Catholic education impacted my view on myself

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Graphic by Jamie Mere

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7

From kindergarten until high school, I received a Catholic education.

I took required religion classes where I learned how Jesus died for my sins, I wore a uniform every day, I listened to the daily prayer reflection on the announcements from the chaplain and essentially was taught how to be a devout Catholic.

Now, this article is not one where I plan on trash-talking Catholic education — I actually think I got a really good education from my school, but I do think that the environment surrounding Catholic education is harmful to students.

Part of my grade ten final assignment for my religion class was to write a letter to a “confused teenager.”

This teenager was struggling with deciding whether to take the “next step” with her boyfriend in their relationship. I got 60 per cent on this help letter because I expressed to the girl that it was her body and, therefore, if she felt comfortable enough with her boyfriend it is her decision to make, and no one else’s.

Now I was a very good student in high school, I got good grades and strived to do well in school. So a 60 per cent was a grade that I was not just going to accept without knowing how I got it.

I asked my teacher after the project was done why I lost marks and my teacher expressed to me that it was specifically because I did not mention the fact that God wishes for people to remain abstinent until marriage.

This idea was instilled into my mind for as long as I could remember. In a sense, I was taught that my body wasn’t just my body but God’s body.

Looking back at that, it used to make me feel so uncomfortable in my own skin – ask anyone I went to high school with.

Since starting university, I have grown to be more comfortable with my body being my own, but the idea of starting a relationship is starting to scare me more.

I get very anxious when I hook up with people because I have been taught that my body is for one man and one man only. But I’m trying to get better at truly believing that my body is mine and I can decide for myself what I wish to do with it.

The oddest thing about this for me is that my parents never forced religion onto me if anything they always wanted me to be exposed to all walks of life.

I have the scary thought God will be disappointed in all of my life choices. I always thought the teachings were pretty good as well. I mean the main message of Christianity or the golden rule was to treat others the way you wish to be treated, something that I still live by to this day.

I think that since religion was tied into my education messed me up a bit.

For example, when I lost marks for that one project mentioned earlier it subliminally taught me that in order to be perfect and get good grades I had to agree with every single one of God’s teachings.

But there are a lot of things mentioned in the Bible that I don’t necessarily agree with.

Like how when Adam and Eve ate the apple Eve was condemned to a life of servitude to Adam.

I think that Catholic school is honestly a great thing, it taught me valuable lessons that I still use to this day. But I think marking children on more subjective viewpoints really does not help them in any way.

All it really did for me was make me a super anxious and guilt-ridden person.

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