Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Crawford: Phone call phobia begone!

Illustration+by+Colin+Crawford
Illustration by Colin Crawford

While typing those 10 seemingly innocuous little digits into my phone I felt the anxiety rising inside me. My chest tightened as I pressed the lime green phone icon on the bottom of the screen and that all too familiar ring drilled into my ears. And then what I had been dreading all along finally happened — a soft click letting me know the call had been picked up.

“Hello?”

When I got to Northwestern freshman year I realized that my phone habits set me apart from the rest of my friends. I kept hearing about people calling their friends from home and how they would catch up for hours on end about their mutual new experiences at college.

Meanwhile I had yet to pick up the phone and call my closest friend Chelsea, who I’ve known for over 10 years. Living down the street from one another, it never really occurred to me to FaceTime her, because she was always there.

I have struggled with my shyness my whole life and avoiding phone calls was just one of the ways it manifested. My phone call avoidance was extreme. It wasn’t that I was afraid of my phone ― quite the opposite actually because I’m chronically online ― it was more so that talking to people on the phone made me feel insanely nervous.

Even at home whenever my mom would pass the phone to me to talk to a relative, I would always end up pacing around my house on my tiptoes, and shortly after I would give the phone back to my mom with my clammy hands.

My phone was constantly on “do not disturb” to try and deter people from calling me. I would immediately decline incoming calls out of instinct, not because I didn’t want to talk to whoever was trying to reach me. I’d send a text right after: “Sorry, can’t talk rn, what’s up?” offering another format of communication.

But something snapped during Winter Quarter of freshman year. As a Medill student I was taking JOUR 201-1 Reporting and Writing with Prof. Michael Deas. For our final project, he said none of our sources were allowed to be affiliated with NU.

Throughout the quarter he always encouraged us to call our sources. He tried to make calling our sources a general practice and our first step in our reporting to ensure we got the most accurate and genuine quotes.

This made phone calls seem more trivial in my mind. It allowed me to view making calls as something I needed to get better at for my career. After consistently emailing my sources and not receiving a response to my requests for an interview, I decided my desire to perform well in class was greater than my phobia of cold calls.

I decided to actually pick up the phone. This new association meant that I could feel more confident with each source that picked up my call.

This year, I’ve challenged myself to be more assertive. I now call my friends frequently, even just to chat. Liberating myself from my anxieties around phone calls wasn’t easy and I am still working on being more proactive in calling the people closest to me.

I’ve challenged myself by taking more seminar-based classes to overcome my aversion to public speaking, which is where I feel my fear of phone calls was really stemming from. I don’t always participate in every class, but I’m taking small steps towards taking up more space in them.

I’ve realized that talking is a form of power and by being quiet and not picking up the phone, I was hurting myself and hindering my own learning. I know phone calls can be scary, especially as an introvert. And growing up in a new technological age means that I always had other forms of communication at my fingertips. But nuance can always get lost in translation.

Maybe, just maybe, pressing that little white and green icon is fundamental to better living.

Colin Crawford is a Medill junior. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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