Why I Am Proud of Myself: Philosophical Perspective’s Thoughts

Why I Am Proud of Myself: Philosophical Perspective’s Thoughts

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Philosophical Perspectives” is the author’s chosen pseudonym.

This is why I’m proud of myself.

This is not an article with arguments or nuanced thoughts, this is a declaration, for those of us who have survived.

I’m 27 years old, and I am so proud of myself.

My mom taught me to read when I was 5, and after that, I was mostly on my own.  Yes, she sought out volunteer experiences and free homeschool clubs for academic enrichment, but I had no formal education until college.

I grew up in a home where neglect was the norm.  My dad left for work in the morning, and my mom didn’t get out of bed until noon. As the oldest of three, it was my job to cook and clean, and make sure my siblings were “doing their school.”  What ability an eight year old has to make a 2 and 5 year old sit down and plow through math textbooks, I’ll never know.

My youngest sibling’s only memory of learning anything in his childhood was me, age 10, teaching him to read.

So, I’m proud of myself, because I was a voracious reader with a huge imagination and an incredible thirst for knowledge. I taught myself history, language arts, math, and science by sitting down and reading text books.

I was my own guidance counselor. As high school loomed, I knew I wanted to go to a “good college”.  So I read all of the rankings, and I figured out what I needed to learn to get where I wanted to go. I mapped out my four years of high school, asking my parents to enroll me in extension programs, community college, and co-ops. I figured out how homework worked, how to take tests, and how to build relationships with teachers so they would write me letters of recommendation.  I made sure I took math and science, because I couldn’t get those at home or through debate. I wrote tons of essays, so that I could write good applications for college. I worked 10 hours a week running a piano studio, so I could have my own spending money. I competed in the NCFCA, and won.  A lot.

I’m proud of myself, because I worked my ass off in high school, doing so much more than any of my peers. I had to figure out the system on my own, with no guidance or advice.

I’m proud of myself, because I had the drive and forethought and organization at seventeen, to call every university I wanted to apply to and ask their admissions counselors what extra information they would want, because I was homeschooled (and remember, this was 10 years ago, before homeschoolers in college was commonplace). I put together compelling and interesting application essays.  I figured out how to communicate the value of my education, by writing my own transcript and calculating my own GPA.  I had something like 10,000 volunteer hours by the time I graduated (for which I give my mom much credit). I applied for a won extremely prestigious scholarships, landing me in the top .01% of graduating high school seniors in the country, and beating out peers from prep schools who had parents, teachers, principals, and advisors prepping and nurturing them. I only had myself.

I got into a top five university, from which I earned a BA and MA in four years, and graduated with honors. I paid my way through college with no financial support from my parents. I now work for a nationally recognized organization, and am leading in their cross-cultural outreach.

I am so damn proud of myself.

Because, despite what the news articles would have you believe, I have not been successful because of my (lack of) education. I am thriving despite my homeschool experience. I have been successful because I have overcome every obstacle thrown in my path. I been smarter and worked harder than the vast majority of my non-homeschooled peers. I am tough, I am resilient, and I have already accomplished so much.

So yes, as I read and write and recall all of the bullshit I’ve lived through and coped with, I need to remember every once in awhile that I am overcoming it, and that is amazing.

I am not a homeschool success story.  I’m my own success story.

*****

Also by Philosophical Perspectives on HA:

How NCFCA Taught Me to Fight Sexism

Of Love and Office Supplies

A Tool In Someone Else’s Culture War

We Need Advocates

10 comments

  • Thank you for saying this! That was me too. When I graduated with highest honors, people said it was because of my homeschooling. It’s funny because in homeschool I never read literature, never wrote essays, and rarely studied history. Yet I excelled in literature and more specifically, critical writing. In high school I did study a lot of theology – and perhaps that thinking helped me – but none of that was my parents doing. I initiated it.

    I don’t mean to put my parents down, bu neither are they the reason I excelled. I did a lot of work to get out of my home.

  • This echoes a lot of my experiences. I had the same educational neglect, and I only had myself to get through middle school and high school. But, I’ve graduated with an MA, and I’m working at my dream job.

    I am my own success story.

    (So say we all).

  • Your story is an inspiration. I don’t know how you get around people claiming you are a homeschool success story.You succeeded in spite of the educational neglect. You had something to prove to the world. Succeeding in spite of adversity can be as powerful a motivator as succeeding because of something.

    I would be interested in hearing from you parents about what they were thinking. Did they have every intention of homeschooling you, and never got around to it, and one day led to the next, and all of the sudden you were 18. Change is hard, even change for the better. It would be embarrassing for a parent to admit they have messed up and they are not cut out to teach their children day in and day out after all. It would take effort to admit the failure and put the kids in public school. The path of least resistance is to just let time pass and do nothing. How did things work out for your siblings?

  • This is awesome.

    Seriously.

  • Thanks for sharing and you should be very proud of yourself. I educationally neglected my children too. I feel very horrible for that and enrolled my last child in a virtual public school where I have to be accountable to the public school. I am required to have my child tested 3 times a year. I so wish I would have done this sooner. It’s so great that you excelled, but I think you are the exception.

    I remember telling my husband i cant homeschool and he’d say they’re better off being home, doing nothing than being in an evil public school and at the time, I agreed. I feel like it’s harder for them to realize their potential now as adults.

    I didn’t push education, for my girls especially, thinking they would just be homemakers anyway, didn’t want them going to college.
    Most people in our homeschool group felt the same way about girls in college and just staying home till marriage.

    I have apologized to my children and do again and again and admit I failed and should not have homeschooled them.

    One child particularly struggles with anger toward me. We are very close and when they bring it up I apologize again and admit how bad it was and how I dropped the ball.

    Again thanks for sharing and I really hope people who are homeschooling take education very seriously.

    One more thing I must say is I loved my children with everything in me and thought I was doing the best for them. I started out with good intentions but things went downhill with more children added to the picture. Then it became overwhelming.

    • I educationally neglected my kids too, in the name of “home-schooling” them, which became in reality just not schooling them. My oldest child is angry about it too. You are not alone. I guess there is a lesson there in that we all make mistakes, and sometimes they are very big mistakes that hurt others. We just did not understand. We thought we were loving them. What happens next? We struggling to keep loving. I wish you all the best and may peace come to you all.

  • kb9, with your courage to admit that you failed in one regard, you show yourself a successful parent now: We’re never too old to learn and grow. Don’t beat up on yourself too much; your Christian friends will do that when you leave the room.

  • This is so incredible! Your story sounds almost exactly like mine except there were five children in all. I as the oldest was basically in charge of cooking, cleaning, “schooling” and I really missed out on having a real childhood. I’ve felt like an adult for practically my whole life. Unfortunately I have continued to have numerous struggles with finding some direction and career goals and what I really want to do. It is so amazing that you had that fortitude and determination to take your education into your own hands at such a young age. That is most definitely something to be extremely proud of.

  • I think you might like this poem, which was featured by the Autism Women’s Network. It really sums up the process by which people learn to be proud of themselves in spite of years of shame.

    You Get Proud By Practicing
    by Laura Hershey, poet & Disability Rights activist

    “If you are not proud
    For who you are, for what you say, for how you look;
    If every time you stop
    To think of yourself, you do not see yourself glowing
    With golden light; do not, therefore, give up on yourself.
    You can get proud.

    You do not need
    A better body, a purer spirit, or a Ph.D.
    To be proud.
    You do not need
    A lot of money, a handsome boyfriend, or a nice car.
    You do not need
    To be able to walk, or see, or hear,
    Or use big, complicated words,
    Or do any of those things that you just can’t do
    To be proud. A caseworker
    Cannot make you proud,
    Or a doctor.
    You only need more practice.
    You get proud by practicing.

    There are many many ways to get proud.
    You can try riding a horse, or skiing on one leg,
    Or playing guitar,
    And do well or not so well,
    And be glad you tried
    Either way.
    You can show
    Something you’ve made
    To someone you respect
    And be happy with it no matter
    What they say.
    You can say
    What you think, though you know
    Other people do not think the same way, and you can
    keep saying it, even if they tell you
    You are crazy.

    You can add your voice
    All night to the voices
    Of a hundred and fifty others
    In a circle
    Around a jailhouse
    Where your brothers and sisters are being held
    For blocking buses with no lifts,
    Or you can be one of the ones
    Inside the jailhouse,
    Knowing of the circle outside.
    You can speak your love
    To a friend
    Without fear.
    You can find someone who will listen to you
    Without judging you or doubting you or being
    Afraid of you
    And let you hear yourself perhaps
    For the very first time.
    These are all ways
    Of getting proud.
    None of them
    Are easy, but all of them
    Are possible. You can do all of these things,
    Or just one of them again and again.
    You get proud
    By practicing.

    Power makes you proud, and power
    Comes in many fine forms
    Supple and rich as butterfly wings.
    It is music
    when you practice opening your mouth
    And liking what you hear
    Because it is the sound of your own
    True voice.

    It is sunlight
    Wen you practice seeing
    Strength and beauty in everyone,
    Including yourself.
    It is dance
    when you practice knowing
    That what you do
    And the way you do it
    Is the right way for you
    And cannot be called wrong.
    All these hold
    More power than weapons or money
    Or lies.
    All these practices bring power, and power
    Makes you proud.
    You get proud
    By practicing.

    Remember, you weren’t the one
    Who made you ashamed,
    But you are the one
    Who can make you proud.
    Just practice,
    Practice until you get proud, and once you are proud,
    Keep practicing so you won’t forget.
    You get proud
    By practicing.”

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