What is your greatest fear? Maybe losing a loved one, dying in some awful way, or finding yourself naked in a classroom on exam day? Everyone has their own personal fears, for example I am afraid of bees and also seaweed (don’t ask!).
But my greatest fear of all time, and general scourge of my existence? Telephones.
I’m not sure what caused such a debilitating fear. Maybe it was the fact that we had an answering machine that was always left on when I was growing up. Friends and relatives would call, get the answering machine, and leave a message that went something like this:
“Hello, only me . . . is anyone there? . . . Hello? . . . You must be out, ok, I was just ringing to say . . .”
. . . and then my mother would get to the phone from wherever she’d been and pick up.
The point is, we always knew who was calling us. Nothing unexpected ever came from our phone. Maybe this is the root of all my troubles, there’s no real way to know.
Nowadays, answering a phone call results in a chain of thoughts something like this:
Who could that be? I wasn’t expecting a call. What if it’s something bad? What if it’s a client who isn’t supposed to have this number but they’ve tracked me down. What if it’s someone I know but they don’t recognise my voice when I say hello and ask “Is Michelle there?” and it’s really embarrassing? What if they just say hi and start talking and I can’t figure out who they are but actually it’s a close friend and they get offended? Best just ignore it until they hang up.
Making a phone call myself is ten times worse. Don’t even get me started on that.
I’m writing about my greatest fear because, as you can appreciate, it limits job opportunities somewhat. As a teenager and in my early twenties, without any meaningful qualifications, the only job openings available were mostly in administration and call centres. The two most phone-heavy jobs in the world.
For a long time, friends advised me to “just face your fear” to “get over it”. They were right in that getting rid of this fear would make my life a lot easier, so I decided to give it a try.
In my next post, we’ll see how that went.