Let it go

Take me AwayImage by Lori Joan

Maybe it’s just the collection of blogs I read today, but an underlying spirit or tone nettled me: defensiveness, aggressively asserting one’s identity against the nay-sayers.

It got me thinking.

Sometimes I fight imaginary windmills too, when I go for a run or take a shower or drive a long way alone. My mind crafts the ideal conversation or lists the things I would say or do under selective, grounded circumstances. I come off quite well in those imaginary encounters with hostile opponents.

Because I write, sometimes I’m tempted to dress down the imagined reader even though I know that my audience is usually peopled with those sympathetic to my point of view. A bit of a lop-sided conversation – my loud voice against their silent one. But wow does it sometimes feel so good to do just that!

Maybe it’s my age, maybe I’ve read too much Internet in the last 20 years (a bit like the Berenstain Bears “Too Much Birthday”). I have less stomach for that practice—the strongly worded proclamation of belief or personality to the audience that doesn’t ‘get me’.

Even as I understand the concerns of those who would question my choices, I can still feel in my nerve-endings how satisfying it is to finally “get the well-defended thoughts into words” out of my head and off my chest and aimed at the nay-sayers.

So perhaps this status update is my counter-weight to my readings today and my old propensities, but I offer these thoughts to consider if you are feeling a little less brave as a homeschooler or parent or educator or adult—if some of your conversations leave you unconfident or jarred or filled with “fighting words.”

Let it go.

What if “they” are right? What if you aren’t meeting your expectations, let alone theirs?

Or what if you aren’t meeting theirs, let alone YOURS?

What if some of the things “those other people” say are true?

You can take it, can’t you? You can go back to your life and think about what to do to address real issues that come up from time to time, right?

What if some of those comments are actually compliments in disguise?

We forget sometimes that this home education task is pretty darned daunting and we are pretty audacious to take it up. That’s why people are shocked. That’s why they take it upon themselves to scrutinize you or to say things like, “I could never be with my kids 24/7.” It’s not that they couldn’t, if they really thought about it. It’s that they do, in fact, admire you for doing it and you deserve that back-handed admiration. Enjoy it. Receive it.

As you find your way in the world, I’ve discovered (mostly by way of the “hard way”) that I get further in my life when I pay less attention to what other people say about me, and instead get busy doing what I know I should be doing, what I say I want to be doing.

The most appealing homeschooler to a non-homeschooling family is the one who has nothing to prove, enjoys all families, and relishes the chance to participate in the big world as a friend and fellow parent.

You are fine, as you are. You’ve picked a lifestyle that is non-conformist so you get the back-flow of curiosity and discomfort from the mainstream. Ultimately, you can though, let it go.

It probably took you some time to adjust your mindset to the idea of homeschooling. Extend that same grace to those in your life, as you can. Don’t share details with those who are unsafe or discourage you.

Your inner light and your real struggles humanize you to your family and friends, and make your homeschool both approachable, and, conversely, above reproach. People are drawn to real people, not cardboard cut-outs of unimpeachable characteristics. In other words, be yourself, as you are, as you homeschool.

It’s not up to you to protect the reputation of homeschooling as an institution. You don’t have to defend homeschool or make sure that your homeschool is a model or an example to others. You have nothing to prove, nothing to hide.

Let it go. Breathe it out. Float. Be. You’re okay.

Live the life you choose today, no matter what they say.

Cross-posted on facebook.

5 Responses to “Let it go”

  1. Sandra says:

    This was exactly what I needed tonight. Thank you for your words. Your blog has become my number place to go for encouragement these last months. I am in my 12 year homeschooling. I have an 11th grader and 6th grader this year. It amazes me how much I am still learning about them, myself and how our learning changes. We have been so blessed by finding Bravewriter and your blog. Thank you for being you and sharing your thoughts of this homeschool and parenting journey.

  2. Julie Bogart says:

    Thanks Sandra! Brava to you! 12 years is a good long time. Burn out and boredom are common at this stage. As I love to say: Keep going. You will find what you need on the way.


  3. Samantha Jacokes says:

    Great post! As a new homeschooler to a 2nd grader and a 4th grader I am constantly answering questions (which I don’t mind) but also feel like I”m defending our choice a lot. We live in an area with great schools, great teachers etc, so I think a lot of people feel like we are “snubbing” the school or we’re “too good for” the school. That’s not the case! We just wanted to try something a little different than mainstream education.

    We are trying out Jot it Down, Partnership Writing, AND The Arrow starting next week! (Already read Brave Writer and will start w/the communication game on Wednesday!) Can’t wait. 🙂

  4. Julie Bogart says:

    Fantastic! Simply be yourself, validate the choices of others and support them, and offer your own doubts and struggles. That’s all it takes. 🙂

  5. […] some blogs she enjoys and found some healthy advice about avoiding fights with windmills at bravewriter.com. This particular read would not have hit me so hard had it not been for both the above experience […]