Being a twin is a very convenient thing to be
My twin is everything I am not. She is able to speak to people, able to order food for herself, able to make phone calls to strangers…she’s got a good thing going.
Well, I’m the opposite.
I would rather text or email all day long, even though I know those methods leave gaping holes in the area that is interpersonal communication. So when my mentor asked me to interview someone, I was less than stoked.
As a person aspiring to be both a journalist and functioning member of society, talking to other people should not be an issue, but for me it always has been. I have always relied on my twin to speak for me. As a child I would tell Alayna what I needed and she would then relay those needs to the world. Left alone, I’ve always been a bit of a mess.
I’m in kindergarten and the bathroom door is closed. For many this would be a non issue but for me it was a gigantic problem. Gaining entry to the bathroom would require me removing myself from my seat, walking all the way to the back of the classroom and knocking on the door. It was quiet time, which meant no one talking, let alone walking around. Yep, it would just be me and a knock at the door–a knock that everyone else would hear. This was too much for me to handle and yet, it paled in comparison to my larger fear—that someone else was already in the bathroom.
If I knocked and someone answered that would be the worst. That’s what I told myself anyway. I couldn’t imagine the embarrassment of having another voice call out from behind the door. I still had no idea, however, if someone was in there at all. It was the Schrödinger’s Cat of bathroom situations–the bathroom was both occupied and unoccupied.
I stared at that door for the next twenty minutes waiting for someone to come out of it and no one did, but I still convinced myself that someone was in that bathroom. My bladder had reached a tipping point. I figured I could hold it for a few more minutes until school was over and then it would only be a short walk home to safety and security of my own bathroom.
About 100 steps outside of school I peed in my pants.
I had not accounted for the pressure walking placed on the bladder. I was left with a warm-wet disaster in my tights for the rest of my walk home.
What does peeing in your pants have to do with using a telephone? Not much, apart from wishing to demonstrated how much I dislike even the idea of putting someone out, or making them uncomfortable, or unsettling them, or asking them for anything, ever.
I know enough about myself to know that I can overcome this shyness with determination. For instance, I am determined to not let this issue get in the way of having the career I want to have.
About two weeks ago Brian forwarded me the information I would need to get the interview ball rolling. I stared at that e-mail for a good thirty minutes. I spent the next day preparing myself mentally for the challenge of making a phone call, even if it was only to speak to a PR person.
The next day I went to my local coffee house and I made the mistake of drinking a large amount of caffeine. This increased my nervousness and was soon coupled with the feeling that I was having a heart attack. When I finally accepted that I was not having a heart attack, I went ahead and made the phone call.
Here’s how it went:
PR person: Hello.
Me (in a caffeine fueled mania): HI! My name is Andrea and I’m doing a story on X and I’d love to interview you for it can you let me know when you have some time to set aside to answer a few questions.
PR person: Hang on, I’ll put you in touch with Mr. Blah Blah and you can set it up from there, can you just give me your information?
That was it.
It took about two minutes. I anguished over that phone call and for what? I don’t have an actual answer for that.
Four hours later I was receiving a phone call from an unknown number on my cell phone, I don’t get a lot of phone calls and the phone calls I do get tend to be for someone named “Janet” who has presumably never paid her credit cards at any point in time ever, but I digress…
My entire family was downstairs at the time so I had to bust a move upstairs. I was going too fast for my own good and I fell up the stairs. I went on speaking hoping that the person on the end of the line hadn’t overheard the thud-thud of my body making contact with the ground. I was now talking to someone who told me I might be able to talk to another someone who would have a lot to say about the subject in which I was writing about.
My mouth went dry and I began to sweat profusely in the way that I always do when I’m very nervous but I completed the phone call without sounding like a complete fool. My method for measuring how much of a fool I do or do not sound like is based on the highly scientific scale of “did the person hang up?” or “did the person not hang up?”
This felt like a major success, which I know is not saying a whole bunch as far as my past successes go but speaking as someone who has talked themselves out of calling a dentist for an appointment, I squarely place this series of phone calls in the ‘victory’ category.
Top 3 things I’ve learned making VERY BRIEF phone calls
1. I don’t like them
They make me sweat. I repeat myself a lot, I worry about what the other person is thinking, and I constantly think the other person probably has better things to do.
2. I have to make them anyway
My livelihood likely depends on my ability to make phone calls. The other person (as Brian has discussed in previous lessons) has a job to do. I’m doing a job, they are doing a job, everyone’s doing their job-jobs.
3. They aren’t as bad as I make them out to be
The more time I give myself to make the phone call, the more nervous I am. The trick is to surprise myself into making the phone call. ‘Oh hey, look at my hands, hey what’s happening, I’m dialing a phone number? What is this madness!’
Bonus lesson: no coffee before phone calls