Yep, I was an awkward homeschooler growing up.
I did all 12 years of school at home and probably 80% of my college classes online. I always wanted to go to school when I was a kid, but looking back on it, I’m thankful I didn’t.
Where you go to school seems to be what makes up most of your identity as a kid, or at least that’s how it seemed to me growing up. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked where I went to school.
When I was around kids who went to public school, I felt like an outsider. The fact that I’m an introvert didn’t help me any in regards to socializing. I may have had fewer friends growing up, but I’m sure I avoided a lot of unnecessary peer pressure as a result.
My “school” consisted of me, my older brother, and younger sister. My mom stayed home with us and taught using various curriculums. A typical day would start after sleeping in until we felt like getting up and then my brother would usually drag me outside to play until we were called in to begin school.
My brother and I knew we’d have to go in eventually, but we started each day outside, hoping our mom would forget we existed so we could play all day. After my mom’s patience was tested and her vocal cords had gotten a good amount of exercise, we would finally give in and head to the house. Sorry, mom!
When we finally started our school work, we typically finished within 4-5 hours. It takes a lot less time to get through the school day when you don’t have all the extra stuff involved at a public school.
Thinking back on my childhood, I realized being homeschooled may have had a big part in making me suitable for early retirement.
Fearing Early Retirement
Hanging around the FIRE community, I see the topic of early retirement come up a lot. One of the biggest reasons I see people resist the idea of retiring early is that they don’t want to sit on a beach for the rest of their lives.
I don’t know who told all these people that they’re sentenced to mandatory beach time the minute they quit their jobs, but it’s a very narrow viewpoint.
The only logical explanation I can come up with for people resisting the idea of financial independence is fear. They might not say it or even realize it, but fear has to be the most common reason for staying in a job even though you don’t need to work for money anymore.
Fear that you’ll get bored without work. Fear that your money won’t last, or that you’ll stop contributing to the world… Fear…
I’m not quite sure why I don’t share this fear. I’ve always thought the idea of retiring early sounded really cool. I’m also not a doctor and don’t think anyone’s life is depending on my job being done, so that might have something to do with it.
I get that some people are contributing a lot to the world through their career and that’s great if you never want to quit your job. I just feel like I’ll easily contribute to the world just as much as I do in my career once I’m retired. In fact, I see myself contributing more than I do now.
Being homeschooled had a part in making me suitable for early retirement and here are 4 reasons why.
Being homeschooled Makes You an Outsider
If you want to make a kid feel different from others, homeschool them. I had some close friends at church but had a fraction of the social interaction I would’ve had at public school.
Any time I was around kids I didn’t know, they asked me where I went to school. I guess kids ask that question because they might know someone who goes to the same school as you and make a connection. Well, that never happened with me, except on a very rare occasion that I would meet someone else who was homeschooled.
Being seen as different didn’t really affect me negatively looking back on things. I might have wished I could be seen as normal, but the sooner you can become comfortable being yourself in life, the better.
Being an outsider when I was a kid is going to help me when I’m 40 something and don’t need to work a normal job. Unless we get a lot of people on board with FIRE (which would be really cool), retiring early is going to stay a fringe thing.
I also see there being similarities to the things I’ll hear when I’m retired. Back in my school days, every time I met someone new, they always said they wished they could be homeschooled so they could chill in their pajamas all day. I’m sure early retirees frequently get comments about how nice it must be.
Homeschooling Helps Develop Creativity
When you spend all day at your house and don’t have the mental distractions of hundreds of other kids, you have to start relying heavily on your imagination to not get bored.
We grew up on 7 acres and spent most of our time outside. Sometimes we entertained ourselves in not-so-safe ways. One time, my brother and I thought it would be fun to fill two-liter bottles up with gas and throw them on a fire. It was a pretty awesome experience because it was dark and the bottles would get small holes in them and shoot flames a good 50 feet in the air. I’m amazed we didn’t get hurt that night, but we made up for it on lots of other occasions.
I doubt I’ll be throwing gas-filled 2 liters into fires when I’m retired, but having the imagination to keep me entertained will really come in handy. They say having a purpose in life is a good way to extend life-span and it takes imagination to develop purpose. If nothing else, maybe I’ll still be writing this blog when I’m retired and that’ll keep me from getting bored.
Going to public school gets you in the routine of having to be somewhere 5 days out of the week. Once you're at school, you depend on teachers giving lectures, talking to your friends and developing your identity around the people of the school.
Being homeschooled eliminated a lot of structure I would have had in my life if I had gone to school. When I got my first real job at 17, I wasn’t used to conforming to a corporate policy and acting in a way to please others. I’ve always been an easy-going person, so I don’t have any issues getting along with bosses and coworkers, but I’ve always known I like doing things on my terms more than adhering to certain rules.
I’ve seen several stories of people getting to FIRE and quitting their jobs only to find they don’t know what to do with their time. I’ve got plenty of time to make a plan for retirement life, but even if I woke up tomorrow with enough money in the bank to never work again, I don’t feel like I would have an issue with finding something to do. There are too many people to help and too many problems to solve for a capable person to sit around bored.
Not having a schedule
Being homeschooled, we always had a general timeframe to do school work when I was a kid, but it wasn’t perfectly structured like public school is. The 9-5 corporate life is completely arbitrary and unnecessary in today’s world. Even though I work from home and do most of my work independently, I’m still trapped by the confines of a schedule.
When I’m retired, I see myself absolutely enjoying the freedom of doing everything when I want to. I realize that it will take some discipline to get things done in a timely manner, and I’m sure I’ll have some sort of schedule. But for the most part, I think I’ll do what I want when I want.
I never woke up to an alarm clock when I was a kid and I look forward to the day I turn my alarm off for good. Being abruptly woken isn’t the natural way to start your day and I can’t wait to wake up when my body says it’s time to.
If I had to give a one-word answer for why being homeschooled will help me in early retirement, I’d have to say freedom.