In a world of not-so-sheltered people
I've been homeschooled my entire life—I've never been to public school, unless you count my two classes at the community college. I'm still learning the basic survival instincts that go with being a homeschooler in a world of not-quite-so-sheltered people, but I think I've adapted fairly well, so just in case you're struggling, let me help you out.
Six Ways to Blend In
1. Don't look like one.
This is the most obvious point, but I can't get away with wearing a skirt and t-shirt without my little sister teasing me that I look like a homeschooler. Of course, I just tell her, "Of course I look like a homeschooler! I am one!", but still, this does count in real life. If you want to blend in, the first rule is appearance. As follows:
a) no jumpers of any sort.
b) denim skirts are cute, but vary it a tad.
c) polo shirts aren't the only shirts out there.
If you're trying to blend in, go trendy-modest.
2. Play the hipster card instead of the sheltered card.
If you don't know who an actor is, or you don't know the words to the latest pop song, don't tell everyone that you weren't/aren't allowed to watch that movie or listen to that song. Just name some obscure (but preferably real) band that is "similar in style" or some "foreign film" that you watched (don't say it was for school—that doesn't count in real life). I wasn't super sheltered but I still don't listen to pop music. I listen to a lot of obscure indie artists. That's apparently cool these days, so just make sure that they don't play that artist on K-love, and you are good to go as far as name dropping in conversation.
3. If you don't get it, play along.
If they make a reference you don't get, usually it's better not to ask. If everyone is laughing, just smile and keep your mouth shut. If it is a movie or TV show reference, it is sometimes possible to deduce what they're talking about later into the conversation, otherwise, you can Google it later. If it isn't a TV or movie reference, you probably shouldn't Google it. Even if it is, that's not always a great idea.
4. Being smart isn't always cool.
It is terrific (and I mean that for real) that you love reading and read the complete works of Shakespeare last summer for fun, and have the periodic table and the Constitution memorized, but keep those nerdy references for your homeschooled friends or your siblings—they'll appreciate them more, believe me. There's nothing quite as soul-killing as a sharply witty comment that no one gets because they haven't read that book. It can get more awkward for you, believe it or not. I'm speaking from experience here—it is way better to chuckle inwardly (or even outwardly) at the funny literary reference that no one will get than to say it out loud and have them all stare blankly at you while you (a) try to explain it to them and (b) inwardly writhe.
5. Don't volunteer the fact that you were or are homeschooled.
Seriously, the longer you can keep the elephant under the rug, the longer you have to think of stinging answers to the stock questions and responses.
Haven't heard them before? Let me enlighten you.
- "How do you make friends?" ( I don't. I'm basically a hermit.)
- "Do you go to school in your pajamas?" (I don't go to school, I just told you that.)
- "So, like, does your mom have to teach you everything?!" (What do you have against my mom? How do you know that she doesn't know everything?) (No, I pretty much learn nothing.)
- "Oh, I think I have, like, a cousin who is homeschooled!" (Oh! I have a cousin who goes to public school!)
- "Don't you feel like you're missing out on things?" (Like the uplifting nature of pop culture? Oh yeah, sure.)
- "Are you like, super smart?" (No, actually I'm incredibly stupid.)
6. Whenever possibly, play the hipster card.
I'm serious. Buy yourself a pair of TOMS if you have to, or a beanie. Just say that your parents were Mac people, and whatever, you know. They were the original hipsters and raised you on classic obscure novels and foreign films.
This is like the "get-out-of-jail-free" card. It is pure gold.
Were/Are you homeschooled? What am I missing?
(DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended in any way to mock , malign, or hurt homeschoolers. I owned jumpers, I wear denim skirts, I think of nerdy references, I play the hipster card. I went to a co-op that made me wear a polo shirt every day. This post is about me.)