Over the years, and especially recently, I’ve been offered the opportunity to participate in several podcast interviews about my work. I did do one of these several years back, when Crochet Saved My Life was first released, but all of the others I’ve said that I wanted to do them and backed out either over time or at the last minute. A recent example really brought to light for me that different people see phone calls very differently, something I knew but realized in a new way.
I was invited to do an interview with Stephen for the Yarnbomber podcast. And there was a part of me that really, really wanted to do it. I love what Stephen does, I think the (fairly new) podcast is special, it’s directly in line with everything I love about our crochet community, and it would have given me a chance to do an interview about the Mandalas for Marinke project, which is so very close to my heart.
I hesitated, because I know I hate phone calls, but then I eventually said yes. I said yes because of the part of me that wanted to participate and I also said yes because of the part of me that believes that I have to say yes to these opportunities to broaden my own world and promote the work that I’m doing. But even in that first yet, I mentioned that my hesitation was because of anxiety about phone calls. He was super nice about it and said that other people feel nervous, too, suggesting that I might want to contact a few of the previous interviewees who had been nervous too, to learn more about their experience.
And that’s where things differ for me … because I’m not nervous about phone calls per se. I know that they’ll go fine and aren’t a big deal. But nevertheless, I get anxiety about them. And anxiety is different from nervous. Anxiety is paralyzing. Anxiety is the physical stir in the body that comes from a “fight/flight/freeze” reaction.
We set the interview. I rescheduled. Then the day of the rescheduled interview, I considered rescheduling again and finally just decided to cancel. I wasn’t in a good place to do the interview. Could I have done it? Yes, of course. But it was giving me loads and loads of stress having it on my calendar. It’s not so much that there were particular fears or thoughts associated with it as just this growing, spreading feeling of dread with each passing minute closer to the phone call.
Some times in life, these things are easier than others. Right now happens to be a time when anxiety is harder for me. I’m taking medications (for asthma) that increase my body’s feeling of anxiety. So I feel anxious a significant portion of the time, not because of anything happening psychologically, but purely because of a physical response. (It’s the lesser of two evils at the moment because the meds do help my breathing, which had gotten really bad, and I kind of like to breathe.) And although I’m better now, I was in a recent small bout of major depression, so my psychological state is a bit fragile as well. It wasn’t the right time.
Stephen was super nice about it. I apologized – for canceling but also for committing when I knew I might cancel. And I wanted to reassure him that I absolutely love what he does and really appreciate the invite and want to support his work in any way that I can. (Some of this urge to “fix it” relates to previous issues I’ve had when canceling phone interviews. Sometimes people take it personally.) He wrote back and told me not to worry at all about him, that he understood, etc. And there was this line in his message that just stood out to me: “You know, this is supposed to be fun.”
Huh? I promise that it had never once occurred to me that doing a podcast interview might be fun for anyone. Never. At its best, I considered it a potentially okay experience that I would look back on fondly (from a far distance, once it was all complete), as a necessary evil for participating in my own chosen community and as something that would be good for sharing the work that I’m doing, which is work I truly believe in. So, “okay” and “necessary” made sense but fun didn’t register anywhere on my radar of what this call could possibly be.
The thought has stuck with me over the past couple of weeks, as I’ve mulled about why I hate phone calls so much but also about what one considers to be fun and what place this all has in my working life today. As for why I hate phone calls, the truth is that I don’t really know. I know that there was a time in my young teenage years when you couldn’t pry me off the phone, where anyone who called got a busy signal (because that was during the days when there were online landlines and you had to pay for call waiting so we didn’t have it), days when my dad would get up at 3am for a glass of water and realize that I was still on the phone. I know that it was this way at the beginning of high school and by the end of high school I mostly didn’t talk on the phone.
In my early twenties, going through a terrible bout of depression, I really had to struggle with phone calls. I would force myself to make and answer the important ones. And I had a couple of friends that I connected with by phone because somehow that was our mode of communication. Email was available but wasn’t commonly used to communicate and texting cost per-message money that I didn’t have. So I did still sometimes have long conversations on the phone with friends but mostly because there weren’t good alternatives. Believe me, I’d have written long letters instead of making calls if my friends had been open to the idea.
The modern world of communication works much better for me. I’m totally comfortable with texting. I love texting, in fact. I love staying in daily regular contact with the people that I care about it a non-voice way, trading information about the mundane and the special through text. And I love that this has now been supplemented with social media where I can learn more about the people that are in my life without having to pick up the phone and call them.
I don’t think that these things entirely replace one-to-one conversations. I talk on the phone to my beaux most days (although that has a lot to do with a compromise because I’m a texter and he’s a caller). And I talk on the phone to my parents and siblings because I miss them like crazy and texting alone isn’t enough. If I could instantly transport them here for occasional face-to-face conversations then I would never call but the phone call is the best option so I do it. Notably, I strongly prefer video calls to voice calls.
Other than these few people, I’d rather not talk on the phone. Sometimes the idea of making and taking calls really paralyzes me. For example, I’ve had a gift certificate for a massage for nearly a year and I haven’t used it yet because they don’t accept online appointments and it stresses me out to have to call and place the appointment. Notably, I loathe any sort of place that requires reservations but doesn’t provide an online option for making them. I take a few other calls because there are certain instances where something is significantly easier to explain quickly in a call than have to share via a million texts (typically in regards to petsitting care). When a very close friend is in a crisis and really needs the support, I’ll pick up the phone. It’s not that I can’t make and take calls. It’s just that I don’t like it.
Mostly, this works fine. Most people don’t require phone calls. But it does come up in challenging ways. Over the years, I’ve often had places require a phone interview before accepting me for a freelance writing job. In the past, I always took these, although over time I’ve come to the conclusion that nine times out of ten if they require a call then they don’t really understand what I do and we aren’t compatible for working together. I’ve also done phone interviews with people as part of my work (me interviewing them or them interviewing me) but again I’ve found over time that this is not how I like to work. Not only do I hate the phone call part but then you don’t have a written version of what was said to work with for your article. I don’t get why people would prefer a call in this case.
And this brings me back to the comment that it’s supposed to be fun. The comment really doesn’t even compute. I turn it over and over in my mind like a rare and precious gem, wondering where it could have come from on this planet because it doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. And what I realize is that it’s okay to hate phone calls, as long as doing so doesn’t totally limit my ability to navigate my world, and it’s okay, for the most part, to decide not to participate in things that require them. I appreciate every little bit of self promotion that’s offered to me when it comes to my work but I’m (thankfully) no longer in a stage of career where I have to accept every scrap on the off chance that it will lead to something that helps pay my debt down, so I can be more choosy about the way in which I work. And although there are community opportunities that it hurts a bit to turn down, like this one, I’m learning to be okay with hearing my own heart and doing what’s right for me right now.