In Search of Cheer (And Change)

I am a hyper-avoidant person. If the phone rings and I do not recognize the number, I break into a cold sweat and press ignore as quickly as possible so it will just stop already. Then I wait without breathing, as a pit grows in my stomach, to see whether that little “voicemail” icon will appear in the top left corner of my screen. If it doesn’t, I immediately delete the call from my list and pretend it never happened. If it does, sometimes I can listen to it right away, and sometimes I go for days or even a week or two before mustering up the courage to see what it said. Even calls from people I know are not altogether immune. If work calls, I panic and my first thought is “Was I supposed to work today and totally forgot? I’m fired ohmigodohmigod.” If it’s a family member, my first thought is “What happened?!” (We are not really a family of phone-talkers, with the exception of my grandmother. We can talk.)

I have this same panic, to a somewhat lessened degree, about email. It’s not as bad because it isn’t happening in real time and I am, more than with phone calls, in control, but that twinge is always there. And it manifests in other ways, too–if I ever screw anything up, I just want to bury my head in the sand. It takes everything I have to pull it out, shake it off, and try to fix it, even if I desperately want to.

I realize this is probably both more common and less normal than I originally thought.

That assumption, however, doesn’t help me much. Submitting my headshot and resume to various auditions around the city is problematic, for example. I am not overcome with nerves about whether or not they’ll want to see me or whether or not I’ll be cast. My brain doesn’t get that far. I’m nervous even pressing “send.” Do I do it? Yes, of course. I am an actor and I want to be in things. That usually trumps the nerves. But if I have to call a casting office? Yikes. I literally sit there and look at my phone for hours (after putting it off for days) because I hate cold-calling.

I’m telling you all this, not for the absolution of confession, but because it’s really starting to get in the way of things, and sometimes (I’m told) talking about it helps. I mean, when the shower in my apartment stopped draining I let it get to the point where it filled to the top of the bath every time it ran because I just wouldn’t/couldn’t call building maintenance for like three months.

But, good news (she sighed, sarcastically)! Life is about to seriously force my hand. My best friend and roommate is moving 3,000 miles away to Los Angeles in three and a half short months. She will be followed shortly thereafter by two other close friends from our group until–surprise! The group is actually in L.A. and I am the only one here. This means no fed-up roommate to call building maintenance because I cannot do it myself. This means I will have to seek out, of my own volition, apartments and a new roommate or roommates, a U-Haul, and everything that entails. I will not be able to hide in the fact that I am sad (depressed?) and not get out of bed. I will have to do things. And I will not have the luxury, as I have in the past, of leaning on my parents to help me move.

By that time, the hotel will be busy again and I will be working more (probably even a lot). I won’t be overdrawing my bank account, on payday, to pay my rent. I won’t be sitting here on my beat-up couch, still in my bathrobe with the day half over and the blinds down to block out the harsh, chilly January sun while writing TMI-tell-alls about my various anxieties on a blog with a readership that is modest at best. I will be in a different, probably better, mental state than I am now. I will write things about the auditions I’m going on that week and what movie I saw and this interesting idea I had for a story. I hope at that point, when so many things will be going smoothly or even well, I will be more empowered to do simple things that normal humans do every day, like pick up my damn cell phone when it rings and cold-call a potential landlord or even, god forbid, start paying back my student loans.

But that has not, historically, been the case. Instead I sit inside and google .gifs of baby hedgehogs for hours (you guys, I really want a hedgehog) or start reading books I’m never going to finish and wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life. Welcome to January, right? But at some point I have to get over myself and just…you know…live. It isn’t hard. People do it every day. And I know some frigging Wicker Park hipster is waiting with a finger wagging in the air to tell me that “Most people don’t really live, you know? They’re just robots” and maybe that’s true. But they are functional robots.

So, feel free to call me today. I promise I’ll try to answer.

Here is a hedgehog .gif. Because of reasons.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, it sometimes takes a lot of courage to talk about anxiety. Though many of us experience anxiety,everybody has their own different account on how it makes them feel,though there are the classic symptoms.

    I feel the need to comment as I have gone through anxiety since being a teenager and was hospitalised for it (in addition to an eating disorder).

    I am not sure what stage you are at with your anxiety, but it does help to receive counselling to address the problem as well as find ways to help manage it.

    Anxiety is very common and it means a lot when I hear others speak about their own personal stories.

    All the best,and I promise things do get better.

  2. I know exactly how you feel. This is embarrassing, but I couldn’t go into a Subway restaurant alone until I was about 16. I mean… I DID it but I was petrified the whole time. I still have trouble going to the store alone. And I still get weird about Subway sometimes, usually if I have to get someone else’s sandwich. I get cold sweats just thinking about it.

    Anyway, Alyssa, you are an amazing writer and you so eloquently write out so many things that are in my head as well that would come out in a big ol’ mess if I tried to write it out. I really enjoy your blog. 🙂 Also, I miss your face.

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