Amelia Landenberger on – peeing yourself in public

When I was four my parents took me to dance classes. I remember very little from those classes- being that I was so young- however, I do distinctly remember two things. The first being the clear memory of me clinging desperately to my bedpost while my patient mother tried to coax me into the car. I would kick, scream, and cry all the way to those dance classes. The funny thing is I have no recollection whatsoever of actually disliking the class itself, so why did I hate going?

The answer can be found in my second memory from that class, which, unfortunately, is of me being too nervous to ask to go to the bathroom and peeing myself, in front of the entire class, in my tutu, all over the linoleum floors.
It was a real shame. That tutu looked fabulous on me. I think that’s when my mom gave up on dragging me to class.
I regret not being able to speak up and ask to go to the bathroom. But most of all I regret quitting.

So how does a story about me peeing myself in public relate to my life now? Probably in more ways than I’d like to admit. But I’ll speak to just one.

It relates because you never seem to grow out of the war between your rational and irrational brain. I had the privilege of taking dance classes. I know that not everyone got that same privilege. And yet I couldn’t get over the irrational fear of spending even one second out of my comfort zone. So does that make me ungrateful? Sure.
But again, I was four, and what four year old isn’t ungrateful and covered in their own urine?

And now, years later, while much more in control of my bladder, I struggle with the same issues. I know that being able to pick up and leave school to travel around Europe with some of my best friends, learning new things and being welcomed into to people’s homes as if I were family is the opportunity of a lifetime! And everyone has told me how lucky I am. So why, when I stepped out of the airport in Madrid did I have to fight back tears? Why did I wish I could quit being an au pair and go home just like I had quit dance lessons?

It’s because everyone has a rational and irrational voice in their heads, and both of mine are SCREAMING at each other. Now, I don’t have a solution to this issue. And I’m not here to complain about being homesick when others would kill to be in my position. I’m just here to share a small piece of advice that I’m currently trying to practice myself:

Asking to go to the bathroom is always less embarrassing than peeing yourself in public. Or in other words, comfort is an indulgence that will most likely lead to disaster.

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