One Missed Call. Er … Many Missed Calls

Okay, I haven’t actually seen 2008’s One Missed Call, but it fits well with this title. And I already know that I sound like a typical Millennial, saying, “Why can’t you just text or email?” But seriously, why can’t you just text or email?  I have a sister and a friend who still primarily like to call, and I’m like, ew, stop that. Even aside from what I’m about to talk about, the telephone is not efficient (contrary to what people think) because now you’ve tied me up. I can’t do anything else, whereas I can continue doing any number of things while responding to your text. Plus, who wants to deal with awkward goodbyes?

I don’t know about you all, but I dread the telephone. And I’m not exactly in a profession that lends itself to dreading the telephone — being a journalist — where you frequently have to talk on the phone.

Honestly, I don’t know what it is. I have an abject fear of public speaking and in some cases, even a nervousness and anxiousness around regular interaction with people. Perhaps the phone issue is an extension of that. I have a fear that I won’t be able to understand them or they won’t be able to understand me, plus the general talking element. When I do get on the phone with someone (unless it’s family, obviously), I get profusely sweaty and anxious.

I’ve sometimes wondered if I have a social anxiety disorder, and I know it’s not good to try to self-diagnose in that way. But still, I wonder.

When doing this in a journalism capacity, I’m able to overcome this once I get rolling on the phone because my thing has always been, I care more about getting the answer than letting my anxiety overtake me. I’ll still sweat, to be sure, but I don’t get as nervous.

But the problem I have is getting to the point of making the phone call or returning the phone call. The “meme” in the office is the backlog of voicemails I have and people trying to contact me. And inevitability, when I do call people back, I have to preface with an apology about taking forever to follow-up with them. So with that anxiety comes the guilt of being well, me, and taking forever to respond to them.

Case-in-point, a woman called me on July 23 about a story I had already done two prior stories on, but this would be a fitting “conclusion” to that story. So of course I wanted to do it, and I wanted to follow up with her. I told myself I would call her the next day. Then the next day …

And then I went and found the voicemail message, intending to call her back today, and realized it was from July 23. I was thinking she had called me last week. Gah.

I don’t know why I’m like this. I don’t know why I can’t just call people back in a timely fashion or call people in general without feeling so much anxiety about the build-up to the call. Again, fortunately, with journalism, the impetus to get the answer for the story and meet a deadline helps overcome this anxiety at certain moments, but when I’m able to procrastinate? Look out.

That said, I can’t express to you adequately how triumphant I feel after doing the thing. A few minutes ago, I finally called the aforementioned woman back (part of the anxiety is cold calling them), interviewed her, and now I have a story for tomorrow’s deadline. After I hung up with her, I feel like this:

Jim

I think it’s because I’ve overcome, momentarily, that anxiety and got what I needed done. And it also doesn’t happen that often because there’s 10 other phone calls I’m procrastinating on (I’m mildly exaggerating, but not by much).

What is your anxiety, if any?

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