The night my husband and I found out we were expecting, I was drifting to sleep, dancing between consciousness and my dream world. Suddenly, my husband’s loud and insistent voice snapped me back to reality. “You’re getting an epidural!” he said eagerly, clearly falling asleep to thoughts about my impending pain 8 months later. I smiled and said, “Okay, honey” before finally ending that monumental day.
My unemotional response, however, did not hold. Why? Eventually someone shared their passion about natural childbirth with me, which struck a chord, altering the trajectory of my entire pregnancy. This, I have come to know, is something incredibly beautiful about sharing our passions with others, especially when it’s done without a conversion mentality. We have the opportunity to leave an imprint on someone’s entire existence because our passion could not be contained.
I was recently sharing with a friend about how, during my pregnancy, I became very passionate about the birthing process. I was fortunate that the birth plan I wrote actually panned out—a natural birth taking place in the water. As I shared my passion around childbirth, I grew increasingly aware of my audience. Not only did I not know my friend’s opinion on birth, but I didn’t know how she birthed her children. My speech started to slow as my awareness grew. Finally, I paused.
“I’m sorry,” I said awkwardly, “I have a disclaimer.” I went on to tell my friend that while natural childbirth is something I’m passionate about, it’s not something I expect of other women. The empowerment I experienced when giving birth to my daughter is what I wish on every woman as she decides how to birth her baby. Every woman should get to decide what is best for her and the birth of her child.
I’ve thought a lot about this childbirth conversation and about my passions, in general. I could happily talk until I’m blue in the face about those passions, yet, and here’s the kicker, there will always be someone with an equal and opposite passion. Whatever it is that I feel like I could rally around with my loudest voice and greatest confidence, someone feels just as strongly about the opposite viewpoint. If you need an example, research any two opposing presidential campaigns.
This could easily be quite disheartening for me, a wildly passionate person. “What’s the point?” is the question my mind drifts to when I think of all the equal and opposite passions driving right towards each other with impending doom and argument.
When my passion wavers, cynicism seems to take over quite quickly.
And yet, I still find myself getting skittish sharing about my passions, hence the disclaimer in that childbirth conversation with my friend. Does this mean I’m not actually that passionate? I don’t think so. I often feel the passion deep in my bones. I think, instead, it means that my fear is sometimes louder than my passion; fear of being rejected or debated, fear of offending someone or misspeaking. Our passions may be another thing that set us apart, but (here’s the best news) that doesn’t mean they have to separate us.
After sharing my disclaimer, my friend looked at me with kind eyes. “Thank you,” she said, “but I don’t feel judgement in your passion.” It turns out, she had birthed her children in an almost completely opposite manner than I did—and that was simply okay. We didn’t have to be defensive or offended, we could just be different.
I found a new level of safety in my passions after this conversation. I don’t have to hold them with a death grip, battling my way through various conversations to affirm the views I have that are ignited within me. I can hold some beliefs with so much gusto you can see me from miles away, but my gusto doesn’t have to drown out yours.
Passion can make the world a divisive place, but it can also make it a wonderfully diverse place. So tell me, what are you passionate about? You don’t even have to include a disclaimer.
Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies–she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess while eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory and her husband, Darren, live in Ohio with their beagle, Roger, and daughter, Evelyn. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.