When talking about my school conversation tend to go something like this…
Person: So you're homeschooled?
Me: Yes, well I do online public school.
Person: *looking confused* So you don't go to school?
Ugghh, this happens to me more often than I would like it to. For the record, online public school is just like public school in that you get to communicate with your peers and teachers in class as well as have the same coursework, assignments, quizzes, tests and etc. In my experience, the only real difference is that online school is more flexible, allowing you to create your own environment, and is more geared towards individual learning. Unfortunately, many people in my community have this belief that those attending online schools are shy and introverted and want nothing to do with socialization.
Well, let me be the first to tell you that this is not necessarily true, especially in my case. At this point, many of you might have already assumed that I was bullied at school or that I had a bad social experience, however, that is quite the contrary. I won a superlative in my 8th-grade year for class clown and was super social and talkative (I still am today).
Then why in the right mind would I choose to do an online school?
Well, first of all, I wanted to prioritize my religion and second I wanted to create an environment where I could safely grow as a strong Muslim woman. Somewhere near the end of middle school, I quickly realized that there was some part of me that was missing and that no matter what I did I could never really feel content.
No matter who I tried to explain my discontent to they would never understand. Thank god, eventually, by some miracle, I decided that I had to turn to Allah (SWT) and ask him to help me because I figured that if he created me he must know me the best. For a long time, I would always see that one person crying in their salah and have such conviction in their faith, all the while being so successful in literally everything they did. I wanted to be that type of person so badly.I wanted to be the type of person who looked forward to their next prayer. I wanted to put my religion first because I knew that Allah (SWT) would make my worldly affairs so effortlessly easy.
So I stayed put on my decision to do online school, because I wanted to start learning the Quran, memorizing it and relishing my religion. I am so thankful that I stayed firm on my decision because the Quran I have memorized, the connection I have felt with my maker and the things that I have learned would have indefinitely been non-existent if I had chosen a different path.
Because online learning has flexible schedules I can spend more time studying my religion and in hindsight learning more about myself and where I stand in this world. It has opened my eyes and more importantly opened my heart, making me more aware of what Allah (SWT) expects from me and what I am expected to do in this world.
To be honest, the first year was tough to adjust to, but I managed, mainly because it was my decision against literally everyone else's. When I mean everyone else I also mean all the desi aunties who found it imperative to remind me of how much I was missing out on the whole "high school experience" and how I was going to regret my decision. I wanted to prove all of them wrong, and the more I felt the social pressure build up the more I wanted to do online school.
That determination was only from Allah (SWT). I wept and prayed to him asking that he allow me to be closer to him, to give me the easier path and to make me strong along the way. What do you know, Alhamdulillah, I stood my ground. My will to not go to public school went so far that on the first day of public school my neighbor came and rang my doorbell in an attempt to make me go, but I didn't budge.
I was going to go through with my decision because more than anything in the world I wanted to make Allah (SWT) proud of me, not my mom or my dad or my community because I knew that would inevitably come later. Sahabas and people before me gave up their lives, family and wealth for the sake of Allah and were rewarded with better things both in this world and the hereafter. I knew I wasn't as perfect as they were, however, I was determined to be and I could try to be.
Knowing myself and observing the people around me played a huge role in the second reason that I chose to learn online. The environment of a public high school can be pretty toxic, even if you try to keep to your own lane. Like in middle school I learned a lot of things from my peers that I quickly wanted to unlearn. I felt compelled to understand so much of what I had been protected from as a child. I also watched as those older than me entered high school as one person and left as another. I didn't want to be like that.
For a long time, I was embarrassed about telling anyone that I didn't like the environment of a public high school because well… people can be harsh. Often times, people would tell me, "You can change your environment in a certain way and make good friends." To be honest in theory that sounded great, but in practice…not so great. I understood that my teen years were very pivotal in regards to shaping my adulthood and me as a person.
I didn't want to be in an environment where I subconsciously adopted behaviors, ideas and even attitudes that went against my religion. I wanted to be a different teenager, one that wasn't shaped by society, but one who was shaped by Islam and could, therefore, shape her own choices. I wanted to be empowered by my choice, I wanted to show the world that I chose this path and that I wouldn't have it any other way.
I look back now and I do not regret my decision and I am honestly so grateful and thankful to Allah (SWT) for allowing me to continue doing what I'm doing. I can say now that I humbled by this experience and I hope that I can continue to make even better decisions in the future.
Everyone knows themselves and are capable of making their own decisions. Furthermore, what worked for me may or may not work for you. Depending on your attitude on life and your willingness to change for the better you can trust in yourself to make the right decision.