*Spoiler*… I didn’t.
‘Right, OK, calm down, you just need to make an appointment’. I stare at my phone, heart pumping, mildly hyperventilating as I hit dial. I pull my phone to my ear and all I feel is white noise overcoming my system. I get a jolt of adrenaline when the person on the other end answers and I almost forget why I’m calling and who I am
Phone phobia? Pshh that’s not a thing, right? Well, for me it is. I know being afraid of speaking over the phone is hugely ridiculous, I mean I’m not going to die from it. Nor am I going to be physically harmed (unless I self inflict a heart attack from terror). However, I know others share this feeling. Being anxious about speaking to a stranger over the phone is relatively common, particularly for my generation.
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I’ve never really known why I am this way, but I can have a guess. It started when I was a kid, there wasn’t an exact cause for my fear, but I suspect it was just lack of exposure to actually using them.
As a kid, I was always told not to answer the phone, to only let Mum and Dad pick it up. When I was old enough to stay home alone, my parents would have a secret code so that I knew it was them calling (three rings, hang up, followed by an immediate second call). This was just signal that it was safe to answer. I was to never pick up a call that wasn’t from them. I think it’s because they didn’t want a stranger to know that an adult wasn’t home.
I remember this one time, when I was around 9 years old. I was in the living room either watching cartoons or playing video games when the phone rang.
My head snapped in the direction of the ringing phone and I felt silence fall over the room. It wasn’t the secret coded ring, so I knew it wasn’t my parents. I crept up to the phone and just stared at it, breathing slowly but heavily. *Ring ring*. Each sound sent waves of adrenaline through my body. When the ringing finally stopped, it was quiet… too quiet. I crept back to my seat in the living room and just sat there for a while listening, almost as you would if you were listening out for an intruder in the house. That’s how I felt,…that my safe, private space was violated.
You must be laughing or thinking what the hell right now. I know, it’s beyond stupid. But it is what it is.
So did I get over this fear as an adult? YES and no.
I am no longer petrified by the prospect of a calling or receiving a call. I still don’t like it, but at least it doesn’t make me feel like I’m dying.
So how did I get over it?
Exposure. Plus getting the f**k over myself (otherwise known as hardening up).
When I graduated from university, I needed a job. Well, I needed money and a job was my safest bet to acquire said money (but, I’m still holding out for the lottery :P). I took a gap year between my bachelors and masters, so I wanted to make some money in this time
But looking for jobs come with the dreaded call from the job agent to see your suitability. And when you feel about phones the way I did (and to an extent, still do), you can guess that I was soooooooooo bad. I couldn’t answer very basic questions because I was so panicked.
I eventually found a temporary role as an HR assistant. And this job involved a lot of phone usage; calls to candidates, referees as well as receiving calls. Each time I had to make a call, that same fear I had as I child would resurface.
After working there for several months, my fear of ringing phones dampened.
Today, I still do not like speaking on the phone. Receiving a call isn’t as bad because I’m being blind-sighted and did not have time to build up anxiety over the call. Whereas, when I know I need to make a call, my brain has time turn against me and freak me out. Though, I am happy that I can now cope with making a call :).
Tell me, do you have any fears?