If you're anything like me who gets that suffocating feeling in your chest when you get an incoming call, you may be a victim of phone anxiety.
Making and answering phone calls may seem like a piece of cake to a lot of people. It saves the trouble of messaging back and forth and you can receive an answer from the other person right away. But for those of us who have phone anxiety, picking up the phone and hearing a human voice (plus the sound of their breathing) coming from the other end of the line is simply terrifying. Is the matter that urgent that you couldn’t just send a WhatsApp?
How does it feel to have phone anxiety?
As the type of person who will go to great lengths to avoid group hangouts and parties, someone calling me on the phone is the last thing I need. Let’s keep unnecessary human contact to a bare minimum, shall we? Whenever I catch my cell ringing, my heart races and my fight or flight response gets activated.
Are they trying to confront me with my failures? Are they going to seek my immediate response in which I’m sure is less than perfect? Can they tell how insecure I am from my shaking voice? In real life, you can mask your irrational (but inevitable) fear with a grin on your face, indecisiveness can be masqueraded as pure thoughtfulness; during a phone call, you can’t pull off that trick, you just can’t hide. You’re stripped bare; you’re a naked soul.
I hate my phone anxiety but I can’t get rid of it
Yes, I’m a coward when it comes to digital communication. It takes me hours (in worst case scenario, months) to message a friend back; a phone call is overwhelming for sure. I’ve had situations where a random number hit me up five times in one week and I didn’t pick up once because I was too frightened. It turned out that person wanted to discuss something semi work-related, so I messaged him back later that day and it was about, well, nothing.
If he could’ve just texted me from the beginning, the whole thing could’ve been sorted out a week ago. But he just had to call relentlessly. He just had to. Years ago, one of my old crushes called me on the phone, I literally dropped my phone on the floor, yet I still didn’t answer it. Eventually, a friend of mine dialled my number every day thirty days in a row just to irritate me – ha. Apparently, what I do (or can’t do) is quite obnoxious, I don’t disagree but I just can’t help it. Here I apologise to all the people that I’ve ignored and will ignore.
Is it something that I can overcome?
One of my closest colleagues, whom I respect and regard as a confident caller, thinks that it’s absurd to overthink everything. She describes the act of answering phone calls as ripping off a bandaid, and dodging them simply worsens the situation. I couldn’t wrap my head around her logic, and vice versa. For now, I can’t see myself overcoming my phone anxiety. It isn’t the fault of advanced technology or messaging apps, but more so the fact that I’m not ready to acknowledge my incapability of making a sound judgment call within the short period of response time that I’m given with. Leave me a message or send me a text, I’ll make contact with you, via text.