I am a strong, confident, unashamed woman. I have run up mountains. I braved the crowd outside of the arena of a Taylor Swift concert. I once streaked the lawn in college buck naked in 20 degree weather and in plain view of campus security (woops). What I'm trying to say is that I am no coward, and yet ... I cannot pee in the work bathroom if someone is standing outside the stall to save my damn life.
There is no rhyme or reason for my "bashful bladder". Like, how is it that I would trust every single one of my coworkers to hold my liver in their bare hands (it could happen), but for some reason my bladder shrinks in abject horror at the idea of unleashing an innocent stream in front of them? To get weirdly specific, once the pee stream starts, I am totally chill. It's happening and it can't un-happen. But if there happens to be someone standing outside the stall while I am working up the nerve to pee, it just won't happen. It just won't. I could have a Niagara Falls worth of green tea threatening to rip my bladder to shreds, and it could be a friend I have known as long as I have been alive, and would still sit there like the like the yellow-bellied, non-peeing loser that I truly am — or worse, just leave. WITHOUT peeing.
I have no idea where this pee intimidation comes from, so thanks for nothing, psych degree I halfheartedly got in college. But I can speak to the incredibly awkward thoughts a pee shy lady will have in the jungle that is the work bathroom. At the risk of my "thing" at Bustle becoming Girl Who Can't Pee In Silence, I am baring both my soul and my bladder on this day — here is the bathroom #strugglebus we all know too well.
"There is a human here. ABORT."
Some people have nightmares about fire, or drowning, or looking Donald Trump directly in the eyes. Pee shy people have nightmares about walking into a bathroom where one person is standing in front of the mirror fixing their hair in total silence.
"Just pee. Just PEE. Just pee, just pee, justpee, justpeejustpeejustpeeJUSTPEE."
"Maybe if I rustle enough toilet paper/fiddle with the flusher/do the entire tap dance number from Singing In The Rain, they won't realize that I'm physically incapable of peeing right now?"
I have personally decimated entire forests unraveling toilet paper as a pee fake out.
"I need to burn these shoes before someone recognizes them."
If your coworker didn't already spot you walking in, then you have the sudden paranoid, soul-crushing belief that whoever is on the other side of that stall secretly just ducked their head down, took note of your sneakers, and is going to reply all on the next work chain e-mail that you are terrible at peeing.
"This would never happen to Beyoncé."
Of all the pressures on Beyoncé's bladder, society is not one of them.
"OMG, they're going to think I'm doing something ... else."
Don't even talk to a pee-shy person about poop-shyness. It would be like calling up Dante and letting him know that he missed the last circle of hell.
"Why are you here? Why are you doing this? WHY DO YOU HATE ME?"
At some point there is so much bladder-related darkness and self-loathing festering in you that your body has no choice but to project it on someone else — namely, whoever happens to be exhibiting their basic human right to coexist in the bathroom with you at this particular moment. Aka, SATAN.
"This is the worst moment of my life."
Even if you outlive everyone you've ever loved and die in obscurity having achieved nothing, this is somehow still the most excruciatingly aware you will ever be of your existence.
"WAIT, maybe I can do this!"
A glimmer of hope. The slightest release of tension in your urethra. HALLELUJAH. You can do this, you can DO this, you can —
"Oh no, oh no, false alarm, I'm still doomed, everything is the worst."
*Literally just 30 seconds of open-mouthed, silent screaming*
Adulthood is GREAT thanks for asking!!!!
"Why are you talking to me? Are you an ANIMAL?"
Just attempting to pee is taking every mental facility you have — and yet some monster always tries to speak to you while you're in the stall. I basically blackout as a defense mechanism. Who knows what promises Bathroom Emma has made? I could have sold off my first born 18 times by now, but with a bladder like this, HOW WOULD I KNOW?!
"HOW DID YOU GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL AND LEARN HOW TO RIDE A BIKE AND LAND AN ADULT JOB WITHOUT LEARNING HOW TO FUNCTIONALLY PEE LIKE A NORMAL PERSON JUST GOOOOOOO JUST GO JUST GOOOO JUST. GO."
At this point, you're not sure who you're yelling at — the unlucky soul in the bathroom with you, or your bladder. Either way, you have reached Batman villain levels of insanity.
"Oh, Lord. Only three to four more hours before this happens all over again."
And only 40 more years until you can retire and pee in peace. R.I.P., you.
Images: Kathryn Kattalia/Bustle; Giphy