Social anxiety

Just a Phone Call

“I’d also like to read about your life and thoughts in general,” says Erika.

“Are you able to say exactly what you want from others when you write?” asks Mapelba on her blog. “Money? How much? A compliment? What would that compliment be?”

“I want to be understood,” I reply. “I want people to stop judging me by their interpretation of what they see and discover the reality behind it. I want money, too. And compliments. But most of all I want to be understood.”

So here is an excerpt from my life. Although I’m worried you won’t understand it.

I have lived in Israel for most of my life, but I arrived as an adult. I’ve acquired a fairly good grasp of the language, but my accent tells all but a few other non-native speakers that my native tongue is English, even if they assume that I come from the US.

The other day I had to make a phone call. And here’s the first thing you probably won’t understand: phone calls are problematic. I worry about them beforehand, wonder whether I could substitute an email. Sometimes they turn out to be OK, other times they don’t.

Anyway, I phoned, said what I had to say and listened to the reply. Everything was going fine until I requested clarification about something he’d said. It wasn’t that I hadn’t understood any word of his Hebrew, just that I wanted him to explain something further. At this point he, a native Hebrew speaker, switched to English. I listened with mounting anger and kept quiet. The only thing I said was “all right” (in Hebrew). I wanted to tell him to stop talking in English, but didn’t think I could manage that without sounding angry, and that wouldn’t be fair to him because he obviously thought he was helping me.

This scenario has happened to me many times. Each time it infuriates me. I want to shout at the person who does this to me, “Just because I’m quiet, it doesn’t mean I’m stupid!” But it wouldn’t be appropriate.

So there it is. My life and thoughts. Does anyone understand?



TakingThePlungeHelp! I’m standing on the edge and afraid to take the plunge. And that’s because I can’t see what I would jump into. Is the water rough or calm? Maybe there’s no water at all and diving in would be my downfall.

Maybe I should stop playing with metaphors and come to a decision. The problem is twofold:

Outside in

If people who only know me virtually get to know me from the outside – where I live, who I live with, what I do – will they still want to know me? I want to reach everyone, and especially anyone I can help. I wouldn’t want to put anyone off by bringing my outside in.

Inside out

If people who only know me from the outside get to know my inside – my thoughts and how they impact on my behaviour – will they dismiss me as a weirdo? I don’t want to put them off either.

But I spent my childhood keeping the secrets I was told to keep. I don’t want secrets of my own. And I’ve spent my life longing to be understood. I can’t be understood if I don’t explain. I know that if my novel is published … when my novel is published … the publishing of my novel would/will make this happen anyway, but do I want it now? Isn’t it happening anyway, willy nilly? Is my only question whether to speed up the process?

Others have done it. Why not me?