not in the contrived, syrupy, slogan-y way. She seemed really nice. She is really nice! I know this because I called her one afternoon so that we could no longer be strangers. We spoke about lockdown and connection and makeup and some other things and you can read them all here:
The essential-ness of escapism
Mia: When lockdown first began I thought: I’ll be fine, I’ve got projects to get on with. It will be alright. During the first couple of weeks, every day felt so repetitive. I was eating the same food, doing the same things. As time went on, I felt my mood dipping and dipping. I decided to throw myself into my next book project. I thought: I’ll write it every day and think of it as a job. It stops the days from just blurring together.
I also started reading a lot more and I’m playing the Tomb Raider games on PS4. I’ve gone back to games that I’ve already played, even though I have newer ones. I think there is that comfort element to that. I know I like them, they’re familiar. There’s a structure to them. There’s a few to get through so I know it’s going to last a while. When I need a bit of escapism I’ll drop in for like an hour.
I suppose the stuff I’m doing to distract myself and relax is quite escapism-based. I’m not watching the news. I’m not doing anything that’s keeping this lockdown stuff in my mind, because it’s already on my mind!
On the subject of connection
Mia: It’s very strange — I would expect this to be quite an isolating time socially, but instead I’m connecting to people more. I guess it’s because we’re all in the same situation. Usually there’s a feeling of, ‘oh I don’t want to bother that person, I don’t know what they’re dealing with’. But at the moment, we’re all at home, we’re all stressed out. It’s sort of like having the permission to reach out to more people, which is something that I hope will last after this.
Lockdown for the (already) anxious
Mia: I was talking to a friend the other day, and I was saying that as someone who has struggled with anxiety like most of my life, a lot of the time when I get anxious I remind myself that this is just in my head. I’m overanalysing things, I’ve got to rationalise and use logic to push through the situation. But now there are reasons to be anxious. Everyone’s anxious — it’s not just my own mental health contorting the situation.
That’s been a bit of a change — getting used to idea that there’s a reason to be anxious, because this is an anxious situation. I don’t need need to deny it or run away from it, I need to try and do things to keep myself busy and positive.
Yes, makeup CAN be good for our mental health!
Mia: For a long time make up for me was like a shield; I put it on to hide. Over time that flipped for me, and it became a way to have fun and be creative. When lockdown began I decided to do one day on - one day off and give my skin a break. I’m noticing I feel better on the days I put make up on, rather than the days I don’t. Now I put it on most days. I’m using it more for mental health reasons more than anything else. It has this effect of reminding me that I deserve to have fun and look nice. But it also brings some form of normality to the situation. Rather than think, oh well, everything’s ridiculous at the moment and nothing matters, I’m making the decision to still maintain that routine.
Also, because I can’t go out and replace any of my regular products, I’m going through my drawer like ok what do I own that I never use — let’s use it now. I have an excuse to play with it and that’s been fun.
Here is something nice to consider
Mia: I think this has been an experience that has unified people. I’m going through social media, and it doesn’t matter where people live or how their lives are different from mine. We’re all feeling the same things and we’re all wanting the same comfort; we’re experiencing all of this together.
I went to the chemist the other day and there was another woman coming up the road towards me, so we moved out of the way at each other. And we just smiled at each other. We didn’t say anything. It was a little moment of human connection. Like yeah, we’re in this together; it’s weird isn’t it?
Yesterday, I was looking out my window. I have a neighbour out the back that I’ve never talked to in my entire life. I saw him come outside and sit down on a chair and eat a sandwich and go back inside and I thought: that’s so relatable. We can’t go anywhere, but we can sit directly outside our houses and feel like at the very least, we’re outside.
So, how exactly do you write a book during a global pandemic?
Mia: This situation, bizarrely, has made it easier for me to write. It’s taken all the excuses away. My excuses have been things like, wanting to go and see people and getting distracted by all the different things I could be doing. Or, feeling tired from having gone out the day before. Now it’s like, I’m in the house, I haven’t been anywhere, there’s not much to do. The project is there, there’s no excuse left for me.
I approach it by deciding to write tiny bit of it for something to do, thinking that if I get bored I can just stop. But usually it ends up being quite fun and I stick with it. Six months ago I’d get up on a day off I think, I could write it but also — the weather’s really nice.
It’s funny, I don’t know what it says about me that it basically took the end of the world to get me to finish this book.
JUST GIVN’R is an interview series from post emosh. I encourage you to forward it to everyone you know, and share it on every social media platform available to you.
Just kidding! lol, but seriously.