In spite of how much I complained while I was there, going to Catholic school was pretty great. Between the tight-knit sense of community, close relationships with teachers and staff, and super long holiday breaks (why didn't we have school on Easter Monday again?), I wouldn't trade my seven years of Catholic education for the world. However, I had a VERY different experience from my public school friends. Here are some of the most memorable experiences all "Catholic school survivors" have in common.
1. The inner panic you felt when you heard the words "uniform check".
You're acutely aware that your skirt is supposed to come down your kneecaps, your shirt has to be tucked in, and your socks have to be white with no logos...but what fun is that? So, you get a little bit creative by breaking out your colorful scarves, rolling your skirt, and sneaking bright pink anklet socks into your dress shoes. Everything is just fine and dandy until your teacher pulls out a clipboard and tells the class to line up.*cue internal screaming*
2. Having the same teachers year after year.
Remember your Social Studies teacher from 6th grade? Yup. He's back. And this time, he's teaching your English Literature class. You weren't surprised to see the same teacher's name pop up on your schedule every year, and it was great if you liked them. If you didn't get along, though, that was an entirely different story.
3. Trying not to fall asleep in all-school Mass.
So technically you were supposed to pay attention during Mass and be engaged in the service. But you'd heard this same exact homily so many times, and the priest had been droning on in a monotone voice for fifteen minutes now. If you closed your eyes for just a second, you risked falling into a deep sleep and being woken up by a not-so-happy nun or teacher during the Our Father.
4. Being told to "leave room for the Holy Spirit" during school dances.
My personal favorite was "an arm's length away keeps temptation at bay." You were both probably too sweaty to be that close together anyway.
5. Getting nervous before confession and forgetting what you were going to tell the priest.
You had been reflecting on your "sins" all day, debating whether or not to tell the priest about the time that you stole your sister's favorite shirt and spilled pizza sauce on it. The second your plaid skirt hits the chair and "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned" comes out of your mouth, your mind goes completely blank. So, you just make something up and get out of there as fast as you can.
6. The unhealthy amount of tension surrounding the Christmas pageant (or your school's equivalent).
Honestly? I'm still a little mad I never got picked to be Mary.
7. Comparing the crosses (blobs) of ash on your foreheads on Ash Wednesday.
Nothing was worse than walking back to your seat and just knowing whoever gave you your cross messed it up. And you couldn't rub it off without feeling just a little guilty, either.
8. Suffering through gross school lunches on Fridays during Lent.
Meatless Fridays usually weren't so bad, so long as they involved pizza or grilled cheese. But things got interesting when your school cafeteria decided to dust off those year-old cans of tuna and whip up something extra special.
9. Being ridiculously excited...
...or absolutely horrified for out-of-uniform days.
Not having to wear a uniform was your big chance to show your classmates your killer sense of fashion. But since you wore a uniform every day, chances were your wardrobe was a little sparse. At least no one would remember that you wore the same outfit for dress down day three weeks ago.
10. Learning absolutely nothing in Sex Ed (if you even had it).
More than likely, you just spent a few hours stuck in a classroom with a sad, burnt out teacher desperately trying to control twenty fifth graders giggling at the word "puberty."
11. Making friendships that will last your whole life.
Maybe it was being forced to be together every day for over a decade, or maybe it was enduring the weirdness of Catholic School, but the friends you made will always be by your side. Even if you're a thousand miles away from each other now, you can always count on your grade school gal pals.