3.01.2006

No Such Thing As The Real World

I got nostalgic walking through the halls of a nearby high school last night. This would seem a lot more normal if I'd actually attended that high school; or any high school for that matter.

My sister is a high school debate coach. This provided me with the opportunity to go judge an event, as she needed extra judges in order to get all of her kids there. I tried to look reasonably professional as I flipped pages and read numbers and scored students on their speaking skills, but in actuality, I was more nervous than the students.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not uneducated. I was homeschooled. The last time I took an actual class was in sixth grade; I was eleven. Walking through the big empty halls with their gray floors and yellow walls, and sitting in the study-room-turned-judges'-lounge with football flags and notebooks and posters and signs of school spirit everywhere... I just wondered what it was like to be a part of that every day.

Of course, the reality isn't Hilary Duff's world. I remember myself at fifteen, sixteen, seventeen: shy, backwards, country, good with grades, obedient of rules, Christian--everything that prevents a young teen from "fitting in." No. High school would not have been what you might call fun.

Homeschooling has its down sides. I sometimes miss the "school spirit" experience, and I don't feel particularly confident relating to my peers at times (though I doubt that high school would have changed that.) I have also seen terrible things done in the name of homeschooling.

At that age, though, I didn't miss the public school a bit. Montana had a strong homeschooling community. We had a volleyball team, which I still miss. We formed a Toastmasters' Club. My best friend since I turned eleven is still one of my closest friends today. I didn't come out of the homeschool experience thinking that any school option--public, private, or home--formed the only "right" way, but I did come out competitive academically and physically, and social awareness came with maturity. I was also taught to think, which is not taught much anywhere nowadays. As they say in the South, I was "raised right."

Walking through the high school last night, with John Mayer's song running through my head, I couldn't help but smile and wonder what I might have been. Today, I wonder who they'll be in a few years: the good-natured young guy who showed me where to go, the beautiful girl who gave a heartfelt and well-prepared oratory, the kids traipsing through the halls and lounging around outside. Beginnings matter intensely in some ways; yet they are no guarantee of a final outcome, either positive or negative.

"I want to run through the halls of my high school
I want to scream at the top of my lungs
I just found out there's no such thing as the real world" --John Mayer

Life being one of those things that there's little way to prepare for--in the ways that really count--I can only wonder, pray, and hope.

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