When I got pregnant with my daughter, I was an intensely private person in a lot of ways. The thought of disrobing in a doctor's office on the regular wasn't on my list of Awesome Shit I'd Love To Do. Still, the exams were nothing in comparison to what I knew was coming.
"You're gonna poop, you know." Maybe I just know a lot of weirdos, but this was the gleeful response news of my impending child received. Usually followed by hasty "congratulations" that had about half of the enthusiasm in it. What was once a closely guarded secret of childbirth had become headline news, and like most first time expectant moms, I was not 100% stoked at the idea of shitting myself in front of a roomful of people.
For a few months, the idea of losing any semblance of dignity and control in the delivery room had me dreading the experience. At check-ups, I still cringed when doctors asked me routine questions about my bathroom habits. And then, two months before my due date, I developed a condition straight from the depths of hell: kidney stones.
Mother. FUCK. I found myself hugging the back of the passenger seat as my then-husband sped towards the hospital and seriously considering throwing myself out of the moving vehicle. That pain was INTENSE. As we pulled up to the curb of the emergency department, I leaned over as far as my protruding stomach would allow and vomited between my feet as I simultaneously peed my pants. I didn't care. I was well beyond something as insignificant as bodily fluids. I had things that needed to get done. Once I had waddled my way inside, it wasn't long before I had stripped down naked and was howling on a hospital bed at two undoubtedly underpaid nurses to "make it STOP!"
Looking back, that was the night I stopped giving a shit about a lot of shit.
Fast forward two months, and I'm on Hour 27 of labor, again, fully naked and more than a little irritable. And again, I found myself not caring so much about things coming out of me as much as I cared about getting the whole thing done.
At one point the nurse did look up at me from the war zone below my waist and gave me a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, you're not pooping."
I knew she was a liar. The epidural had failed long ago and I was pretty aware of all the things. And I'm sure her intentions were great, but at the same time...I just wanted that baby out of me in any way necessary, and the rest was simply not my business. Nothing else mattered; I was singularly focused on my goal of expelling a human and earning my freaking nap.
That was basically a long, graphic anecdote to get to my point: fear is all about perspective. Sometimes it's easy to get lost in the minutiae of everyday life and allow yourself to be swallowed up by fears, worries, and anxieties that only seem big because you've given them too much space in your head. The little stuff (like what people think of you or pooping in front of an audience) doesn't mean anything when you're faced with the big stuff (like following your dreams, or popping out a nine pound baby).
Unfortunately, we don't always have an unbearable physical pain to help us recognize the difference between little stuff and big stuff. Sometimes, we have to take a look at the things holding us back in life and consciously decide that the things we're afraid of just aren't worth being afraid of.
Almost nothing is as big of a deal as you think. It's only by sheer blind luck that any of us exist at all, and we seem to almost instantly go about the business of making mountains out of molehills. That's a shame, because while it's a miracle that we get to experience consciousness at this level, in this form, at this exact time--it isn't going to last forever. We have a very short window of time, cosmically speaking, to live our lives and enjoy the crazy gift of just freaking being here. The best thing we can do for ourselves is be bold, face our fears, and decide:
"If I have to poop in front of an audience to achieve great things, bring it on. Shit don't scare me."