Why Are Homeschoolers Weird?

Here’s something I like to do: When I’m with a group of people discussing our childhoods, such as where we went to school, sports we played, etc., I’ll say something like “Did you know any weird homeschooled kids?”

People will often say some of the stereotypical things about homeschooled kids.  Things like: they’re odd ducks and socially awkward; they make their own clothes and electricity.  I’ll usually throw in a few wisecracks like “Oh, and they don’t bathe” or “they’re usually freaks!”.

Then, once everyone has poked fun at homeschoolers, I’ll say: “I was homeschooled.”

Silence.

The awkwardness is pure awesome.  But it’s true.  My mom homeschooled me until the seventh grade.

Inevitably someone will say, “Oh.  That.explains.a.lot.”

Wait a sec.  What does that mean?  I’m not offended, but over the years I’ve heard a number of commonly believed things about homeschoolers.  Some are true, others are blatantly ignorant.  Like anything, there are pros and cons.

I don’t know about other homeschoolers, but here are a few “pros” homeschooling gave me:

  • The realization I could teach myself anything.  I think this is the most important gift my childhood education gave me.  This might be why I don’t understand what people mean when they say, “I don’t know how.”  I have a hard time understanding how this is possible, especially with the accessability of information (have you heard? they have internet on computers now!).
  • How to interact with adults.  This came in handy years later as I made my way through my first few jobs, and while starting a company in my late teens and another in my early 20’s.  I never really felt out of place (in fact, I usually felt more at home with older people).
  • How (and why) to work at something I love.  My first passion was music.  It required hard work, dedication, and sacrifice — but I saw results.  Being exposed to this cause-and-effect dynamic equipped me for the work required by entrepreneurship.  In addition, I was blessed with the gift of learning that fulfillment can be found in doing something you love, despite the hard work.

Those are just a few of the things I believe to be true about my homeschooling experience.  Each of these things have deeply impacted me.  Now that my wife and I have a child of our own, we’ve discussed what kind of schooling experience we want to give our daughter, and whether homeschooling might be an option for us.

What about you?  Do you think homeschoolers are weird?  If so, why?

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Success Factors No One Talks About: How The # of Yucky Convos You’re Willing to Have Is Strangely Correlated w/Your Success

In order to move forward, whether it be your organization, your project team, or even a personal relationship, I’ve found that it takes leaning into uncomfortable, yucky conversations to really take steps forward.

You know the types of conversations I’m talking about, right? The ones you dread. The ones that keep you up at night. The ones you’d rather fast-forward through and not have to live through in real-time. But what I have found time and time again, is that when we’re willing to lean into those uncomfortable conversations … we end up obtaining real progress.

And when we realize that forcing ourselves through these conversations is directly correlated with our success, great things can happen.

Progress that changes the quality of our life. Progress that improves the ability you have to get things done, like make better software, strengthen your relationship with a business partner, or improve your marriage. The alternative is ugly. Not having these conversations can make you miserable, as they can suck up enormous amounts of brain energy if left unaddressed. Not to mention the stories we create in our minds about the other person and their motives!

Here’s what I’ve found helpful in getting myself geared up for (and having) these types of conversations:

  • Have talking points.  Write them down, think about their order, and if you’re disciplined, use some mental imagery to imagine yourself delivering them.  Work through the most extreme and uncomfortable situations in your head.  The act of playing scenarios out in your head in advance can do amazing things.
  • During the conversation, have an outlet for that nervous, yucky energy.  Have you felt this?  Sometimes during a meeting it’s just plain awkward.  I’ve found that it is good to have a release of this tension, but it’s usually not socially appropriate to punch a wall.  Instead, here’s a tip: curl your toes tightly in your shoe.  No one can see you do it, but I’ve found that it helps release that energy.  You look calm on the surface, but inside that shoe it’s another story!
  • Put your conversation in perspective.  For example, talking to that team member about how they’re not meeting your expectations — is it really that bad?  Sometimes I’ll imagine a much more difficult scenario.  What if I were a doctor, having to tell a mother that her child has passed?  In view of that type of conversation, my fears will sometimes subside.

What about you: have you noticed that when you’re willing to have uncomfortable conversations, you actually move forward?  Have you noticed that people who seem to make stuff happen are the ones who don’t seem to mind having yucky conversations?

(Or maybe they do mind, but are just curling their toes!)

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