I’m One Of the Lucky Ones: Muriel Sylvanus’ Story

Muriel blogs at StoryCache.

As I’m sitting here contemplating my homeschool-to-college story and how to write about it, I think of all the other stories my homeschool brothers and sisters will have to tell alongside mine, and I think… “I’m one of the lucky ones.”

For all the positive stories of a seamless transition, I expect there to be war stories from those who had to fight for themselves. For every transition story, positive or negative, I expect that there’s an empty space where there is no story because you still haven’t gotten to go yet.

I’m lucky, because I didn’t just get to go, I was told to go. College was expected and prepared for.

Of course, I didn’t want to go. My argument was “If I’m just going to be a stay-at-home wife and mom, what’s the point?”

The argument came partly from my mother, and partly from my group of friends who weren’t going to be going to college. With them, I complained about how ridiculous college was, and said that I was only doing it because my dad was making me, thereby establishing my cover as a godly, submissive daughter despite the cesspool of worldliness I was about to wade into. Together, we justified my dad’s decision as something that God would bring good out of – maybe I would find a husband there.

Behind all that ideology and back-patting was a severe burn-out on all things educational, born of long years of being educated in a way that wasn’t conducive to my learning style at all. I was intellectually exhausted and completely unmotivated. But since it was verboten to critique homeschooling, and by correlation, my parents, I clung to the ideology. Cue more back-patting. Such a good little homeschooler!

Now I’m on the other side of college and I can’t believe how just-dig-a-hole-and-bury-myself-alive stupid I was being.

College was not difficult academically – the face-to-face setting and classroom interactions kept me focused and alert and my approach to picking a degree was a “path of least resistance” move.

It was not difficult financially – being from a large family with a modest, not extravagant, income made federal and state grants a certainty, and I had the support I needed from my parents to file and to fill in whatever financial gaps where left.

It was not difficult socially – embarrassing in retrospect to be sure, but at the time I was elated to have broader social access; I loved diversity even as I tried to squelch it by attempting to convert everyone; and honestly, I loved being the weird one in a given social group. It made me stand out as actually being someone interesting and unique, whereas in the more homogenized, acceptable weirdness of homeschool culture, I was relegated to the sidelines due to being female and shy.

Of course, it could be said that I shouldn’t have found college such an easy experience– what if I had picked a more difficult degree? If I went back to school today, it’d be in an entirely different field that I simply don’t have the necessary pre-requisites for. I would have to do catch-up work first. My homeschool education would not have been adequate. And my approach to socialization should indicate just how seriously inept my social skills actually were (and still are today, to be honest, though I’ve learned how to hide it).

But I’m still the lucky one, because I still have a degree, despite the rampant facepalms and stupidity, and that is enough to get me into the door of any public university should I pursue different, or further, degrees.

And I’m lucky to have someone who made me do it, because for all that my dad was pretty awesome and deserves sainthood, there’s another story where someone’s parents were heinously misguided and kept their children imprisoned in patriarchy, isolated from society, and academically stunted.

And that’s unequivocally wrong and horrendous.

So to all the unlucky ones – I’m sorry. I don’t even have the words to express how frustrating and angering it must be. But you do, and I’ll be reading your stories. And to those who don’t yet have stories – I hope one day you will.

And to the lucky ones like me – let’s recognize our privilege, and be aghast that in this day and age, higher education is still inaccessible to some. Let’s fight for the educational rights of all and not rest in complacency.

And to the lucky, newly-minted graduates who are about to create a story: Don’t call your history prof a “liberal commie” just because he doesn’t teach revisionist history, mkay?

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