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Everyone Gets to Have Their Thing [Bloggin on the ETC]

Amy Robinson’s wonderful blogumn about her driving anxiety last week got me to thinking about my somewhat recent decision to stop talking on the phone for anything non-work, best friend, or child related.

I’d been low-grade hinting to friends and family that I’d rather receive emails and texts than calls for about two years. At first I blamed the baby, then the toddler for my refusal to have long conversations on the phone or in many cases, even answer it.

But lately, I’ve been telling people the truth: I just don’t like talking on the phone — especially to strangers … or anyone who lives close by … or really anyone but my best friend. I even rush my husband off the phone.

I live in the land of self-improvement and I’ve become an avid disciple. I go to therapy two times a month, I communicate as oppose to argue with my husband, I’m about to start yet another diet and exercise plan on Monday, I shove down my sometimes crippling social anxiety to attend events, and right now I’m reading a book on body language, so that I can make the physicality of my writing even better. My goal is to be a permanent fixer-upper, to keep on improving until I can’t any more because I’m dead.

Except I don’t want to talk on the phone. It’s hard to explain why, but doing so unbalances me. I become anxious and then frustrated with myself for feeling that way. I long for physical social cues that tell me what the other person is thinking. My mind floats to work I should be doing, and I lose concentration. I castigate myself for having such a hard time with a device other people find so easy to navigate.

I actually like other people. A whole lot. I love talking with them IRL and emailing back and forth. I’ve literally thanked God for the invention of Facebook. But even when I want to talk on the phone, even when I call the person myself, I don’t really want to talk on the phone. Often what feels like a 15 minute conversation turns out to have only been two, most of it spent by me trying to figure out how soon it would be socially acceptable to get off the phone.

If you want me to agree to something, call me on the phone. I will say yes just to end the call. The other day, I sent my agent a long email and then when she answered with a phone call, I said “Great … great … that’s okay … yeah, yeah, yeah…. totally … okay … okay … thanks for calling … yes, totally … cool … cool… have fun in London…talk to you soon.” Again, I thought that phone call went on forever. I just checked the log on my iPhone — it was one minute.

But this year I’ve decided to stop fighting my phone fear. Most of my extended family members love, love, love to talk on the phone. I’ve tentatively begun confessing to them that I do not and asking them to text or email or come visit in person instead. And when someone asks me to talk to so-and-so about writing, I tell them that I’ll be happy to answer any questions they might have by email, because I don’t talk on the phone.

As I explained to a wonderful friend who asked why I don’t talk on the phone anymore, I’ve decided that everyone gets to have their thing. You can and should fight your fears and strive for self-improvement, but I now feel that everyone should be allowed to just go’on ahead and submit to one fear or revulsion — even if it’s social unacceptable.

So … what’s your thing?

featured image credit; mrskyce