Even with this clear instruction recorded on my phone’s greeting, invariably, friends and family will still leave me little messages that sound something like this–not ranked in order of annoyance.
“Hi, it’s Karen. I know I’m not your mother, but please call me.”
“Oh, hi. Ha ha. Funny. Call me. Oh, it’s Sean.”
“Hi. Call me.”
“This is Dr. Polowy’s office reminding you of your appointment next week. If this is the correct number, please call us back.”
“This IS your mother. Call me.”
C’mon. It’s 2016. Even my 84-year old mother has a smartphone and can see who her missed calls are from. Isn’t it time voicemail was eliminated? Even email is too slow for me. FaceTime me. Skype me. But, puhleeeease, don’t make me listen to your long, rambling voicemails that all end in the same place as a missed call. I get it. You want me to call you.
But that’s not really what I mean when I say don’t leave a voicemail.
What I am really saying is that I do not care to talk on the phone. I do not like to FaceTime or Skype, either. If you invite me to a party, or any gathering of large people, there is a high probability I will come up with some plausible excuse not to be there. Do not even think of knocking on my door unexpectedly. I prefer to communicate on my own terms. Sure, let me know you are trying to reach me. And when I can, I will answer back.
What I don’t have is phone aversion or rudeness. What I do have, and always have had, is a compelling need for a high amount of alone time.
Time to myself. A time when I have not committed to an appointment, a favor, a date, work, anything that requires a large degree of time away from my safe place of home. The space that I have filled with comfortable furniture, books, a place to watch movies, a bedroom sanctuary made for sleep, my project areas–my stuff.
As a child, when I misbehaved, my mother (the only person with voicemail privilege) would send me to my room for an afternoon. That is, until she discovered I was lying on my closet floor reading books from the floor to ceiling bookshelves my father had built. That soon ended as punishment. I was so happy just being alone and reading.
Some people might describe my behavior as social anxiety. But I love people. I’m a successful public speaker. I worked as a trainer. I have mastered the art of small talk with anyone on any topic. I was a media spokesperson. I can use my words, and I can use my energy. But it is finite.
To be me requires a great amount of refueling.
I am able to expend large lengths of time when I must. Deadlined projects. Overtime. I recently took on a 12 hour a day caregiving job for two weeks straight. Yes, I am capable of fast tracking, but the result is recovery isolation. I simply give until I have no more to give. To my safe place, I return to refuel and recharge.
If you want to get ahold of me–don’t leave a voicemail. Unless you’re my mother.