10 Things Only Former Catholic School Students Will Understand, Because Plaid Skirts Were Just The Beginning

When you've survived Catholic school, you'll often find that upon meeting someone else who grew up in the parochial school system, you instantly have so much to talk about — from the crazy dress code rules to the strange sense of nostalgia you may have about your alma mater. Everyone else in the room may look at you in confusion as you discuss the nonexistent sex ed classes and your lingering Catholic guilt, but that's totally normal. Because only those of us who have survived Catholic school can truly understand.

Despite the stereotypes, most Catholic school kids aren't that different from their public school peers. Sure, at my school there was one super religious clique — but other than that, you just had your usual high school kids divided up into groups based on their interests, whether they were art, sports, drama, or smoking weed. What is totally different about Catholic school is the strange set of rules and standards, provided by the administration, that you somehow viewed as totally normal. (Hey, in our defense, we didn't have much to compare it to at the time).

So if you went to Catholic school and survived, these 10 things will probably hit (painfully) close to home:

1. You Prayed Multiple Times A Day, Every Day (Even If You Didn't Want To)

At my school, the rule was to pray before every subject in elementary school and every class period in high school. Of course, some teachers were more concerned with, you know, teaching their subject than praying, so we didn't always end up praying eight times a day. (Catholic school kids can be rebels and same goes for the teachers!) Still, at my high school and many others there was morning prayer, third period prayer, and last period prayer, and those were conducted over the intercom so there was really no escape. You went through the motions, lest you risk eternal damnation (or detention, which was almost as bad), but how much praying can a person seriously do?! It still boggles the mind.

2. You Spent A Lot Of Time Protesting The Dress Code

My freshman year of high school, some bright individuals got the idea to go to the vice principal and point out that it was unfair that boys be required to wear blazers but not girls. We all assumed that we would then live happily ever after in a blazer-free school. The result? The next year, girls got to join in the fun of wearing an ill-fitting blazer every day. And don't even get me started about all the lobbying student government had to do just so that we be allowed to wear two-inch heels to school.

3. You Got A Detention At Least Once For Having Your Shirt Untucked

If you survived twelve years (or heck, even one) of Catholic school and this never happened, my hat goes off to you.

4. You Still Suffer From Catholic Guilt

Even if you chose a different religious path, the Catholic guilt seeps into your life, still sloshing around in your subconscious. Did you become an atheist? It doesn't matter — you'll still sometimes wonder if that non-existent god is watching (and silently pray for forgiveness).

5. WWJD Bracelets

WWJD bracelets were the accessory in elementary school. You owned them in every color of the rainbow. And, if you were super cool like me, you may have even owned a t-shirt or a keychain. We don't seem to have gotten so nostalgic for the '90s that we're busting out our old WWJD bracelets yet, but hey, there's still time.

6. You Were Told To "Leave Room For The Holy Spirit" While Slow Dancing

You, unlike your public school friends, know that the phrase "leave room for the Holy Spirit!" is not simply something that's used in the movies and on sitcoms. Grinding could cause you to get pregnant and die (or so your sex ed led you to believe), so seriously — let the Holy Spirit in there.

7. You Probably Had At Least One Major Pregnancy Scare (While Still A Virgin)

The sex ed at your school was seriously lacking — which may have resulted in at least one major pregnancy scare while you were still very much a virgin. After doing anything beyond kissing, those of us who were into guys found ourselves frantically googling all the possible ways you could get pregnant without actually having sex. And the Internet probably wasn't very much help, thanks to all those fun pregnancy myths out there. When you got your period, you'd never been happier... at least until the next time you let your boyfriend touch your boob and the cycle began again.

8. You Stopped Thinking It Was Weird That Your School Was Shaped Like A Cross

I mean, why wouldn't it be? Why are you looking at me funny when I tell you this?

9. You Developed A Serious Shopping Problem Once You Graduated

Graduation meant more than a diploma and the culmination of 12 years of hard work — it meant joining the world of no school uniforms! There was just one problem — after 12 years of Catholic school, you didn't own a whole lot of clothes that weren't either completely casual or super dressy. And so you went on your first "back to school" shopping spree that actually included clothes... but it didn't stop there. The possibilities were endless — after all, you could choose your own outfit 365 days out of the year! By the end of freshman year of college, you'd racked up an impressive amount of jeans, sweaters, cute dresses and un-cute credit card debt.

10. Despite It All, You Know Catholic School Had Its Upsides

You can mock your Catholic school experience, of course. But you find yourself defending parochial schools when the topic comes up. Because, despite the crazy dress code and ridiculous rules, it's where you met some of your best friends and a few amazing teachers — not to mention one or two nuns who weren't afraid to defy stereotypes by doing things like cursing and proclaiming their disdain for President Bush (yes, really). You know that Catholic school wasn't just the stereotypical experience we see in movies or TV; it was a part of what's made you you. But yeah, you could have done with a few less detentions.

Images: NBC, bertknot/Flickr; Giphy (9)

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