It's time I tell you a bit about myself I've been scared to tell. I'm an 18-year-old graduated home school student who recently barely passed the driver's test and is going to college next year. I was scared this information would make me more easily locatable to stalkers...I'm paranoid, ok? I was also scared because I'm a bit older than most bloggers I follow, and I didn't want them to think I was weird or too old to relate to. It's possible to relate to people of any age, so it doesn't matter, but I'm a child emotionally and, some would say, physically since they keep mistaking me for a 13-year-old. I'm just short with a very round face, ok? I was also scared because I blog a lot about my shortcomings, and I don't want anyone to use me to form a negative image of homeschoolers. This is silly of me because I've never actually met anyone who treated me differently after knowing I was homeschooled. I've only heard horror stories from other homeschoolers about how badly they get stereotyped. Some people probably do look down on homeschoolers, but I've never believed the world did. A couple days ago, though, I saw some ignorant comments on how shy and unintelligent homeschoolers are. I usually wouldn't think about it, but it's been eating at me and I don't know why. In a few days, I probably won't care, but right now, I want to rant.
Maybe those comments made me fear that the world really does see me negatively. Probably more than that, though, those comments bugged me because they were partly true of me. I'm not dumb. (I got A's in almost all my high school classes, took advanced classes, scored in the top percentiles on my standardized tests, etc.) I am, however, shy.
I wasn't always awkward around strangers. I was very outgoing (and quite the fake) until I suffered a few traumatic events in quick succession near the start of my teenage years. I'm getting better. I talk to waiters, store clerks, and most other people easily and without blushing. I do still feel awkward when someone tries longer conversations with me. I don't want to waste the time making superficial connections. I need to know it's going to be a true friendship where I can divulge my deepest, darkest secrets and expect acceptance. Anyway, being shy is not wrong. Even if it were - and it's not - I'm NOT shy because I'm homeschooled. I know many outgoing homeschoolers. I'm shy because I am who I am, I've suffered a bit, and I've come to realize I'm quiet and mellow at heart, which is hard when people expect you to be upbeat and outgoing to somehow prove you're "normal." Which is another reason I avoid people: they expect behavior from me they have no right to expect. (Besides, people are so stupid sometimes I just can't stand them.) It's not right to hate shy people, to say they're shy because they're homeschooled, or to use a homeschooler's shyness to fuel a stereotype. Those bigots don't even know me.
I suppose I shouldn't feel so bad. Being ANYONE would subject me being stereotyped. I admit, when I was younger, I pictured public schoolers as pregnant and/or potheaded dropouts and private schoolers as haughty, plaid uniform-wearing snobs. And maybe that was wrong, but when I came face to face with public and private schoolers, I never EXPECTED them to be that way. I wasn't picturing a stereotype. I was looking at the people in front of me and learning who they were, word by word. I could separate fact from flanderization without even thinking. I know many different kinds of people. I know more public schoolers than private schoolers, but I've met both. My siblings are and were public-schooled (they wanted to be), and I know most of their friends. I know kids from my time in school, extracurricular activities, various churches and workplaces, etc. I even know a number of pregnant and/or potheaded dropouts, but I haven't come to expect that or make fun of public schoolers for it. I know well-adjusted public schoolers as well. I'm very open-minded. Why can't everyone be as perfect as me, hmm?
To be clear, I went to public school for a couple years in elementary. It wasn't terrible, and it wasn't great. The school only taught information I already knew, and I was friends with the girls in my class but wasn't close to them. After those years, I had no preference one way or the other (I had few preferences back then anyway), and I ended up staying home. I enjoyed many aspects of homeschool. If I was ill, I could study in bed, make myself apple cider, and not even call in sick. I learned a lot more, could go at my own pace, and took subjects usually not taken in my grade. I didn't have to worry about superficial appearances, which would surely have distracted me from school. I didn't have to deal with peer pressure. Everyone has days they want to cry, and I was able to deal with mine at home, out of sight of the public, which made it easier. I was able to develop my own beliefs and morals based on raw information, I was able to stand up for my beliefs because I wasn't constantly cowed, and I was able to live up to my morals and not be asked to smoke, drink, party, flirt, etc. I developed into a real person, not a fake. And this is very important: I didn't have to deal with bullies. This is also silly of me, because through all my time in public school, I never encountered a bully. A couple girls talked crap behind the others' backs, but I didn't even care back then. (I probably would have cared later on, after I became more sensitive and shy.) Still, I remember bullies better than most of the elements in those ridiculous, over-the-top school sitcoms and less-over-the-top real life accounts. I never came across a bully, and maybe I never would have, but for all I know, it's worse in high school than elementary. I'm extremely sensitive. I don't know how I would have handled being pushed around and called names. I can barely handle being ignored.
You see, the past two or three years, I took online classes mostly populated by other homeschoolers. I had quality classes and teachers but not the best experience with the other students. My mind exaggerates negative experiences, so when I think about it rationally, most of the students weren't bad, especially the ones I actually had classes with, and I still get emails every couple of months from three classmates, all boys. Some students were very pleasant, but they rarely stayed in contact with me for long, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Online schools are different because you communicate using email, chats, and other means, but it's sort of the same principal. They dropped correspondence with me. That was hurtful. However, only the hardcore socialites really ignored me. They were outrageously outgoing and friendly to everyone else but never reached out to me. I believed it an innocent overlook for a while, but I reached out to them with no response or only the obligatory polite one and no follow up. I remember only one girl who struck up a conversation with me first. She didn't last long, but I still think she was sweet. I'm not sure why many of them froze me out. Perhaps it was because I held wildly different opinions than they. Nevertheless, I went nuts trying to figure out how to make them notice me. During that time, I realized how much I needed people to like me in order to feel valuable, and I've been working on that ever since. I was hurt back then, though, and it may have contributed to how depressed I was last year, how badly I did in school. (I got A's in all but one class, but I wasn't doing my best, and usually, I'm a perfectionist.) I did badly for another reason: I didn't think I was going to college. I forgot to mention this in my Being Depressed post, but I saw no reason to try at academics when I couldn't make a career out of it as I was Mediocre at Most. I changed my mind and am now going to college, but when I read those anti-homeschooler comments, I felt like I might have to hide the fact that I even considered not attending or I'd lend fuel to the negative homeschooler image. But I refuse to hide it. I am what I am, I'm not a stereotype, and I have to be honest.
The way some bigots talk, it's like one has to be perfect at EVERYTHING or risk the reputation of their entire group. It's like if some guy pointed at me and said, "Girls can't drive." It's true I can't drive well, but it's not because I'm a girl. It's wrong to use me, or any person, to support a negative view of a group of people, because each individual is composed of a million personal experiences, the complete collection of which no other person in their group has had. I usually don't make a big deal out of this homeschooling issue. I usually don't even think about it, but today, I had to get this rant off my chest.