Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I am still such a timid wimp

This week I'm calling references for a couple of our short-listed candidates for the search for which I'm the non-departmental committee member.

(That was a cumbersome sentence. I will let it stand.)

I am not a big User of Phones. Really not. In fact, my cell phone only rings about four times a month--and two of those will be from the fellow whom I call "My Captain," because when he calls, I first hear a foghorn and then a recorded message saying, "Hello, this is your captain speaking," and am offered a free trip to somewhere (I hang up before they get to the destination. Or maybe I've just forgotten). Apart from My Captain, I sometimes get a call from CVS telling me that my prescription is ready to be picked up, and occasionally my alma mater (undergrad) calls me to ask for money.

And this is my fault, really, because I never call anyone. Before TM and I lived together, I did get some more calls, but now I basically pay $50 a month for an alarm clock and time-keeper for my seminar (where there is no clock. Oh, and most of my calls come through during that seminar, too).

Annnnyway, all this is to say that I don't like calling people whom I don't know. I get very nervous. And these calls in particular made me very nervous--like, I was having flashbacks to waiting for telephone interviews a couple of years ago. Jittery and sweaty and whatnot. I had to go into TM's office and ask him to talk me down--he was so baffled by me that he couldn't say much to help, but his very bafflement did in fact help.

Of course the calls are going perfectly fine. Lovely, in fact. Everyone is happy to talk about his or her grad student/visiting colleague. They say delightful things and now I really want to meet, and then hire, both of these people. I've completed five out of my six calls.

But I was really especially nervous about calling some of the references, I think, because they're tenured faculty at Big Fancy Universities, and here I am pretending to be, like, a colleague of theirs. So the whole time we're talking, they don't know how old I am! They don't know that I'm not dressed particularly well (because my office is freezing, seriously, so yes I am wearing a bright red zippered cardigan over a dark red button-down, and yes I do have on long underwear)! They don't know that I'm not a senior person, and when I say things like, "We want our faculty to feel that they can continue to pursue their research," they don't know that I'm a junior professor who has no business saying things like that! In fact, they don't know that I have no business calling myself a professor at all, ha ha ha ha ha!

See what I did there? Yep, that's the crux of the anxiety, I think. Most days--at least in the context of Field--I have no real impostor syndrome anymore. I inhabit my role quite comfortably. But when I come into contact with certain contexts...well, let's just say that I do not radiate unflappable confidence.


Sisyphus said...

You big silly! You have a book coming out, you! And you did it while teaching a four-four load, so stop impostering. :)

Maude said...

I agree with Sisyphus!

that being said, I *totally* get the phone phobia thing. OMG. I freak out if the phone rings and I don't recognize the number. I don't make phone calls unless absolutely necessary. I call my mom and the SB. That's it. Otherwise, I text or email. Before people had mass texting plans, I'd email friends to see if they wanted to go out. If they didn't check their email until Monday, well, I was S.O.L. because I wouldn't pick up a phone and call. I'm always relieved to get an answering machine or voicemail. Part of why I don't have cable is because I'm having trouble signing up on-line. I will not call them to get cable hooked up.That means I probably won't have cable until the SB gets back stateside. It's also why I haven't made my doctor's appointments. That involves a phone call. So I commend you for making the calls.

The above is precisely why I sucked as a telemarketer and why I sucked at Asshat Insurance. Not that I was trying to succeed there though.

Dr. Crazy said...

Look, calling strangers on the phone and acting like you have business calling them can even make the least wimpy of us quiver. I'm very much a phone talker, but this is one of the HUGE contributing factors to my decision NOT to pursue my undergrad degree in journalism. I never got over the cold-calling anxiety. And when I called the people from our list for MLA interviews? I was anxious about that, too, and seriously, how badly could that go? I was giving them happy Christmas present early sort of news. But it's hard to call people one doesn't know, even for those of us who really enjoy the phone.

Whatever the case, you stop it with the impostor syndrome, sister. You ARE the colleague of those people you phoned up. You ARE part of the field (not just of Field). Feeling flappable doesn't make you an impostor - it makes you human :)

Maude said...

exactly what crazy said!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I'm more nervous about calling people I *do* know. With calls like the one you describe, I can be all business-like, which I know is not *me*, so nothing bad will happen. But I can't seem to call up a colleague at work to pass the time of day, or just say hi.

heu mihi said...

Thanks for the consolations--but really, I know that I'm ridiculous. I just wanted to point out my absolute ridiculousness to the world.

I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in irrational telephonophobia, however! Email really is splendid thing.