I was going to write this piece last week, but then something else came up, and I decided to postpone this post here for this time. I can say I was pretty lucky because exactly this week I came in contact with one of my phobias and I got the chance to think better what to write. First of all I want to say that each one of us has his own phobias and fears, but it’s never easy to admit it. There are people who are afraid of some animals, people who are afraid of some environments or situations or things that they have to do. I will now say which are the things that I am most afraid of:
1) Phobia to make work-related phone-calls
2) Fear of paperwork and dogs
3) Panic because of the huge things i need to tackle somehow and because of things I can’t control
Why are they written in three different way? Because of the different ways I am afraid of these things. Therefore, I write phobia when simple naming that thing to do makes me afraid, ready to escape and to give that thing to someone else to do. I write fear, when thing itself doesn’t scare me, but when I am in it I realize it makes me uneasy and that I am afraid to make it wrong. I write panic when I get a feeling of overwhelming that smashes me to the ground: the bye-bye-this-is-too-much-for-me-see-you-never-again-I give-up kind of panic. Which one is the worst? I don’t know and I seriously don’t want to know; the important thing here is how to overcome this stuff. As we are all different, there isn’t just one answer. These are the answers I found for myself.
Phobia to make work-related phone-calls. This phobia is very old for me. It goes back to when I was a child and the only way to talk to a friend was to pick up the phone and call her. For some reason I was really afraid to do that. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t know who was going to answer on the other side, maybe it was the fear to make the wrong number. Who knows! I managed to overcome this fear when one day I was at work and my boss told me that in the end the person on the other side of the phone is a person just like you and if you screw up, you can always say sorry and start from the beginning. This helped me a lot, but the fact that my boss was listening to all my phone calls and correcting me each time I was saying something wrong, made me develop another phobia: the phobia related to the people around me, who listen to my phone-call. So the terrible thing now is that I have the phobia to make phone-calls not because of the person on the other side of the phone, but because of the judgement of the people who are on this side! I think this is totally crazy. I really do. As sometimes I still have to make work phone-calls, what I found out that helps a lot is to have all I have to say written down so that I can literally read it. Then the only thing I have to be careful is to read it with nonchalance. If the person asks me a question is no big problem because I am not freaking out anymore: if I know it, I answer, if I don’t, I ask to hold on and I ask it myself to someone in the office.
Fear of paperwork and dogs. Fear is different from phobia. If you name me dogs or paperwork, I don’t feel like running away, I feel more positive: I can start to fill in the forms and I can walk pass a dog knowing that nothing bad is going to happen. In theory.
In fact usually filling the forms is something on which depend many things in life: university applications, work applications, tax returns, anything! And it takes time, documents (that sometimes you have to ask at different offices) and numbers to fill them! And if you get something wrong, consequences may be many! So usually halfway through the form, I have the nightmare to pick it up again to see what is still missing. It is a very stupid fear, but is very true to me.
And then dogs. I’m ok with dogs until they start to bark at me. In fact the dogs that don’t mind me at all are my favorite ones. So if I see a dog from far away (especially if I am on my roller, and especially if the dog is a big one), I always look very carefully if the owner is attentive or not. Because it already happen to me that a dog, scared of my roller, started to attack me and was hold back only by the owner. That is seriously not a nice experience, but I understand that it’s no one’s fault.
Panic because of the huge things i need to tackle somehow and because of things i can’t control. This one here is a huge one. I would need a book to describe it. This is not a panic attack (I would never write about panic attacks because I have never had one and I don’t know almost anything about them), this is more that feeling of a mountain coming on top of me and smashing me to the ground. The huge things I am referring to might be something like a thesis. You know, a university thesis. Sometimes the research work that you have to do is so big that you have no idea where to start, or you are bombed by your professor with ideas and you, while appearing perfectly calm, are screaming inside: “Aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!” I know I can overcome this one. This one here takes away some of my tranquillity, but is not totally impossible to overcome. I only need to make my brain cut the big THESIS in pieces and to start to handle one at a time. One issue at a time, one question at a time. No one would be able to handle such an amount of work and information all at the same time. It takes some hours to convince by brain that he can do it, but usually I manage.
The second one is more difficult. Things I can’t control are really the weakness of my weaknesses. I hate not to be able to control what happens in my life and I hate too much uncertainty. Some is fine, but after a certain degree, I can’t handle it. What frustrates me the most is having done all I could to solve the uncertainty and still have to wait for an answer or for other people to decide on my life. Being this one the biggest panicking thing I have, I don’t have a solution for it because I am still looking for one. The best thing would be to tell my brain to shut down but I guess that is not an option.
I hope this will help anyone with the same, but also with different fears. We all know that we can overcome them, it just takes some mental tricks or breathing exercises to calm down and to make our brain switch on his rational side. I will never write that it is easy, though.