Secret Phone Anxiety

"I'll call you..."

You wouldn’t know this to look at me, or even talking to me on the phone, but I have a secret.  I am actually terrified of  the telephone.  The phone rings, my anxiety levels rise, my palms start to sweat, my breathing gets out of rhythm, it’s a mess.  And if I ever have to make a phone call, especially one to a particularly scary destination, like the insurance company or a doctor’s office or my in-laws, forget about it!  Heart palpitations, hyperventilation, the works!

I don’t know why this is or when it started.  In high school, I know, I used to get nervous when about to make a phone call.  But that was usually to a girl, and usually one I had a crush on, so I figured it was just hormones.  And it seems like 9 times out of 10, her dad would answer, so I figured that was just self-preservation kicking in (a lot of girls’ dads didn’t like me calling their daughters; I don’t know why; I had the most noble of intentions, but I guess that nobility did not convey through the yearning glances they perceived).

To counterbalance this nervousness, I used to write notes, like a little script for the conversation.  I literally did this, and it helped if I got flustered.  But I never stopped feeling nervous.

And it’s not like I ever had any particularly traumatizing telephone experiences either.  No one ever broke up with me over the phone.  Never had any scary, heavy-breathing calls while babysitting.  I just don’t like it.

I know what some of you are thinking: “I’ve talked to him on the phone, and he seems fine.”  Well “seems” is the operative term.  You didn’t see the breathing into a brown paper bag, the pep talk in the mirror, the slapping myself in the face saying “come on, man, you can DO this!” leading up to my breezy-seeming “Hello?”

Others of you might be thinking “doesn’t he have to make important phone calls all the time for work and such?”  Yes, yes he does.  And it scares the crap out of him every time.  He has to get pumped before making any such call.  And he has been known to exclaim an audible “Yes!” and make a corresponding fist-raised-in-exultation gesture when reaching voicemail.

I hate the phone!  It scares me, and I don’t like it!!!  It feels good to have that off my chest.

Anyone else have any secret anxieties?  Confessions?  Tips for getting over my telephonophobia?  Anyone else feel the same?

8 thoughts on “Secret Phone Anxiety

  1. I have had similar experiences with phone anxiety. More so in the past and especially if I was calling a guy I was interested. What surprises me is that you aren’t more into texting. This makes some of those phone calls much less stressful, but I guess it could be considered sort of a cop-out too. And obviously, texting isn’t probably appropriate for business. I have some fears and anxieties which include: sharks, clogged toilets, flying, the ocean, heights….just to name a few.

    • I text some. I don’t love it because I have a “dumb phone” so it is painstaking, and I don’t really have anyone to text. Those I do text I would be fine talking to on the phone. It is mostly like other business people or offices I don’t like to call. The worst job I ever had was working for a call center seeking donations during college. It’s a long story, but basically it was a horrible time in the economy and we were cold-calling people out of the phone book. MISERABLE!!! I am actually really good on the phone, professionally. I worked for another call center and was one of their top performers. It turns out I am very good at a lot of things I really don’t like. What I need to do is either figure out how to like what I am good at or get someone to like me doing what I like to do.

      Sharks get a bum rap. They are less of a threat than bees and car wrecks and just about anything else. Basically they are just fish, a little bit bigger than most, with slightly sharper teeth. Plus, I have it on good authority they are particularly non-threatening in landlocked areas of Washington state. I hope you aren’t losing any sleep over these.

      I had an encounter with a clogged toilet over Christmas break, and it was horrific. You are perfectly justified here.

      Flying is safer than bees and sharks.

      The ocean is mysterious, and there are a lot of things that can hurt you. Still, you should give it a try.

      I used to be afraid of heights, but I just decided to get over it. You should try cliff/bridge jumping; that’s what did it for me.

      • Oh, I have tried the ocean. I made it to Hawaii once and conquered my fears by doing some snorkeling. I will admit, it was pretty cool and beautiful. Still, in the back of my mind, I knew that shark could come tear my leg off at any moment.

        I have also jumped off a bridge and some smallish cliffs before. I still don’t love it, but I CAN do it, if under the right amount of peer pressure, but it still scares me.

        I wish I could say the same for myself about being really good at the things I don’t like doing. That’s pretty cool to me. Maybe the more we do something we are scared of, the easier it will get?

  2. I have telephonophobia as well. I seriously thought I was the only adult in the whole world that suffers from this. Glad to hear otherwise. Well, glad for me, not glad for you.

    Texting has made my life so much easier. However, I think it is just allowing me to avoid dealing with my phobia. Probably not a good thing.

    • I am okay with my telephone problem. I mock myself. Gently. I’m glad you’re not alone, even if it is at my expense.

      Texting is better. Less personal, but also less stressful.

      I don’t know if all phobias are meant to be faced.

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