I was 17 and in the final weeks of Year 12. But there was something very important my Catholic high school needed to do before we were fully prepared to enter the real world as grown up, independent disciples of Christ:
A religious retreat.
There was a lot of weird s**t that went down. We ate a lot of biscuits, which made me constipated. We drank a lot of cordial. We washed the hands of other girls we'd had fights with, because forgiveness.
Quick pit stop: Have a listen to this episode of Mamamia Outloud, where Mia, Jessie and Holly discuss Pete Evans & The Butterfly Effect. Post continues after podcast.
Then a teacher had us all sit in a big circle. She explained that as we went through our lives, we'd have to go on job interviews and present ourselves nicely, which was okay, because God had made us all beautiful in our own unique ways.
She then went around the circle and proceeded to tell each of us what our most beautiful feature was?? But it was awkward because she clearly had to have a bit of a think when she got to me, and then she'd stop at someone else and laugh, 'I mean, you could be on Australia's Next Top Model'.
Did this have anything to do with Jesus? I don't... think so. But it's just one example of the experiences you have at a Catholic school and don't question until 3am on a random Tuesday when it hits you: what... the f**k... was that.
In hindsight, the 'here's what I think is pretty about you' chat was one of the more normal things that happened throughout my Catholic school education. It probably had far more to do with internalised misogyny than religion. But then there were... these.
What and for why?