How to Overcome Your School Bathroom Use Anxiety

Isabella Teasdale, Correspondent

An incoming high school student has a few fears: getting lost, making friends, who to sit with at lunch. However, there is one fear in particular that will stick with them forever: the bathroom. Stamford High bathrooms are among the worst I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to use. But the germs aren’t even the worst part; it’s the self-consciousness around doing what you actually have to do.

I can’t go through a school day without using the restroom at least once. A 7-hour day with the amount of water I drink? There’s no possibility I can wait until I get home. I’ve had many conversations with peers about our bathrooms, most of them stating, “I will never use a school bathroom,” for sanitary reasons. A junior girl said, “I think it’s dirty and I feel unclean being in there”. But I know their real fear.

No one wants to be identified for pooping in school. In an average stall, you can see people’s feet. Someone could recognize your shoes. Someone could be waiting on you to do their own business, and when you exit the stall you’ve spent so much time in, you make extremely awkward eye-contact. This phenomenon is what I refer to as being “poop-shy”.

I am quite open with my friends. They know if I’m going to the bathroom for this reason, because most of the time I tell them. I think it’s comedic to let them know what I’m doing because of how rare it is for someone to “do their business” in school. But how did I get here?

In my underclassman years, I was not this carefree. I have come to understand the effort put into holding out until after school, or running down the street to Donut Delight to use the private bathroom,is not worth it. I have learned to deal with the social stigma and the fear of germs. After four years of high school, I can say I’ve conquered poop-shyness.

Here is my advice to fellow students experiencing poop-shyness. First, understand that Stamford High’s bathrooms will never be as clean as your house’s bathroom. No matter how disinfected, the appearance and aesthetic of the bathroom will always make it appear unclean because it’s a stall. This is essential to accept, and I am the cleanest person I know. The issue of being poop-shy has elevated this past year with the school’s recent implementation of hallway sweeps. One student said, “People have picnics on the bathroom floor”. The bathrooms have evolved into a social spot, and are steering away from their rightful use. The mass increase of people in the bathroom who aren’t there to actually use the bathroom creates more discomfort. I’ve walked into a bathroom and walked right back out after seeing how many people are in there; whether they’re gossiping, eating, or smoking. My advice to you is to ignore these people as you ignore the publicly affectionate couples in the hallways. They’re not there to use the bathroom for its rightful purpose, but you are.

I think to myself, if people can’t even do something their body requires them to do without feeling shame, how can they ever be themselves? Maybe not being poop-shy isn’t the greatest example… maybe I am too personal with some information. But high school is rough, everyone knows it. There are many things a high school student has to deal with other than what I already listed, like anxiety and other mental health disorders. The least of everyone’s worry should be whether another person will judge them for pooping. Approximately one minute of confidence in the Stamford High bathroom will change your perspective forever; because if you can conquer our bathroom, you can conquer anything.