Twice today, someone stared at me and said something along the lines of, “You aren’t very shy, are you?”
And twice today, I opened my mouth to deny it but ended up saying, “No, I’m not.”
The questioners didn’t probe further but if they had, I would have answered,
“I’m not shy. You see, I was homeschooled.”
Although homeschooling has become more mainstream, a definite stereotype exists about homeschoolers. And as far as I know, “not shy” is not one of them. (Unless you count socially awkward as not shy?) But really, I owe a great deal of my “non-shyness” to the fact that I was homeschooled. Here are 3 ways homeschooling made me a confident adult:
- No peer pressure. From a young age, I learned to like myself for who I was. There was no one to tell me different. Oh, sure, sometimes I felt quirky when around other kids my age. But I also made friends who shared the same interests and values as me, most of them homeschooled too. I think a huge reason I’m “not shy” is that I’m simply confident in who I am, and that is in great part thanks to the early lesson I had in being me. You don’t like me? Your loss! I like me
- Friends of all ages. When you don’t spend X number of hours a day with kids the same age as you, you don’t get the false idea that friends must be the same age as you. Old(er) people are your friends. Younger people are your friends. Your siblings are your friends. Your neighbors are your friends. Incidentally, this is one reason I think the “socialization” question is silly. You don’t stop being around people when you are homeschooled. You just get more opportunities to be around different types of people.
- Learning to deal with people early on. When you’re homeschooled, everyone has an opinion about your parents’ manner of raising you. Some people are more vocal about it than others. And those people can be very vocal. As far as I know, people don’t feel the need to ask public school kids if they have friends or if they use books. Yet I bet almost any homeschooler has gotten some variety of both those questions…and countless more. So you know what homeschooling taught me? How to deal with rude, well-intended questions. It gives you thick skin. And if you gain that early on, it becomes part of your personality and very little in life can intimidate you. Certainly not strangers.
I realize this wasn’t everyone’s homeschooling experience. It looks different for every person. But for me, these three reasons represent some of the countless ways I’m grateful for the sacrifices my parents made to educate me at home. I can be “not shy.” I can be me.