A little story about phone phobia

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Jan 14, 2016, 7:06:37 AM via Website

Before I start my story, there is a thing or two you should know about phone phobia - it is usually considered to be something only those with social anxiety disorder deal with on a daily basis, but the truth is it can be you or me. So if you have it, it is okay and you are not alone. Admitting the problem is an essential yet hardest step to start fighting a long hard battle.
To those who are not sure about what phone phobia is like, here’s some guidance about 10 symptoms of phone phobia.

Let’s take a look and tick some boxes:
Before and after calls do you...
□ Feel extremely anxious when making or receiving calls?
□ Delay making phone calls due to anxiety?
□ Worry about bothering the other person?
□ Worry about what you will say?
□ Worry about embarrassing yourself?
□ Avoid making calls or have others call for you?
□ Obsess what was said after calls?
When on the phone do you...
□ Feel your heart race and can’t stop shaking?
□ Have trouble concentrating?
□ Feel nauseous?

If you answer "yes" to any of these, your phone fear may indeed be a phobia, and the more yeses you have, the more serious your anxiety is.

As I have mentioned, overcoming phone phobia is by no means not an easy thing to do, I know it because I used to hate phones too. If I could, I would send letters and emails to deal with work, try everything I can to avoid making phone calls but still phone calls were inevitable because of my profession - I was then a businessman dealing with online international business between Kobe and New Jersey.

When a delivery or order is delayed and it is time to confirm a wronged payment, you cannot count on emails or letter to solve the problem and certainly you cannot reject a client’s call if you still want to keep the job and make ends meet, especially when it’s a job you enjoyed doing. For months, I struggled with conflicts that would have been easier if I’d just used the phone and it made my anxiety even worse. In order to break this vicious cycle, I knew that it was time that I took phone phobia seriously and did something about my fear for phone calls.

As a matter of fact, I wasn’t brave enough to deal with my phobia by myself until my Japanese client Sayako Murakami encouraged and promised to help me with it. We had been in touch for over half a year and not a single phone call was made between us, mostly my bad, well, my bad. As she insisted, I told her about my phobia about phone in an email and here was her reply: “You can’t get better at doing something unless you’re doing it, and you also can’t get comfortable doing something if you only put yourself in highly uncomfortable situations.”

She made a plan that if I could keep talking on the phone everyday for a month, things would be better and even volunteered to call me on Hicall every morning so I could say something about my life at the end of the day for 3 minutes, regardless of the 12-hour time difference.

It was awkward at first because we had never really talked besides corresponding but she was very patient. The first day was a failure, I hung up almost immediately when the time was up. She was a good listener, very patient with me and I got a lot better by the tenth call. Almost everyday, I thought about calling her, not just to share my day for phone phobia’s sake, but for her sweet gentle voice, and

maybe she would like to tell me something about herself in return.

Because of Sayako, I started looking forward to hearing ringtone, hoping to see that familiar number of hers. Her voice on the other end of the phone was clear, I still couldn’t help thinking about that one day we could meet in person and I wanna tell her how much I appreciate her help face to face.

Soon it was the last day of our 30-day agreement, but I hadn’t heard a thing from Sayako all day. She was always punctual and even she wasn’t available, she would have sent me an email first and rearrange the time. I decided to wait.

As a result, I stayed up the entire night tossing in bed, not having a clue about what to do next. Suddenly, when the sun came out again, it occurred to me: Wait, I know her number. Why don’t I take initiative and call her back? I could do that, couldn’t I? The app worked right out of the box and my first 3-minute was free. Three minutes,exactly what I need. The number was already carved in my head yet I double-checked before making the call.

“... ...” Time seemed exceptionally slow when my shaky fingers were dialing her number and 5 seconds later, I heard the voice I had been dreaming about all night.

“Good morning, Sayako Murakami speaking.” She answered gently .

“...H...Hi, Sayako. This is Daniel. Good morning, I mean, good evening to you.” I mumbled, though you have no idea how joyful I was to hear her voice.
“Daniel, I know who you are, I call you every night you know remember.” She giggled, “I’m so happy for you! Your first call in a while! How do you feel?” She shouted with cheer.

“Yeah, I am happy for me too.” Seriously? ”Anyway, you didn’t call last night, so I’m calling to see if everything is fine with you.”

“I’m good, Daniel, I have never been better,” Sayako raised her voice a little bit, “I’m on a business trip right now and the plane had just landed in Philadelphia 3 hours ago. When business is done, I’m planning to stay for the weekend before heading back Japan. Do you think you could be my guide for the weekend and meet up at the train station, 10:00 AM this Saturday?”

“Yes, yes, absolutely.” I almost shouted.

“Good, I’ll see you then.”

“Great, bye.” And my credit ran out just in time.

The weekend was lovely and we kept in touch after that, yes, kept in touch via Hicall and phone phobia was no longer a big issue for me.

“You can’t get better at doing something unless you’re doing it, and you also can’t get comfortable doing something if you only put yourself in highly uncomfortable situations.” Sayako's words give me strength whenever I feel like panicking over a ringing phone and now, I guess I’m alright.

Thank you, phone phobia!


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