Taking the Plunge

I’m an almost constant ball of anxiety.

I know I’ve said this before, but my MO is just to be worried about everything.

Anxiety holds me back from both work and experiences, it holds me back from big things and small things. It stops me from taking risks or speaking up, and then it punishes me later when I do take a risk or speak up.

How many of us sit in bed overanalyzing a small comment that we made three days ago that probably no one remembers but us? *raising my hands frantically*

One of my personal improvement goals this year is not to let anxiety build up around the little things. One example I have: I hate using the phone.

I hate calling people, I hate when they call me. When I was a teenager my mom told me that I couldn’t learn to drive a car unless I got over either my paralyzing fear of the phone or my paralyzing fear of using the oven. I learned to use the oven.

Unfortunately, unless you choose to live off the grid, you can’t avoid the phone forever.

The more practice I’ve gotten the better I feel about it, but I still hate it. I double and triple-check any phone number before I dial it, I make sure it’s the right one, and I will probably hang up once if they take a long time to answer, then have to dial it again.

In February, the little thing I tried to conquer was putting off making necessary calls.

It does sound like a little thing, but for me I hyperfocus on it until it’s over with. And it seems like I’ve had to make a ton of calls this month.

Yesterday was a big day for me because I had to call the orthodontist to reschedule an appointment, I had to schedule a grooming appointment for my dog, and call to make a reservation for her at a boarding place when I’m out of town in a couple of weeks.

One thing that helped me get through these phone calls was talking myself through it: I’m not inconveniencing the people I’m calling; in this case, all of these were businesses who regularly deal with scheduling and rescheduling, and I was able to finally come to terms with the fact that they wouldn’t (shouldn’t) be annoyed by my calling.

The other thing that really helped me yesterday was what I’m going to call the “Plunge Method”. I’m taking a metaphorical plunge into the cold water, it will feel better once I stop dreading it and just do it.

Disclaimer: this doesn’t work for every situation, but my experience with my February goals has been that it works pretty damn well for everyday things that you have to do and are afraid to do.

How I accomplished this was simple, but I had to be deliberate. I took a twenty-minute break at work and made all three calls in a row.

The orthodontist was my biggest fear (because heaven forbid, I was rescheduling an appointment I already made!), so I called them first. They were lovely, they weren’t inconvenienced at all.

The dog groomer was a delight to talk to (not to mention the fact that I’m no longer anxious that my poor mini Goldendoodle is getting shaggy and I haven’t done anything about it and I’m a horrible dog owner, etc., etc.), and she’s all set to go to the dog boarding place when I’m gone (and I don’t have to worry about not having a plan in place to take care of her, etc., etc.).

In short: this is one instance of how this goal has improved my life. I’m finding that I can call on these experiences when I’m anxious about making a phone call, reaching out to someone new, or speaking up, because these little successes are a reminder that I’m a capable adult who doesn’t need to be as afraid as I am.

I have since used these little successes to reach out to coworkers with new ideas, I’ve gained confidence knowing that even if I fail or think I fail, that at least I tried and I’m still alive and I have more experience knowing what works and what doesn’t.

It’s also even helped in my personal relationships: I was able to help my mother-in-law out with something because I got over my fear of taking initiative, and she found my experience helpful.

It’s still scary, but I’m so much better at applying my “Plunge Method” because I have more experience with it. My anxiety about this aspect of my life is getting better, and I have confidence that it will continue to do so.

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