I'm not so sure anyone else noticed, but it was painfully clear to me:
He was clueless.
The lanky kid strolled down the hall trying to act cool, but there was a nervous twitch in his gait. He was unsure of where he was going. The building was unfamiliar. The social expectations foreign. He was a lost figure in the midst of a sea of knowledgeable, comfortable, normal kids. The way he kept glancing at the paper in his hand made him look like a tourist from another land.
He was lost.
Over the next few months I watched him as he sat in the front of all his classes, ate lunch by himself in one of the locker rooms, didn't really make any friends and never talked to anyone outside of class. He didn't belong in this world. He was socially inept and awkward.
He was a homeschooler.
Those poor awkward homeschoolers.
"What school do you come from?" a classmate would ask.
"I was homeschooled," he'd reply.
That's typically where the conversation would die. No one cared to learn more about homeschooling. It was different, unfamiliar, and that was enough for them. Besides, this kid was weird.
But as I look back on myself, now from the perspective of a few years and experience, I was no more awkward than any other student entering a new school filled with kids who had known each other since preschool. Granted, I may have willingly challenged the system a bit more coming from an educational model that encourages dialog between students and their instructors. I may have been more vocal about a few things now and again because I was uninhibited by years of peer pressure to conform. I may have been a tad of a loner, not willing to push myself on others, but that's because I only ever really had one truly incredible friend at a time. I wasn't looking for a social circle.
So are teenage homeschoolers sometimes awkward?
They're about as awkward as any teenage kid. Toss a student from any background into a new situation and you're bound to have a certain amount of dysfunction.
And it has almost nothing to do with homeschooling.
Not long after starting "real school" this young man ate lunch with a diverse circle of friends. He was active in the school community. He excelled in his classes. He even got to be homecoming king once...
Not too shabby for a homeschooler.
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father