I have increased my assertiveness and self-esteem thanks to COVID-19
What in principle was just distant news, which according to experts would never reach beyond the small contagion of a few and would be totally controllable, was not like that at all —and little by little in Spain and the rest of the world we saw how what was only going to be a passing news in the headlines, begin to be a real health emergency with a risk to the public health system that locked us all in our homes to avoid contagion. Almost a year has passed, and we continue to live the same surreal story.
My head during this last year has never abandoned the possibility of being infected by the damn COVID-19, with the difficulty managing the responsibility of being able to infect your loved ones (in my case my parents, especially sensitive and at risk due to numerous illnesses). My life was always simple and relaxed -I was not trained to manage a pandemic. The constant feeling of lurking risks, fears and anxieties that at first required medication with anxiolytics to be able to face them.
Little by little, I realized how important it was for me to have a crisis manual set up or a protocol to prevent risks at this stage. I took up routines that favored my tranquility, and I identified what was the most difficult for me and worked on it.
One of the items I worked on was assertiveness: learning to say no to everyone who questioned my decisions about not attending social gatherings or those who called me excessive. I increased my self-esteem by being consistent with my values despite the different views of my social circle, and I also worked on feeling shame of being judged, especially on those days when I went to work or to the hospital with a face shield and a double protection mask, sensing the looks of the people around me.
A year later, I still have the same fear of contagion because all this is unbearable now. I continue to work in face-to-face customer service, I still get anxious about going to the supermarket, and I do not feel comfortable having tea sitting at a public terrace. However, I feel that I have evolved as a person, as I do not require any anxiolytics except on exceptional occasions, and I feel more authentic, courageous, free, and consistent with my own values.