anxiety · life · phone anxiety · phone phobia · social anxiety

Call Me Maybe

I get terrible anxiety whenever I have to make phone calls, but I’m starting to think the trepidation of waiting for someone to call me back is even worse. No, it’s not that I assume I will be called, it’s that I expect it, especially since I left two voice messages and politely asked to be phoned back whenever the person has time. I have never been so aggressive as I have this time while following up with a job, which is because I am adamant that I deserve this job and am more than qualified for it if only someone would give me a chance to be interviewed. I submitted my resume and cover letter for the job vacancy more than two weeks ago. I feel indignant about the lack of response.

The last time I got through the phone line on January 18th, I was told that I’d either receive a call for an interview appointment or an email confirming I had not been chosen for an interview. Additionally, I was supposed to hear back from them a week after the resume and cover letter submission date passed. This is what the woman on the phone at the Human Resources office told me, with the implication that it was taking longer because they have many applications to get through. After that, I asked for an estimate of how long I would have to wait. She transferred me to another extension so I could speak to the person reviewing the applications. I got the answering machine, but I felt assured that if I left a message along with my number, I would hear back in time.

Nope. When I wasn’t called back, I phoned in the following week on Thursday. The person who I spoke to didn’t have the answers for me and offered to transfer me to Megan. She specifically instructed me to leave a message for Megan, who would not be in until Friday (the next day). Again, I got the answering machine. I was waiting the whole day on Friday, but she did not call me back. A thousand things went on in my head. Did or didn’t she check her voice messages? If she did, maybe she listened to it but either forgot to call me or was too busy? I repeated these unanswered questions in my head, again and again, trying to work out a conclusion with no evidence of what actually happened on Megan’s end. I recalled the message I had left her on Thursday and vaguely went over the words I had said into the answering machine. I remember how my chest clenched tightly after I finished recording the message and hung up, as I counted the times I faltered or briefly paused for 2 seconds as I fumbled to finish my impromptu sentences, out of fear the machine would cut me off if I talked for too long. Stupid, stupid, stupid. No wonder she didn’t call you back. You probably sounded really annoying with your rambling. I went back and forth with this in my head for a while and then decided maybe it was better to believe she didn’t have time to check her messages, which would save her the trouble of hearing my message to her. Still, that didn’t sit right with me either, because if she didn’t know I called, it meant I would have to call again.

Anxiety twisted in my stomach as I imagined tapping the “call” button and waiting for it to ring for several beats, as my own heart is jumping in sync with it until someone picked up. Oh God, oh God, what do I say? I shook myself out of the what-if scenario. It was a temporary reprieve I tricked myself into, but that Friday, I put off calling. I gave myself a bunch of excuses. Well, it’s the eve of the lunar new year. Your cousin Lily is here to spend time with you so the phone call can wait. Maybe Megan might call later in the day, at least? If not, I’ll call on Monday.

That weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was both unable to relax since I received no callback, but also, I wanted to find out why. I called the main number on Saturday, with the answering machine picking up. I knew no one was in the office on weekends, but somehow I felt I had to call to make sure I wasn’t avoiding an opportunity to get an answer. Simultaneously, when I want to call, I also don’t want to. Many a time I’ve planned to call a place, only to not make the call because I want to avoid feeling anxiety.

Monday rolled by. Yesterday, at 9:45 am. I took a deep gulp of water before I began tapping my phone. The anticipation of the situation was worse than the reality of it. Down to the last second before I called, I kept second guessing myself. I always expect the worst to happen, and if not the worst, it has to be something bad. I think the anticipation makes me more nervous than I need to be. In my mind, it was a big deal to explain over the phone about my situation and how I had attempted to get in touch with Megan, but to the person who was listening on the other end, it most likely was just a mundane thing. Before I got transferred again to Megan’s phone extension, the woman noted that Megan was in for the day so she could help me. I hoped, as the line rung, that Megan would pick up. She did not. I left another message and hung up. Later that day I called to ask if I could have Megan’s extension number so I wouldn’t have to keep phoning the main line. I was denied since it’s against their policies. Then I got told to just wait for Megan to get back to me since she was in a couple of meetings for the day. Somehow I am doubtful she will.

I don’t want to be obsessive about this, really, I just want answers about my job application, please. I am not looking forward to calling again next week and repeating the same situation of leaving a third message while trying to not sound impatient as I asked to be called back soon maybe. I get it. People are busy. At the same time, I am not as patient because the longer I wait to hear back about this job (which I really, really want), the more my brain thinks I won’t have a chance of being hired.

5 thoughts on “Call Me Maybe

  1. I hate waiting for important phone calls. Waiting for the program coordinator to return calls sent my anxiety through the roof. I ended up leaving messages and felt like I was being such a bother. Overtime I think about that situation happening, ugh….

    Plus, because I’ve struggled with knowing peoples thoughts and emotions makes talking on the phone hard. If I’m in person I can look at them and know where I stand but you can’t do that on a phone. Plus I need time to reflect on how I will respond. I much prefer text to anything.


    1. For sure, I feel like I bother as well when I repeatedly call, no one answers, I leave a message, and then when the person doesn’t call me back after some days have passed, I am ridden with anxiety knowing I have to call again.

      Communicating through text is easier for me as well. I’ve always gravitated to being able to express myself best through written messages, while I feel so uneloquent speaking to someone face-to-face. It’s interesting that communicating in person is easier for you than on the telephone. Phone calls make my anxiety skyrocket, but at least on the phone I can just use my voice and feign assertiveness. If I try to do this in person, I inevitably lose confidence because I have to maintain eye contact. I have a paranoid fear of people being able to detect my social anxiety just from looking at me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I relate a lot with the (job) phone call anxieties that you have. I bet my anxieties rose during my last major job search because of the waiting game along with how tough the job market is many qualified job applicants and many times, I didn’t get responses from those potential employers. Unfortunately, job searching is a numbers game, and despite how much I’d pine over a few job positions, I learned not to put my search on hold for those responses and to keep applying. Best of luck on that job position you’re referring to and the rest of your search!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely feel the burn of the waiting game right now. Usually I get into a funk as I wait for the callback and almost put all my hopes on getting the job, to the point I find myself unable to focus my energies on other things. Everyday I feel the weight of my own unemployment.


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