GENERATION X FACTOR: Venting about living the ‘Covid Life’

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By Starlett Quarles

Contributing Columnist

Rarely, if ever, do I use this column to vent. But since I feel like I’m not the only one tired of living the “COVID life,” I thought I’d take this time to express what many of us may be feeling.

In short, I’m so tired of COVID. This pandemic has really “worked my last nerves.”

Who would have thought back in January 2020 that we would still be dealing with COVID in 2022? I mean it’s been frustrating, exhausting and honesty downright depressing some days.

And despite our history of dodging conversations around mental illness in the Black community, I know that I’m not the only one who has experienced some moments of depression throughout these past two years.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “rates of anxiety and depression among U.S. adults were about four times higher between April 2020 and August 2021 than they were in 2019, [with] some of the sharpest increases being reported among males, Asian Americans, young adults and parents with children in the home.”

Now, I don’t have any children, but I can only imagine what it’s like being quarantined with your kids or having to help home school them on a daily basis. I’d feel depressed and overwhelmed, too. I mean I just have a small dog that I admittedly need to drop off at day care sometimes to get a break.

But when it comes to this “COVID Life” that we’re all forced to now live, I’m just tired and burnout. Aren’t you?

I know it’s going to take a concerted effort amongst the vaccinated and the unvaccinated to help shepherd us back to some sense of mask-less normalcy, but in the interim, aren’t you tired of the daily news coverage and updates on vaccine rates, anti-vaccine celebrities and COVID tests, hospitalizations and death statistics?

And these masks. Now it’s cloth vs. medical vs. N95 vs. KN95. Wait, what? Which one now? It’s all so confusing and our leadership hasn’t helped with our growing feelings of confusion and lack of trust.

But regardless of the type of mask, I’m just so tired of having to wear one. Do you know how many times I’ve had to return to my car because I forgot to put a mask on before entering a store? And just as fed up as I am of having to wear one, I’m also no fan of seeing them lying around everywhere, either.

Aren’t you tired of seeing used, dirty face masks and medical gloves on the ground and in public spaces just effortlessly contributing to our littering and pollution problem? It’s gotten so bad that this act of public selfishness has basically become a public health hazard.

Mark Benfield, a professor at Louisiana State University who focuses on microplastic pollutions told CNN, “Gloves, masks and wipes are all plastic. When they get discarded into the environment, they go into [our] sewer systems or water bodies. They break down into microplastics, which still attract pesticides and other harmful chemicals. So, when the marine animals eat them, they don’t just get the plastic, they get the chemicals, too.”

Let me ask you: do you want to eat fish with chemicals and COVID personal protective equipment microplastics in it? And for those who choose to drop their used masks and gloves on the ground or out their car windows, I simply don’t understand why your germ-ridden equipment can’t just make it into the trash can.

Lastly, I’m tired of the politicization of this pandemic and the inevitable divisiveness it’s created amongst the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. It’s like living the life as a Hatfield or a McCoy or a Jet or a Shark in “West Side Story.” It’s only a matter of time before we start walking up to folks asking, “What set are you from: ‘The V’s’ or ‘The Un-V’s?’”

It seems like a day doesn’t go by that we hear about some violent act being committed against an innocent employee asking for a vaccination card, or some politician falling victim to “cancel culture” for being caught on camera attending a social event without wearing a mask.

“Across the country, anti-vaccine and anti-mask demonstrations are taking scary and violent turns,” the U.S. News and World reports. “Educators, medical professionals and public figures have been stunned at the level at which they have been vilified for even stating their opinion.” Some have even been “terrified over how far protesters will go [to confront] leaders outside their homes and in their workplaces.”

What is this world coming to? How have we allowed this pandemic to rise to a level of dissention and hate that someone can be accosted, harassed, threatened or even killed simply for choosing to wear a mask or not?

I can really go on and on about how mentally exhausted I am of living this “COVID Life” from the conspiracy theories to our feelings of social paranoia and disconnectedness. But alas, we all know that complaining rarely makes anything better.

And the truth of the matter is that no matter how tired I am of this pandemic or having to wear a mask everywhere, I feel very blessed and thankful to even be here to live through it. So, I’ll stop venting now and take a much-needed “woosah.”

Because as a wise person once said, “happiness comes when you stop complaining about your problems and start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.”

Starlett Quarles is a Gen X Advocate, public speaker and host of the internet TV Talk Show, “The Dialogue with Starlett Quarles.” For more, please visit www.TheDialogueLA.com.

 

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