Facing your Every Day Fears like a Movie Hero (or Batman)

Batman is a great study on facing phobias of any kind, especially Bale’s Batman in the recent movie trilogy (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself being a fan.)

Who says movie superheroes have to take all the credit for facing and conquering fears? I mean you and I may never have to face off against some psychopathic  baddie determined to annihilate a city, but we do have fears that we have to face and well . . . if you have watched a little superhero action like Batman then you know that facing our fears and conquering them makes us better people, maybe even mini-Batmans in our soul. Okay, that might have been a little too deep.

Seriously though, several movies that are releasing soon are about heroes standing up against something bigger than themselves (Big Hero Six, Mockingjay Part 1, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and Unbroken are select few that I want to see). Watching these movies (at least for me) makes me wish I was just as empowered with some super skill, but simply choosing to do the right thing, even when we are afraid or hate what we know we must do is a sign of strength. This summer I thought a lot about my fears and wrote about how I overcame some of them. My experiences might not be film worthy, but I know they have made me a little stronger. Here is an excerpt on one of them. . .

I can honestly say I have the oddest fears and yes, this is a genuine fear. A lot of skanky things go down in public bathrooms. Even before I turned thirteen, I knew that a public bathroom is where you do your business and get out as quickly as possible.

My determination not to use a less than stellar bathroom broke down once my family moved to Korea. Plus, there was the issue of the toilets in the floor. I made a pledge to myself that I would NEVER EVER use a squat toilet. NEVER. I would try the food, ride the trains, learn a little of the language, bow instead of shaking hands, but I WOULD NOT USE the squat toilets unless I could help it. Like that Justin Bieber ballad says “Never say never,” my friend.

When I was sixteen, my family took a trip to Beijing, China. One day we spent a whole day at the market and somewhere in the hours around noon I had to go.

There was no dancing around the fact. The bathroom didn’t even have the luxury of a door. Just a faded sign indicating which gender can do business in that room. I crept in slowly, but calmly. I didn’t want anyone to know that I detested public bathrooms. There were five stalls which are all occupied. In my head, I knew that meant I could not pick the cleanest one. Before I could even begin to pray that my toilet is clean, a woman walked out of a stall which meant I had to take her place.

I walked in and saw a hole in the ground. There might have been a little something there to border the hole. There might have even been a place to put your hands or feet to stabilize yourself. I am really not sure. A porter potty, the woods even, might have been a lot nicer.

Apparently, my stall was very popular for missing the mark. Some of the contents formed little leaning towers of Pisa. The great ancient builders of old and impressionist painters would have been proud.

I didn’t freak out though.

Yes, I did use that bathroom, but my mind was not there in that minute of relief. Instead, I pretended that this was an everyday occurrence. I acted as calm as if I were simply using a five-star bathroom-albino white toilets with automatic flush. No big deal.

Yet, as soon as it was over, I fumbled with my door lock and lurch out the stall. I almost plowed down the woman at the sink, who looked up in surprised.

“Oh sweetie. Are you okay?” my mom said because she was also washing her hands at the sink like it was just another normal day at the market.

“Yeah,” I wiped a bead of sweat and chuckled. “I just forgot there is an instep out of the stall.”

In reality, I was trying to flee the germs from the artwork of stall 3. Any minute now the mess that border the crater hole was probably picking itself up and figuring out how to open stall 3 door, whispering “We want herrr. We want to touch herrrr. . .”

I dashed my hands under the sputtering flow of water coming out of the faucet. Then I fled like a frightened deer who flees from merely a curious watcher.

The germs were reaching for me and there was no returning point for me. I would not let them get me.


But that day became a first. It was the first time I used an inside toilet that was in the ground. I said I never would. I guess I have now. That moment I faced my fear of toilets. I didn’t run away. It was a turning point for me. From then on I faced public bathrooms with a brave face, knowing whatever scarred my innocent eyes and nose for a moment would only be for a moment. I would be fine in 24 hours. Perspective makes every thing better, and next time I use a public squat toilet I will be ready.


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