The Sunday Natter: I’m a phone-a-phobic… get me out of here!

*reusing a photo because this beautiful little vintage phone is about the only phone I can tolerate

Fears are present in everyday life, they range from mild to extreme and usually, they’re considered pretty normal of the human kind. Nobody questions why someone is huddled in a corner, ghastly faced and scared stiff of the spider that’s just approached them so why is my fear of phones looked upon as being ridiculous? I’ve always hated talking on the telephone and the reasons why travel further than the shore. I hate the awkwardness, I hate the way I lose all confidence, the way my belly does flutters when I have no choice but to call the number given for an important event and the replay of the conversation after I hang up, paranoia of how stupid my shaky, cracked voice may have sounded going round and round in my head. 

It’s funny, really, as I wouldn’t class myself as a highly reserved person. I have my communication issues when around an uncomfortable social situation but I don’t quite hit the shy mark. I’m absolutely fine speaking to someone in person but anxiety strikes at even just the mention of a phone call. Using the phone is classed as a challenge for me, it’s like the number printed on that page or embedded into my contact list is a curse; that familiar dread bubbles within me and I immediately switch to a suspended state. It’s as though my mind can only point out the negativity. The mental rehearsing begins, the delaying of the dialing takes force, the panic hits, hard,  and I begin to jump to the many flickering conclusions on what may go wrong during conversation. Building up the courage takes great strength and effort so when it doesn’t flow as swiftly as the unrealistic and unpredictable chat I had planned, it further develops my phobia. Like a vicious cycle really.

Automatically avoiding phone calls as much as possible is my number one talent. If there’s an email provided, you’ll bet I choose that over a quick phone call which could solve the problem in half the time waiting upon a delayed network response. I’ll constantly find excuses not to go near this simple inconvenience. If I’m ushered to just make that call, I’ll shrug off the importance of my question. If someone asks for my number regarding any contact we may need to transmit, I’ll hesitate until it becomes necessary and then worry about their upcoming phone call from then onward. If an unfamiliar number appears, I’ll stare at the phone until it stops ringing. Even answering the phone to family and friends proves to be difficult. I certainly have more ability to speak to a person I’m accustomed to but I have to make sure I’m in the right zone before I go ahead and press the green button.

Luckily, I have a very supportive mum who does all the hard work for me but there gets to a point where I can’t rely on her to do the phone duties and it’s going to be something I need and have to learn do for the future. In this world of immediate communication we live in, being a phone-a-phobic impairs on daily life; it stops the instant contacting on and off switch, prevents some (what could be important) opportunities coming your way and worst of all, it can be implied as rudeness and ignorance which you don’t want to be perceived as because it’s far from the truth.

Although it’s my job to face up to and deal with this loathing anxiety, I feel as though the people around me could also be a little more respectful and sensitive to the matter. It takes a lot for me to admit my phone phobia to an individual so I’m set back when their voiced answer doesn’t represent any type of seriousness. Telling me I’m an adult now and advising me to grow up and “just get on with it” doesn’t make me feel any better nor allow me to move forward. If a person breaks their foot, they’ll be dismissed from any intense physical activity but if someone advises you of their fear of phones, no action is taken and they still continue to dial out your number. Deep down, I know it’s made more dramatic by my insecurities and actually, there’s nothing to be nervous, uneasy or scared of but unfortunately, I can’t control the way my mind works. It’s going to take time to overcome it, in some ways I’ve already jumped over hurdles and made progress over the years. I don’t ask for the general public and confident phone goers to fully understand us phone haters, just to show some empathy to this form of sideline anxiety that creeps up on occasion. To anyone who else who suffers the same thing, I feel your pain.

I often feel as though I’m the only one with phone struggles but I hope other people can relate to this and prove to me, this is a common fear. 

Bridie x