Thursday, November 09, 2006


Ever find your own long-standing weaknesses and eccentricities excruciating? For example, I would pretty much rather die than to call someone on the telephone. Public speaking, no problem. Travel around the world, no sweat. But I'm afraid to make phone calls and sometimes it really messes up my life.

A good friend of mine lives about a mile away, and I work with her husband, but since she left our office several months ago I have not communicated with her directly even once. A few weeks after she began her new job I called her cell phone to ask how she was doing but I only got voice mail. Several weeks after that I got an email from her which began with words, “I’m sorry! I’m terrible about returning calls. Quite phobic and ridiculous, actually…” I could have typed those words. It took me another week or two to answer her email simply because I was thinking I ought to just call her instead of writing, and didn’t.
I wonder what will happen next.

Of course it also affects my work. The prayer guide I’m editing now could have been done so much faster and better if I could have made phone calls instead of sending emails and fretting when they did not get the desired results. Just a few minutes ago I figured out that the little picture on my cell phone did not mean, as I had thought, that I had a text message. I knew about the text message: it’s for the girl who used to have the number I have now. And I had not erased it because I’m sure there must be a way to actually reply to it, which seemed the polite thing to do. The little word ‘reply’ sits at the bottom of the screen but how do I get there? For the life of me I can’t figure it out.

No, the picture meant I had a voicemail, and it came two days ago. It was from Chris, the main guy I need to reach about the prayer guide. He was sorry not to call sooner. I had left two messages. Both calls resulted from hard-earned mental victory that took a day, each, to achieve. I mean, it took a whole day to work myself up to making one phone call! Twice!

Figuring out my cell phone is not a big deal; a tad embarassing but not really beyond my ken. I just need to find the book that came with the phone, or ask someone else for help. I’m fairly sharp with technology, generally. But making phone calls, that's what intimidates me. Whatever am I going to do to break free of this cloak of fear that covers me every time I know I should make a call? To what extent is it OK to be realistic about my weakness, let myself off the hook so to speak, and avoid situations where I'm agreeing to make phone calls? Surely that is part of the answer. But I may need a more effective system of accountability to make me take action when making a call is the right thing to do.

No comments: