Tuesday, October 21, 2014

the curse of the telephone {frocktober, day 20}

Dress (remixed 1, 2): Ruche, Sweater (remixed): LOFT

Earlier this week I read this article about having a serious phone phobia and I was literally grinning like a fool because I'm not alone in the world. Granted, I already knew that, because this whole strange phobia/disease is fairly rampant in my immediate family. We're pretty terrible at communicating. We always joke that we're on a "need to know basis" and, apparently, nobody needs to know. 
I'm not sure where my telephonitis stems from or when it started, but I'm fairly certain it's a parasitic fear virus that only gets worse as time goes on.
I have memories of talking on my super awesome land-line phone (which was purple and glittery and from Limited Too) as a kid with a few close friends, sometimes for quite a long time. When we got wireless home phones I remember walking round and round the kitchen island, avoiding the cracks in the tile, in a strange rhythmic nervous tick of conversational movement.
Then I remember, in 8th grade, talking to boys on the phone and feeling as if I was having an out-of-body experience. I would sweat, and babble, and say all kinds of absurd things and hang up feeling exhausted and completely baffled by my behavior. Even then I recognized it as a kind of teenage angst, but now I wonder if it was just the early stages of phone aversion. 

I count myself blessed that I was able to pretty seamlessly make the transition from growing phone-hater to rabid texter. Cell phones became more and more common once I hit high school, and I was always the fastest texter on the block. Clickety click clickety click. My friends were in awestruck wonder (superb annoyance) at my ungodly skills. The reason for my lightening fingers?
Please don't make me call this person see how fast I can text it's way better so much better so much faster see look I'm already done!

Like Rachel, the author of that article, I have observed myself suffering from this odd crippling social flaw for years and I wonder why. Why am I like this? When did it start? What is the root of the problem?

Rachel has hypothesized her own root as this:

I simply want to see who I’m talking to, and I can’t on the phone. I can’t tell if they’re enjoying the conversation, or amused by my stories, or simply interested in anything I have to say. For all I know they've muted their end and are busy eating a sandwich.

It's an acute observation to point out that we want (maybe even need) feedback when we're communicating with others, whether it's a smile or a nod or just simple rapt eye contact. Perhaps that's one of the issues I have with the phone, too, but I think I've identified an even deeper part of this phobia puzzle for myself.

I am not comfortable communicating at all. 

Ever. If it involves another human that is actually responding to me, I seize up. I'm not saying I'm incapable of having fun with other people or with talking to others, because I definitely can. I love people! But I'm a grade A interrupter and I think part of it is because in lively conversation I'm always nervous. I start speaking too loudly or I speak harsher than I mean to. I blurt things out or I try to hide my true feelings. I try too hard to make people laugh, or I get too worked up trying to explain something (like why I hate the himym finale.) I'm not comfortable communicating. I'm not very good at it. It's difficult for me.
A phone call is the absolute worst representation of this because there is the added silence and pressure to speak, and that unknowable black hole on the other end that holds another person that, as she pointed out, may or may not be understanding or appreciating my words. It's incredibly frightening and frustrating. I think I have a hard enough time speaking face to face as it is. I struggle with representing my true self to others. Even to my husband who arguably knows me better than anyone else, I sometimes struggle to efficiently and honestly communicate what I'm feeling.
I always fear I'm messing up what I really want to say, which is why I find writing, blogging, texting, etc. so much easier and more freeing.
It's absolutely tied to self-doubt and insecurity, which didn't really start showing up until I was around 11 or 12, which is when this phone phobia really started.

It's the same reason I abhor confrontation, and I love cats, and I hate talking on the telephone. I am practically a born hermit.

Having said all of this, I do think I am getting better. (Getting even better is on my to do list). I simply have to bolster myself up in order to endure these encounters. I live so deeply inside my own head that I just have to work much harder to communicate enthusiastically and bravely, whether in-person or {gulp} on that blasted telephone. I recognize it as a weakness, and I know the only true cure is a giant Starbucks and a crown of resolution on my head and on my heart. I don't want to be unable to communicate with my friends, and I don't want to lose that age of connection to people in favor of Facebook and texting, because that truly isn't enough. It isn't real. I want to find my 10-year-old girl within that was alright to talk about nothing and everything with no doors barred.

I'll send you a text when I've found her.


  1. I must say that the first thing that popped in my head after reading this is - maybe it's good you're more withdrawn. Honestly, would you be as witty of a writer or able to take such stunning, yet also natural, photos? I definitely encourage more interactions with the world but don't be too hard on yourself. I think it's made you better (and I just met you!)!

  2. I love everything about this comment. Thank you!! I take those things as such compliments. I really hope we can have some one-on-ones soon!