Okay, so obviously being homeschooled doesn’t make a person any better or smarter than everyone else. But saying it did get you to read this blog, didn't it? Well, it most certainly doesn’t make you any cooler. Being homeschooled has a litany of its own issues. The first being this extremely overused and boring statement:
“Wait…you were homeschooled? Wow. I mean, I just wouldn’t have guessed that. You’re so, well, normal.”
That’s right, folks. I was homeschooled. No, I’m not a young genius, destined for the history books. Nor did I grow up friendless and alone. Aside from the fact that I got to do school (yes, ‘do’ school, not ‘go’ to school) in my pajamas, and I had a fairly normal childhood. Being homeschooled did, however, teach me a thing or two about life.
As with many things in life, there were both advantages and disadvantages to being homeschooled. As a homeschooler, I didn’t get to see my friends every day. I never participated in a competitive sport. I often don’t understand references that I would have otherwise learned in school. These just name a few of the things I missed out on in my younger years.
On the flip side, there were many things that I loved about being homeschooled. Not waking up at 6 a.m. was definitely one of those things. Not dealing with bullies and peer pressure was another. I firmly believe that I would not be the same person I am today if I hadn’t been homeschooled. There are many things that contribute to my current success and happiness that I learned by this method of education.
I would argue that independence is the single most important thing that I learned as a homeschooler. Of course I don’t attribute my independence to my education completely. After all, I’ve had an autonomous, stubborn, type A personality since the day I was born.
The type of independence I learned from being homeschooled is different. It is not inherent to being homeschooled, but instead it was derived from my individual education experience. My parents didn’t prepare lectures and PowerPoint’s for each class, structuring each day’s schedule. At the beginning of each week, my mom would give me a list of the things I needed to get done over the next five days. I would then take that list and plan out the week myself. By placing the responsibility on me, and trusting me to get things done, my parents empowered me to take ownership of my own life.
This type of ownership did not come without its kinks. My parents expected 100% out of all of us kids, and would not settle for less. There were times when I would be correcting and re-correcting my wrong math problems and poorly written papers for weeks.
This ownership has assisted me in many things in the years since I graduated. I am able to prioritize and plan because of it. I am able to balance my life and get things done. I am able to say no when needed. I am also able to say yes with certainty and enthusiasm. Now that I am older and have experienced a bigger world, I understand that this independence isn’t a given. It is a gift. One that I will always be thankful for.
Challenging the status quo
Being homeschooled in itself challenges the status quo. It should be no surprise that this makes the list, especially when I am in the cutthroat business of marketing. Much like being homeschooled, the marketing industry as a whole seeks to constantly challenge the status quo.
I am not a shy person. I have no qualms when engaged in a conversation about my ‘different’ upbringing. I am no stranger to skeptical looks and disapproving glares. No one breaks away from the status quo without a little criticism. Though I cannot speak for every homeschooler out there, I openly defend the concept of homeschooling.
Challenging the status quo and defending your stance is a vital skill to have in this industry. We are innovators and thinkers. We push boundaries and dream in new perspectives. What I have learned by defending my upbringing has proven to be an invaluable skill when translated into my daily life. I am able to rationalize my decisions, and defend my ideas.
I can usually do it with a smile too.
Bet you didn’t expect to see this one on the list, huh? Contrary to popular belief, being homeschooled did not wreak havoc on my interpersonal skills. Sure, I may never be a politician, but I think I’ve got the whole ‘people’ thing down. I attribute my people skills to being homeschooled.
When you meet someone for the first time, there are a few things that tend to spark a conversation. Work and hobbies are usually at the top of that list. Though my experience may be limited by my geographic location and age, I have found that at some point the conversation comes back to your education.
“Where did you go to school?”
“Were you in sports?”
“Graphic design, huh? Did you do a lot of art classes in school?”
The topic is almost inevitable. The reason behind this is simple. Going to a public or private school is largely a shared experience. Eventually, talking about weather and current events is going to run dry. When you have to dig a little deeper to prolong a conversation, you end up talking about your education. People want to relate to one another. One of the easiest ways to do this is by talking about experiences they have shared in their childhood.
Many would think that being unable to join in on this conversation is an extreme disadvantage. I disagree. I think that this is one of the most important contributing factors to my ability to communicate and get along with people. Because I can’t relate to another person in a nostalgic conversation about high school, I am forced to find different ways of relating. In order to sustain a conversation, I must broaden my horizons and discover different ways of communicating. This lends itself to communicating with people who did not grow up at the same time as you, in the same geographic location. I feel just as comfortable talking with a 75 year old as I do talking with someone my own age. I love to engage in conversations with people who experienced a radically different childhood from my own.
I believe that my upbringing has led me to truly listen to the people I meet. I have to work a little harder to strike up a conversation, but that conversation is so much more rewarding because of it.
Being homeschooled does not define me
Being homeschooled has only enhanced my life, if anything. I do not discredit any other method of education. Like I said before, being homeschooled has its ups and downs. I am simply grateful for my unique experience. My education has not ruled my life, but it certainly has been a contributing factor to the path I have chosen.
A deep love of art and design drives me as I navigate the ever-changing waters of marketing. I am constantly looking for new and better ways to give the inbound marketing methodology the beautiful face it deserves. As the Art Director, I ensure that all of the design work we produce is top notch and designed with a purpose. When I’m not trying to solve creative problems, my life revolves around my family and friends, my passion for music, and my addiction to stories.