#FirstWorldProblems - Message Anxiety

Mar 29 2013 Published by under [Brain&Behavior]

We women talk a lot about imposter syndrome, the feeling that eventually someone is going to find out that we are "faking it," that we are not as smart or good as they think.

This post deserves an LOLCat

Over the past couple of weeks I have experienced a different sort of issue, and I wonder if it has a name.  It starts with a message from someone with authority of some sort. It could be a memo with a return address, an email, a phone message, so long as the person contacting me is perceived to outrank me or have some control over me. I immediately become anxious. Not panic-attack anxiety, but my first thought is what have I done now? I feel like a schoolgirl getting called to the principal's office, even though my summons in those pre-college years generally meant a call from my parents or an award of some sort.

I have always felt this way, but this arose 3 or 4 times recently. Yesterday I began to ponder why I react this way, especially since I do not have a history of bad experiences to justify this expectation.

Does anyone else feel this way in this situation?

Does this inappropriate fright response have a name?

I can usually talk myself off the ledge (although I have never actually gotten to the ledge, that's just the expression), so the 2 or 3 episodes a year I previously experienced never got my attention. It was only a short period with several instances that got me wondering about this first world problem.

Anyone else have message anxiety?

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6 responses so far

  • fusilier says:

    Use it as a tool for Structured Procrastination:
    http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/

    "Sorry I didn't return your call right away, but I had to ...."

    fusilier
    James 2:24

  • theshortearedowl says:

    For me it's less "uh-oh I'm in trouble!" and more "uh-oh - what additional work am I about to be given?" But that could be a grad student thing.

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