Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Schoolgirl fantasies

If you haven't already heard, I went to an all-girls high school.

Cue the fantasies of short skirts, pillow fights and ponytails.

Sadly, that's a distant stretch from reality.

My time at an all-girls high school was the most emotionally challenging period of my life. I was bullied. I struggled with my weight, sense of self and appearance on a level that was far beyond the realm of typical teenage growing pains.

I'm still haunted by images of arriving at school with my parents and crying in the car, begging to stay home for just one more day.

I hated high school, and I think the emotional strain would have been less severe if we had boys at our school.

Which is why I can't immediately embrace this idea of all-girl preschools.

I won't argue with claims that single-sex classrooms boost test scores. My high school had a rigorous academic curriculum that laid the foundation for skills that dominate my career.

But at the same time, I developed a certain social ineptitude -- treating men as rare endangered species and approaching women with the assumption they'd eventually become my social and academic rivals.

Naturally, it all evened out. I matured, befriended my former high school rivals on Facebook and watched my sister attend the same high school and love it.

And as much as I complain about my high school experience, I now navigate professional life as a 29-year-old woman who's not intimidated by talk of gender disparities in the workplace.

Maybe those pillow fights paid off after all.