We’ve all felt it. That ridiculous notion that our anxiety has no place in the “real world” and we don’t have a right to feel that way.
And then you’re sitting at your desk, and the phone rings.
Who is calling? A client? Someone who is going to complain to me about something? Ask me a question I don’t know the answer to? Am I going to even answer this questions correctly? Am I going to even answer this phone even though it’s my job?
This is what I refer to as “mundane anxiety” and it is the core of my being and the core of what prompts me to write this. I absolutely, unequivocally despite answering the phone. If my own cell phone rings, I don’t answer. Whoever it is can text me if it’s that important. But it is literally my job to answer the phone at my work so I do it. But each time, I cringe.
Where does that fear stem from? Did I have some horrible phone experience that scarred me for life? Did someone once nearly beat me to death with a phone? No. Nothing like that. This is anxiety, and there is just no answer to the “why” sometimes.
So I do what I need to do. I pick up at the second ring, because I spend the first debating using the “I didn’t answer because I was in the bathroom” excuse. But that first ring I also prepare myself. I put a smile on my face, I pull up the general information I usually need to answer a call, and I pick up the phone.
Mundane anxiety doesn’t mean I will freeze and have a panic attack. It means I have that sudden, mild moment where I run through every bad scenario in my head before I even have the chance to move towards the receiver. Not every form of anxiety is outward: no one around me can tell I don’t want to answer the phone, or that it makes me uncomfortable. If I constantly showed any of that, I would surely be writing my resume instead of this post right now.
It’s perfectly okay to sit with these feelings of fear and to be uncomfortable - it’s okay to give yourself permission to feel those feelings. You aren’t doing anyone a disservice by having feelings.
Finding small ways to face your fears is how I get over this hurtle. I smile before I pick up. I have the information needed in front of my face. I have a pen nearby to jot down notes or write down what this person called about so I can call them back, or write down their e-mail address. All of this helps to alleviate the panic that courses through me every single time the phone rings.
And then I pick up.
And it’s a recorded telemarketer.