Social Anxiety and Summer Sitting

I really thought I was past this point in my life, but apparently not. I’m going to have a summer job. At least it’s a darn sight better than that year I worked at a seafood restaurant all summer. I came home from that job every night exhausted, with my calves aching from standing up for my whole 6 or 8 hour shift, and completely depressed over the state of my tips in a tiny, rural, South-Georgia town.

And then there was the summer I worked at a furniture store. I’ve never been a good salesperson, and I was 18 – what did I know about purchasing a bed or a couch or a washing machine? That was an exercise in futility, but the owners went to my church and I think they just wanted to help me out as I tried to make money before I headed off to college.

This year, I’ll be babysitting two boys – 6 and 8 – four days a week, for eight weeks. Their family goes to our church (notice a trend in how I get my jobs?) and their mom posted a flyer a few weeks ago looking for summer childcare. I tore off a strip and then agonized for eight days about calling her.

Gruff thinks I would benefit from a little antidepressant or antianxiety medication, sometimes. I mean, I don’t know why – I’m generally a very happy (some might even call me perky!) young woman, and even though new places and new people freak me the heck out, years of moving and being the “new kid” have forced me to develop coping skills, so I manage to find new friends, new circles to move in, everywhere we go. When I was a kid, I did have a mild little case of agoraphobia that lasted for about a year. (It was right before another upcoming move, and in retrospect I think it was my way of acting out my fear of moving, uprooting, and starting over. I just didn’t want to go anywhere new, or anywhere without my family, for awhile. When I did– when they made me– I had a few panic attacks. I think that if my parents had reacted less to it, it probably would have resolved sooner on its own. But that’s water under the bridge now.) These days, I may fret and worry before a new social situation every once in a while, but I always make myself go – and I always have fun once I’m there. My one remaining “social anxiety trigger” is making phone calls.

This is FUNNY to people who know me well. I talk on the phone with my mom several times a week, usually for over an hour at a shot. I call my brother once a week or so for similarly long conversations, and I call a few of my friends who I’ve left behind in various states as often as I can. Those phone calls I love. Those phone calls make a long day better.

But calling someone I don’t know? Say, to offer up my services as a capable babysitter? Or, you know, to order a pizza?! Oh, good grief, please don’t make me! I know, that’s ridiculous. The pizza guy does not care a whit about me. But still, I hate doing it. Gruff has probably ordered 96% of all the pizzas we’ve consumed, because I whine and gripe and procrastinate doing it, and finally he takes the phone and makes the call so we will get our pizza delivered before the next Ice Age hits.

So, getting back to my summer job. I finally mustered up my courage (after a well-timed verbal jab from Gruff, I admit it) and made the call. As usually happens when I worry excessively about something, it went Fine. No Big Deal. (Will that help calm my nerves the next time? Nope. But thanks for trying.) The boys’ mom, J, was sweet and friendly, and we discussed the basics of what she needs. We ended the phone call with a plan to meet face-to-face after church on Sunday and a deal to each speak with our respective husbands.

On Sunday, we met briefly, and then on Friday she came over to our house. My biggest worry at that point was negotiating my pay – I knew that I couldn’t do it for the wage she paid her sitter last year, but I didn’t want to sound mercenary or rude in asking for what I considered fair. Gruff and a friend of mine really helped bolster my confidence, though – they had both pointed out that I’m a GEM of a sitter. I’m a fellow mother; I have an impeccable driving record; I’m an experienced (and nationally certified!) early childhood educator; and because I’m an otherwise stay-at-home-mom, I’m pretty flexible about the hours and days I’m available. I felt a little bit like Stuart Smalley, repeating all of that to myself, but I managed to croak out my request for the hourly pay I had discussed with my husband.

Can you even imagine the relief I felt when she smiled, and said she’d have to talk it over with her husband to be sure, but she thought that was completely reasonable and do-able and “well worth it?” Oh, internets, I did it! I stood up for something to, basically, a stranger – and I did it nicely, but I still managed to get what I wanted!

I made a call, did an interview, and found a job –at a price that’s worth it– that allows me to stay home with my son and make a great little extra income for a few months (which will go a long way to paying off credit card debt and reducing my overall financial stress). I’m so proud of myself… See, who needs Xanax?



5 Responses to Social Anxiety and Summer Sitting

  1. Mrs. Chicken says:

    Good for you!

    And you know what? I HATE talking on the phone. And I was a reporter … can you imagine?

  2. Waiting Amy says:

    Great Job!

    My husband and I fight with each other as to who is going to make the call for the pizza. I still even hesitate to call friends because I hate to intrude. It is a hard skill to acquire.

    Oh, and of all ironies — I too started out in journalism as a reporter! (But I think the pressure of the deadline helped.)

  3. Heather says:

    Add me to the list of people who can’t call people. And I have the issues about talking to people in social situations too.

    That’s why I write. Sooooo much easier for me to express myself.

    Congrats on coming through the anxiety with a great job for good pay!

  4. Lori says:

    I can call people…but if I have to sit next to someone new I am a nervous wreck! My hubby had to let me sit on the pew for years due to the fear of having to sit next to someone I didn’t know.

    Congrats on getting the job!

  5. Lori says:

    So sorry…it’s a little more than early and my head is fuzzy…meant to say
    “…sit on the END of the pew…”

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