Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Honesty and Negativity

There seems to be a lot of talk going around right now about being honest about the (relatively few) downsides of unschooling. Idzie, Ronnie, and Jean have all made great posts on this topic in the last couple of days, and I think it's fantastic that people are talking about it.

That isn't exactly what this post is about, but it's kind of in the same spirit. See, as a grown unschooler, I often feel pressure to present a good face and show everyone how Totally! Awesome! My life is! I hasten to add that this pressure doesn't come from anyone but myself. I know there could be someone reading whose kids are very small, or who is just considering unschooling for the first time, who is specifically looking to hear from grown unschoolers. They want reassurance that we're well-adjusted and enjoying life, and that we're not just sitting on our asses collecting welfare checks, or whatever their vision of a Failed Life might be. And I want to provide that reassurance, because I wholeheartedly believe that unschooling is the best life for kids. I want to do what I can to encourage people to unschool.

So it's pretty difficult for me to be honest on here about how hard my life is sometimes.

In my case, the cons aren't really "cons of unschooling" so much as they are "cons of having an inherited tendency toward depression and coming from a family where everyone was disabled or sick or very old and all of them died by the time you were in your early 20s and suddenly you're all alone with no job in the middle of a recession and you're seriously considering changing your name to Charlie Bucket or Harry Potter or whatever the little girl's name was in A Little Princess." All that stuff would've happened whether my parents let me quit school or not.

But since not everyone who comes by here knows my entire life story, I worry that offhand remarks about how shitty my day was or how I don't have a job might look. I know that's a common worry when you're part of any type of minority group: wanting to "look good" lest someone generalize your shortcomings to everyone in that group. But add to that the desire not to make your now-deceased parents look bad, and you get an awful lot of little internal voices screaming at you not to make it publicly known that you're having a hard time.

On the flipside, however, is the need for honesty. Because if I'm doing research for a serious decision, and I find that everyone only says 100% positive things about one of my potential choices, it sets off every possible these people are trying to sell me snake-oil-flavored Kool Aid alarm in my head. I need to know the negatives in order to see whether they're ones I can accept. I need to know about the bad days so I don't freak out when I inevitably have one. And I need to know about the people who are having a damned hard time, because then when I see that they're still completely excited about this way of life, I will know there must be something special about it.

So in interest of promoting that honesty: I am having a damned hard time today. It's only been three months since I lost my mom, and I'm still grieving. January is consistently the worst month for me in any year, no matter what is going on in my life at the time. I don't have a job, or any good prospects for a job, and it's only a very short matter of time before my electricity gets cut off and I run out of food. My dog, who I've had for 10 years, is ill and I cannot afford to take her to the vet. A friend who was considering moving up here in a few months is now saying she may not be here until the end of the year, and I'm wondering if it will happen at all. Another close friend has no way of knowing if her relatives in Haiti are alive, which makes me feel bad for feeling bad about any of my problems.

And of course, as will invariably happen on a day when you already feel bad, random Internet Assholes have been on my nerves all day.

So I'm not having such a good day. It'll pass, I know. I'll get a job somehow, January will give way to an early Florida spring, I'll find something to amuse me enough to get my spirits up, and life will get better.

But not today. Today can kiss my ass.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved your post. I just found your blog through a list someone posted on gaunschoolers. I know what it is like to lose your parents when you are young. Losing your mom so recently, I'm so sorry. It's like walking around with a huge hole in your life.

I also know what it is like being on guard with what you say about your life. I want to tell people unschooling is great and we'd do nothing different, yet I feel too vulnerable to open up about what is hard. We live a life of voluntary simplicity, and it is the same. Just because it's simple doesn't mean it's not hard at times.

Hang in there.