Imagine that you feel completely comfortable in yourself. You’ve never been teased. Your interests are all embraced and supported, never labelled dorky or uncool. You can wear whatever clothes you like, even your self-made recreation of a 19th-century bustle dress, and feel completely content.
You’d never had to create a socially acceptable shell around yourself, a layer of emotional armour, to protect yourself from difficult people and situations that you had no way of avoiding or escaping. You could just be you, all the time.
In short, you are your authentic self.
Judging by the self-help industry, many adults struggle to be authentic. You can buy books, do courses, and get coaching on how to discover your interests, how to let your unique personality shine, and how to love yourself. In other words, how to be yourself (and not hate yourself for it).
Why do so many people not know themselves, the person they spend 24-7 with?
School destroys authenticity
Obviously, it would be unfair to lay ALL the blame on school. But I think it deserves a fair portion of it.
School is a pressure-cooker environment that encourages conformity. Most of us spend 12-odd years in the pressure cooker, being teased and ostracised for wearing the ‘wrong’ clothes, having ‘uncool’ hair, or for enjoying ‘dorky’ pastimes like reading, chess or knitting. Children learn to bury those parts of themselves that are socially unacceptable and cram themselves into a persona that fits the norm, as much as they can.
And when they emerge from the other end they’re unsure of who they really are under the armour of social acceptability they’ve built, and unsure of how to dig their deeply buried self out.
People call that ‘socialisation’. I call it hell. (This is why homeschoolers roll their eyes when they’re asked about socialisation).
Homeschooled kids don’t need to bury themselves in the first place. They’re weird because they’re being themselves.
Welcome to homeschooling, and the weird, authentic children it nurtures.
My five children have never been teased. They have a combined age of 51, so that’s quite impressive. Just think – NEVER TEASED. Never made to feel embarrassed about who they are, what they like, or how they look. They unashamedly pursue their interests with excitement, and no shame. Recently we’ve been hanging out with retirees, learning bobbin lace. Hugely dorky and uncool. But no-one’s ever told them that, so they’re having a great time.
Here’s how my homeschooled kids are weird.
- They don’t care what people think. They do what they like, not just what’s popular.
- They find the idea that some people tease and ostracise others both outrageous and mystifying.
- They’re not embarrassed by their parents (and we can be pretty embarrassing), or other adults – they actually have adult penfriends.
- They’ll play with kids (and adults) of all ages and abilities – they don’t snob younger children and worship older ones. They have friends with autism, physical disabilities, and from other cultures, and there’s no issues at all. They get along with each other pretty well most of the time too. There’s virtually no sibling rivalry or competition in our house.
- They act their age – adulthood is just another stage of life to them, childhood isn’t something to escape ASAP, and they don’t understand why other tweens are so keen to wear makeup and try to look and act older.
- They can hold intelligent conversations with any person, of any age (no acting silly to try to impress, and no grunting).
- They won’t unquestioningly follow orders from any adult. You’d better earn their respect or give them a good reason, or your orders will receive a polite, ‘No thanks’.
These features are pretty standard among homeschooled kids. I remember the first homeschooled teens I met – I sat there having intelligent, interesting conversation with them for hours, and my jaw just kept on dropping. It was one of the events that really cemented my commitment to homeschooling.
If my teenagers could be real people I wanted in.
All of those attitudes that the school child is indoctrinated into are pretty ridiculous, when you think about it. Why think your family is dorky? Why only like people in limited age groups? Why play social mind games?
It’s not what I want to become our normal.
Not what you’re happy to accept as your normal either? Share the images below and celebrate your weirdness!