When you tell someone you attended an all-girls catholic high school, you can see their eyes flood with curiosity and critique: “how did she survive the drama?” “is she even capable of socializing with boys?” “does that mean she’s a lesbian?” Mostly you can see confusion as to how someone could live four years without testosterone bouncing off the classroom walls.
While single sex education may have some downfalls, attending an all-girls high school was the best decision of my life. For four years, my education was focused on empowering women. I quickly learned not to fear raising my hand, to challenge other’s opinions, as well as to challenge my own. There are countless lists online with titles such as “10 things you’ll only know if you went to an all-girls school.” These always make me laugh because they ring so true; “does anyone have a tampon?” is echoed through the hallway on a daily basis, there seems to be a bake sale for various events every day, I wore sweatpants to school on a regular basis. While these aspects are hilariously accurate, there is something more that makes an all-girls education so special.
Having a group of girl friends who know what you’re feeling with one look should never be taken for granted. While it’s easy to be caught up in school, work, romantic relationships, and family drama, having a solid group of friends, even if it’s just one or two people, is a game changer. Too many times I have heard girls say that they only hang out with boys to “avoid the girl drama.” In these cases I’ve wanted to grab them by the shoulders and shake them, screaming “DO YOU KNOW HOW DRAMATIC BOYS CAN BE.” Nothing makes me more frustrated then girls discounting good female friendships.
The cattiness that people expect from female relationships rarely occurred. Instead, my peers were constantly lending a shoulder, a tissue, a snickers bar, or a pencil. These kinds of connections led to an awesome learning space. Class conversations were constantly redirected when pressing current events needed to take precedent. From the first day I was taught what it meant to be a feminist, and as the four years passed I learned to be angry with injustice, and then how to best channel that anger. From my fellow students I was educated on the importance of intersectionality and recognizing my privilege, from my teachers I learned the work of Maya Angelo and how to critically read A Tale of Two Cities. We were never left uninformed and we were never looked down on by our teachers, our contributions were just as valid. This was an environment for us to grow not just as students, but as young women and tomorrow’s leaders. It was a place where the arts were valued as much as athletics, and academics were paralleled with social justice.
While most dream of the day they get to leave high school, I feared that I would never be as happy anywhere else. I’m happy to report that I was wrong. While leaving my school was hard, the skills I learned from my teachers and peers made moving on to University all the more exciting. My education’s emphasis on social justice and forming relationships help me every single day. I feel confident raising my hand even if the answer has not completely formed in my head, I know that I am capable of taking risks and not failing, and I am confident that it is possible to write a ten page research paper in a night (though not recommended).
All this being said, I still have no clue what I’m doing with my life. It’s terrifying but I’ve accepted it. I’ve accepted that my goals and aspirations will constantly change and that this is okay. I am lucky to have so many strong females in my life who have shown me there are numerous ways to be a successful women. Right now I’m focusing on having fun in this new stage of my life, exploring my options, and testing different waters. Wherever my future career and life choices take me, the groundwork that an all-girls education gave me has shown that I never need to settle.