Together Alone: Valerie, İstanbul

What do you do for a living? What kind of changes did you experience during this period about your work?

I am a beauty editor, have been almost for the past 10 years. I had recently left my post at Vogue Turkey to depart on exciting beauty ventures when the quasi-apocalyptic pandemic hit the world. Although I was a bit nervous about my job situation on the first 2 days of my self-quarantine, on the 3rd day, I was like “F*** this, I’m going to keep doing what I love doing and hope this interests a few people.” So that’s how I started doing the live “Beauty in Isolation” sessions; it was a rash, midnight decision. When I was a beauty director, I did do a bit of video content, but I was doing way more articles, shoots, still life creative direction, etc. I’m constantly looking for fresh ways to adapt good editorship to Beauty in Isolation, and since I have ZERO pressure and absolute freedom, it’s been a surprisingly enjoyable journey for me.

How much time were you spending commuting? Can you use that time efficiently?

I used to attend so many meetings for so many brands in the pre-Rona world, so yes, I’ve definitely got way more time in my hands now. I remember doing 4-5 meetings in one day. That’s a lot for Istanbul. That’s the equivalent of 10 meetings in a less chaotic city. Nowadays I attend meetings digitally and secretly hope most of them will stay that way when this ends. Apart from Beauty in Isolation, I have 2 other beauty-related projects that excite me immensely. Hopefully, I’ll get to share them with you soon.

Did you start new projects/hobbies?

I’m not a big at-home hobby person – of course, I’m excluding cooking, that’s not a hobby, for me that’s life and #selfcare intertwined – but I have been working out way more than before. I now seem to have weird muscular Michelle-Obama-gone-wrong arms, yet I’m somehow still gaining weight with all the food. So that’s what happens when two non-hobbies clash epically in one body.

When was the last time you met someone in person? And who was that person? (Including the delivery guy, pharmacist, etc.) Do you meet your friends? Do video-chat apps/programs (if you use any) meet your needs for socializing?

The last person I saw was the water delivery guy. That rang the bell for the wrong apartment.

I have always been someone who loves staying in touch with friends digitally, perhaps because many of them are not in Istanbul. But obviously, this became the only way of socializing during quarantine and I’ve adapted seamlessly. I don’t physically socialize with friends who are also quarantining and are healthy because I think that’s the whole point of self-isolation. Once I’d start doing that, I would end up seeing more and more healthy friends. I miss them. It would be hard to stop myself.

So instead, I use House Party, Facetime, Zoom, Instagram, Whatsapp… I think the whole experience changed for me when I got drunk with friends on Facetime one night and I’ve come to peace with socializing digitally. Is it slightly weird? Yes. Do I have any other choice? Nope. But the weirdest will be my birthday, as I’m turning 31 next Friday. First time in my life a birthday will be spent in complete and utter isolation. I’ve recently come to peace with the fact that I’m definitely a big party person, yet somehow, this year I feel like I’m going to be completely fine (and even happy!) just video chatting with my friends and family. I’m adapting faster to this than I thought I would.

Would you prefer not to be alone during this period? Or are you happy being alone?

I’ve always been someone who enjoys solitude. I remember as a child begging for my parents to leave me alone at home when they went to dinner. It felt like a really adult thing to do at the time, staying at home, by myself. And I guess I wasn’t so wrong, because being at peace with this much solitude takes a lot of inner work, at least for me. It’s not easy to learn how to enjoy your own company for such an elongated period of time. And at times, I really do. Is this my preferred way of quarantining? No clue. It’s the first time I’m doing it.

Do you have any recommendations for others who are alone during the quarantine period?

For me, it’s important to stick to a routine, but it’s always more important to feel calm and happy. Prepare a VERY flexible routine for yourself. That’s what I’ve done for myself. There are things I try to do every day, but I know that if I don’t feel like doing that one thing on that specific day, I just postpone it. And never judge myself, which is something I used to do SO much before. Things have been falling together rather smoothly when I started living the quarantine (and for now, life itself) this way. There is always a method in my madness. And I’ve started loving it.

All interviews within Together Alone are on the project page.