Drew Barrymore: Why I’ll Always Be An Optimist, Even During Coronavirus

Drew Barrymore is launching a blog, and we’re honoured to help share her first post, right here in her own words. 
I don’t know how to conduct myself on social media. Which is a place I usually feel very comfortable. I have found my way over the past decade, and felt like we all have an outlet to shine in all the ways we see fit. And yet right now, it is so hard to strike the right tone. I am tempted to go down an insane post-apocalyptic rabbit hole and just use this as an opportunity to shut down. Shut it all down. I had mentioned in one of my last posts on Instagram, that after I gave birth to both my daughters, it took me several months to muster the courage to embrace anything else. Not only did everything become trivial, but the insane rollercoaster of fight or flight to keep my babies alive! The emotional pitfalls of never having been in a higher stakes situation was the best analogy I could come up with for a “new normal” I had experienced. I realized that if I stared at my little ones any longer without some type of distraction, I was going to bring all of us into a very unhealthy dynamic. I’ve learned that love can take us all down as much as it can be the meaning of life.
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I’ve learned that love can take us all down as much as it can be the meaning of life.

But that was almost a week ago.
As many of us are about to revisit those days of post-baby house-bound total dizziness, a lot of our kids are older now. And we’ve learned that to love them is to help them grow up and find their own way in the world. We have spent years nurturing them with love, friends, skills, classes, and activities, (in some way) paralleling our own diverse lives where we are balancing it all. But now we are forced back into the old days of staring at each other with a strange feeling of “how did we do this before?” How did we stay at home all day and all night with the sole purpose of taking care of each other? Of course, many of you reading this might not have kids. For a variety of reasons, and I applaud you in otherhood. I am so happy for everyone’s life choices, but kids or no kids, I am cheering you on always. There is no question for me that life is win win and so to people without children, allow me to now write in a different way.
I am scared too. I don’t know what to say or think. I am taking cues from things written and videos and on TV. I am looking curious and cautious to what people are saying. I love that Shonda Rhimes tweeted about how school teachers deserve all the money in the world. I am watching national TV at night and seeing late-night hosts do their show from their living rooms, which is wild and interesting. I am looking at The New Yorker cartoons that say “did I really need to drive across town for that meeting?” I am reading articles about how the Venice canals are healing for the first time. These are images and ideas that just need to be seen. I am thinking and wondering if we need to treat Venice like the Galapagos? The earth is healing as we retreat.
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And yet as a business owner myself, I am trying to come up with new language about how ecommerce can still be fulfilled and we can find new ways in which to work and live and consume. I am glued to the news of how every step is being discussed and executed at the government level. I am watching businesses close on Instagram with such heavy hearts. This is why I don’t know what to do on social media. And, yet I believe social media will also be one of our greatest tools to help each other. Take care of each other. Get money and direct attention to needs. Then I am seeing the Jack Kornfields teach meditations and wondering if this is the moment we look within rather than vegetating on phones and in content? I also just want to release the tension and laugh!!!! I am the biggest promoter of comedy, and yet I have the “too soon” feel. When things land a bit, maybe I will know how to be silly again, but for now, in a world that is evolving more every minute, I simply don’t know where to land either.
It’s true that everyone is affected by this. It is the great equalizer. And this is becoming a worldwide reset. The question that burns in my mind is this: If we are forced to live differently, can we be inspired to think differently? Is this where the workout mirror/streaming and Zoom conferencing become the norm? Is this where we recognize what we do and don’t need? Is this where we go back to pioneering a healthier way of life where we might not be travelling so much? I can’t tell you how much I travel for meetings around the world. I would be willing to give that up for a better, cleaner world. What if global travel became more of a luxury? Because for many people it is. But I am sure we have abused the privilege due to how abundant our options are. But then, that starts to be inconsiderate of the entire travel industry, of which I don’t want to dismiss in any way, because I believe it might be impossible to be worldly without seeing the world, right? (I think my endgame in life is to work at a travel magazine…) I am self-taught, and the two ways I’ve learned is by reading and from travel —two things that have made me who I am. So, please don’t get mad at me for posing the question “less of everything.” Less movement. Less stress. We are literally being forced to be quiet right now. Forced inside. We all couldn’t have predicted we would see this in our lifetime. And, yet I can see the future. A future that exists for our kids — whether they’re our own kids or not.
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I’ve always been the kind of person who hates soap boxes. Growing up in an industry like Hollywood, I too felt the sting of why should I listen to privileged people talking about others’ needs? Or why is this person using their platform to take others down? I march in the army of optimism, and I’ve always refused to condescend or speak out negatively. But there have been so many humans who have used their voices around the world and changed it for the better. Maybe it’s the tone? Maybe if it feels inspiring and personal instead of righteous? Is that the secret sauce for humans from anywhere and everywhere daring to speak up? After all, it’s always been humans that have inspired us. Therefore everyone has the potential to be someone who will change the world in big and small ways.
What are other people thinking right now? What inventions and ideas and new ways of doing things are being thought up in the face of this crisis? What will be the outcome? The innovations? If we all make it through this, and I know we will, I almost hope people don’t over indulge in the return to life. Life moving forward should be altered. Wouldn’t it be great to live differently? Think differently? Work differently?

Wouldn’t it be great to live differently? Think differently? Work differently?

I myself have put my shiny tech things down and picked up writing. My partner Nancy, she always told me, no matter what I was going through in life, I should write. Heartbreak? Write. Lost? Write. Need to communicate with someone in a deeper way? Write! How about the way we communicate with ourselves? I was so lost after giving birth the first time. I was bent so out of shape the first few days I thought I would die of fear. I couldn’t sleep or eat and I was becoming incapable of thinking straight. And a package came to my door from a dear friend. It was a journal with small daily spaces to fill. Not overwhelming. And so I started writing to my daughter. I would say in a few sentences what the day brought. I wrote in it every day for three years. I plan to give it to her when she is 18, ten years from now.
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What if we all just started journaling a few sentences of this journey? I always talk about collective experiences. This is a time where everyone is in the same boat. Staying home. Living this wild and terrifying time of struggle in our new normal. Great art and community can come out of the most difficult times. Change comes from times like this. Change in perception and behavior. I invite us all to write a few sentences every day. And we will be able to look back when we are all older and see what this time actually was...is. But that is a small and personal idea. How we take care of each other in this moment obviously comes first. Humanity has never been more sought after and will never be more rewarded, but maybe we’re supposed to take care of everything and have this newfound humility and respect for our surroundings? This is a health crisis that includes everyone, as if to say the entire planet is involved. As if there is a new frontier and, we can’t look back and ignore what is happening nor forget anytime soon that the earth is healing itself, and maybe this is a sign that, not only do we need to save our planet, we need to save ourselves? I think humans thrive the most when we can take care of each other. If there is a way to include ourselves without being selfish, and our planet without being political, just a nurturing and cultivating of our world and our lives that feels empowering and lasting. Humans don’t take things lying down. We are proactive and inventive. I cannot wait to see the good that comes out of this. Yes, I march in the army of optimism, and while we might be marching in place for a while, it’s ok if we fall apart and put ourselves back together. This will be ongoing. And this is what I have for today. I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Maybe this whole thing I have written will seem beyond trivial. I am just writing with my heart and my hope. And maybe I will have even more words to illustrate life to my daughters one day.
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Maybe this is a sign that, not only do we need to save our planet, we need to save ourselves.

By the way, we bought six baby chicks (talk about going back to the old ways). We’re gonna have eggs. I am going to kiss my kids. I’m going to pray for healthcare workers. I’m going to try not to burst into tears as my TV tells me things are getting worse. I am going to help my friend Kate with a way to donate money. I’m gonna look at the baby chickens and marvel at their cuteness. I’m going to do as much as I can today to stay hopeful knowing I am going to fall hard and have to dust myself off again. I am going to be grateful to all of those people who are not overthinking everything they say or do. I am going to feel insecure about sharing this. I’m going to wipe the tears that are streaming down my face right now and then freak out about touching my face. I’m going to lose hope. And then I am going to reread what I wrote and realize that I was optimistic and problem solving when I began to write. Because it’s there. It’s there to look back on. And since no one can travel the world right now, I will hold on to reading and writing. And then maybe a little escape viewing later. Thank God for all the creators who do help us get a little lost right now. Thank God for all those who help us get found, too.
I am finding my words. Wobbly one minute. Full of conviction the next. But I am daring to put this into words. And just for today, I am grateful. The way I hope to be. Grateful for everything I have gotten to do. Grateful for my daughters. Grateful for my laptop. Grateful to know when to turn off my news. Grateful to go and search for bits of wisdom rather than 24-hour doom cycles. I am going to look within and go find that place inside that feels strong. That problem-solves. That believes in the high road. That knows my place in the universe. The place where I believe that something wonderful will come out of this. The world wide reset. it will not be easy. But it’s in motion. And hopefully, in the best way possible, a world that will never be the same. But also hopefully, a world that will be new. That is what a reset is: it takes everything away, and we start over. Stronger and smarter. I will go back to my earlier sentence. I cannot wait to see what comes out of this. And as soon as I can, I will figure out how to get dye, because the girls want to tie-dye. And tonight the world will be full of Zoom chats and quiet moments, too, as we go back into our own private worlds. I will look for that infallible hope I own, and harness it. Maybe even find the words to get back to where I was when I first started writing here.

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