Ah, homeschool: Not knowing whether you would see another human other than your mom for weeks at a time.
Those of us who graduated from homeschool and ventured to a public university were wide-eyed, awkward and felt like outsiders to a world of cable television and “secular music.”
But, much like every mutant from X-Men, we would soon find that we were not alone. Homeschoolers have swarmed our very society, taking on roles as actual, functioning, human citizens.
It may be hard to believe, but there are people who live among you, who look like regular people, but were, in fact, homeschooled. Yes, we eventually learned to blend in with society, but there were still blissfully gauche circumstances that only homeschoolers had to endure.
So whether you were homeschooled or know someone who was (you know you do), here are 12 things every homeschooler experienced:
1. Homeschool Groups Were Your Main Form of Socialization
Homeschool groups were a bright, shining star of hope in an otherwise unsocialized existence. A lot of homeschool groups arranged for qualified instructors to teach harder subjects like physics and algebra, but if you didn’t have access to “qualified” individuals, a mom who could read a curriculum was perfectly acceptable.
Not all homeschoolers were fortunate enough to be a part of a homeschool group, but those who were remember the rush of putting on real clothes in eager anticipation of seeing anyone close to their own age who wasn’t related to them.
2. You Have A Lot of Siblings
Of course, this wasn’t a homeschooling requirement, but most homeschool families pulled up to the church fellowship hall in a 10-passenger van and filed out like Russian nesting dolls. Though a large family essentially promised an endless stream of hand-me-downs, it would later come in handy when forced into situations where small talk essentially turned into sibling listing.
3. You Were Always at Church
When your social life consists of learning math in a church classroom once a week and helping your mom pick up wholesale groceries at Sam’s Club, you cling to church social outings like velcro. It didn’t matter if you were at a single mothers seminar, band practices or just watching the janitor buff the floors, if the doors were unlocked, you were in there.
4. You Kissed Dating Goodbye
I Kissed Dating Goodbye was pivotal literature in the lives of any church folk, but if you were homeschooled, it was practically required reading. Most homeschoolers weren’t even allowed to be alone in a room with a person of opposite gender let alone have a boyfriend or girlfriend. So, rather than having a difficult and probably nonsensical conversation about why we would be denied this right of passage, we would read I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
5. Your Mom Cut Your Hair and Made Your Clothes
Our generation of homeschoolers grew up without Pinterest and craft blogs. Moms were wildly unqualified to do 90 percent of the things they did, but they were willing to take a stab at anything that is usually best left to the professionals—resulting in a slew of unevenly cut bangs, home remedies, homemade jewelry and more.
Some kids looked like they had fashioned a dress from a burlap sack, gotten into a fight with a lawn mower and then rolled around in the beads section at Jo-Ann Fabrics. Yes, homeschoolers had to overcome major aesthetic hurdles to one day blend to society.
6. Your Friends Had Personalized Family Email Addresses
If you wanted to email a homeschooler, chances are you wouldn’t get a cute, punny version of their name or their favorite hobby with some numbers (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org). Instead, you would likely get the family email address that would be an academic institution with their last name incorporated. Yes, you’ve likely emailed JohnsonAcademy@aol.com and BittermanUniversity@earthlink.net—and hated every second of it.
7. Everything Was a Field Trip
When your mom is your main teacher, pretty much anything she feels like doing is considered a “field trip.” Going to the grocery store? How else are you going to get first-hand experience for nutrition class? Field trip. Going to the movies? Legally Blonde has more legal jargon than you would think. Field trip.
8. You Idolized Your Cool Cousins Who Went to Public School
It didn’t matter if they were Mathletes, AV club nerds or captain of the football team, if your cousins went to public school, they were the coolest. Maybe you even had cousins who got to wear one-piece swimsuits in public and listened to secular radio stations. You could have hung posters of them in your room and felt fine about it.
9. You Had No Idea What Yearbook Superlatives Were
Hardcore homeschoolers didn’t get yearbooks and didn’t have a graduating class to superlative-ize. They had to rely heavily on scrapbooking and home videos to capture sweet memories. Let’s be honest though, most of us would probably rather just forget.
10. You Never Experienced Prom
Since homeschoolers weren’t allowed to dance, proms were a definite no-go. But it wouldn’t be a weird subculture without creating a super lame alternative. Thus, you had prom-like gatherings where kids would dress up, get corralled into some sort of community or convention center and enjoy sugar-free fruit punch and salisbury steak. It was a little like going to dinner at your grandparents’ house, but with more taffeta and pocket squares and less fun.
11. You Were Overconfident About Weird Things
A lot of people think homeschoolers are awkward because they are shy from lack of social interactions. But people are shy because they are shy, not because of a lack of socialization. Homeschoolers are awkward because they are, surprisingly, overconfident. Because most of our days are spent in our homes with our families, we just assume that whatever is OK to do at home is also OK everywhere else. Most of us learn the hard way that this is not the case.
12. Your Fashion Sense Was a Bit Off
Denim frocks, scrunchies and similar things were cool when Bonnie Hunt wore them in the early ’90s, but they definitely were not cool when worn by 13-17 year-olds in 2006. And the list of things you weren’t allowed to wear was likely too long to recount. A personal favorite: Graphic tees. Most homeschool moms were in agreement with the “no shirts with anything remotely questionable on it” policy. And it didn’t even have to be offensive.