Most people, including some of my closest friends, do not know that I initially did not want to go to public school. Up until I was thirteen, my siblings and I were home schooled. During the weekdays my mom would teach us basic academia, take us to the library, the park and to our local recreation center where they supplied sports, martial arts, and music and crafts for other kids like me. I know there are some people who don't understand the reasoning behind homeschooling--the misconception being that if one is home schooled, and then one does not interact with other people for socialization. That is far from the truth, in fact, the homeschooling program we were in at the recreation center had dozens of families that had kids that interacted with each other on a daily basis. For me, homeschooling gave me a different way to interact with people, while also having time for myself to study at my own pace.

For example, my favorite pastime would be spending hours at our local main library when I was living in Ohio. Books became my inner realm and sanctuary and, as I preferred being introverted, I felt more at home with stories I could imagine in my own head. No matter what I was feeling, I felt that books gave me a certain comfort and satisfaction in immersing myself into something that wasn’t my own world. That’s not to say that I didn’t like people or didn’t like being around them, but I was able to feel more like myself when I was engaged in another person’s story; getting lost in a mystery. My other alternative lifestyle would be to listen to music from CDs or cassette tapes at home. They became something I looked forward to versus the daily lessons of math or history.

When we decided to stay in Texas back in 2003, my dad and brother went back up to Ohio to pack and get things settled for us to permanently stay in Texas, while my mom and I lived with a family friend until we got our own place. Shortly after, my mom got a job and I was left at home with daily school lessons to keep busy. My mom would then come back from work late at night to grade my schoolwork after she got back home. It didn’t really bother me to be at home by myself to do these studies, because I could go at my own pace and then find a book to read or watch TV when I was done. However, that would be short lived.

One day, our family friend decided that he was not comfortable with me being at the house by myself, seeing as both he and my mom were out working and I was a minor. I never had issues or caused any concern, but he just felt that I should be in a public school setting rather than just being at home. So, my mom decided to enroll me in the nearest middle school. Honestly, I was extremely pissed at this decision, because I felt that this would actually limit my chance to work at my own pace and force me to give up my free time to read books. I also felt that this wasn’t a mutual decision or something I had a say in; that I was being forced to do something that I didn’t consent to. But, since we were under someone else’s roof until my dad and brother came back down, my mother put me into a public middle school.

For the most part, I think I was more scared of public schools than I was angry. For one thing, it cut out the time I had and forced me into a new environment with people I didn’t know. With the homeschooling group, I got to know people at my own pace and that was important to me being an introvert. With the new school, I felt as though I was being thrown into the lion’s den and forced to interact with people I didn’t know. However, I do think that the decision to have me in a public school setting turned out to be for the best. I was able to learn to be more open-minded about the world; I was able to learn to speak out more for myself and learn to accept debates and differences from my own. I was still able to read books, even though it wasn’t as much as before, bit public schools also taught me how to come out of my shell a little bit and learn that there are more and more people out there who share the same feelings I did. In essence, public schools shaped me into who I am today, helped me meet the many people I have, and helped me realize that there is more to life than just what I thought I wanted it to be.