Auntie SparkNotes: A Homeschool Social Conundrum

Auntie SparkNotes: A Homeschool Social Conundrum

Kat Rosenfield

Dear Auntie,

I’m a homeschooler and have no social life whatsoever. I have tried making new friends, but it is difficult. I live in a small town in Florida where there is only old people who have retired so it’s hard to meet new teenagers. I have tried to join homeschool groups but they never work out (the people in the group were gossiping and mean, or other groups just didn’t have the money and shut down). Since I live in a small town, I can’t drive ninety minutes to a city every time there is a meeting, and I have online classes but no one in my age group (17 yrs old) wants to talk, they just do their work.

I have tried to use apps to communicate with some teens but that has not worked out either and it’s not the same as hanging out face to face. The only friend I have is from the last school that I went to before homeschooling which was when I was in 7th grade (I’m in 12th grade now). We have known each other for 6 years but we don’t get to hang out much and she goes to public school so she hangs out with other friends. I would take a few classes at public school to make friends but the schools around me are rated so low. My sister took one of the classes to meet people and she was shocked at how bad it was (that’s one of the reasons we started homeschooling). We get to travel as well so we can’t join schools at all since we go on week long trips to England or Barcelona.

My sister and I get very bored at our house alone with each other 24/7. She is an extrovert and I am an introvert so she needs to be around people more than me. Although I do not need to be around people as much as her and enjoy being alone a lot, I still need a few friends that I can hang out with (because hanging around my parents all day is messing with my head, especially after 5 years of homeschooling). So if I can’t meet people at school, online, or at other homeschooling groups, then where can I find them? Should I just give up and wait for college to find some friends?

Ugh. I mean, maybe? As a rule, Auntie SparkNotes is generally loathe to pull the "Just wait until you're in college" card, which has always struck me as a) a total cop-out, and b) kinda obnoxious, when you wouldn't be writing to me in the first place if you were content to be virtually friendless until the fall of 2018. But at the same time, you've made it this long with your parents, your sister, and your one former public school pal for company—so yes, if necessary, I'm sure you could hold out for the rest of your senior year.

Especially if there's a trip to Barcelona in the mix.

But you shouldn't have to do that, Sparkler, and not only that, I'm not entirely sure that it's the best thing for you. To go off to college with virtually no experience at interacting face-to-face with your peers in a group setting? In addition to the obvious limits it imposes on your current social life, it means you've had virtually no opportunity to practice the skills you need to have a better social life once you leave for school. Which isn't to say that you're unfriendable, or that you'll be friendless; maybe you're gifted with the sort of natural social graces that make lack of experience irrelevant (in which case, hey, lucky you). But it's one more good reason to at least try to expand your horizons during your senior year, just so you've got a little practice.

And on that front, you might want to consider one or more of the following:

Classes. If not at the local high school, then at your nearest community college—because when the point is to give yourself a social outlet, it's really okay if you're not getting a Harvard-grade education. For best results, choose something elective and interactive: theater, art, debate, creative writing, or even a certification course in something like CPR where you'll be practicing skills on other students.

Extracurricular activities. A chorus, a book club, a knitting circle, a Crossfit gym, a student voluntourism group—anything with a social component that you're also interested in. These places may not be stacked end-to-end with teens, but at least you'll be spending a few hours a week out of the house (and maybe even getting super-ripped).

Volunteering. A town as retiree-heavy as yours is bound to have opportunities to help out the elderly, which is a rewarding thing in its own right, but is also likely to bring you into contact with a few people your age who are similarly lacking in social outlets. You could also look into volunteer opportunities at local pet shelters, community centers, or after-school programs for at-risk youth!

A job. Surely your local dairy bar needs someone young and strong to scoop the ice cream—and surely you could use both the cash and the opportunity to get out of your house on the weekends.

The aforementioned options may not bring you together with a ready-made crew of new BFFs, but any one of them should net you at least a couple of friendly acquaintances and a break from the mind-numbing boredom of being stuck at home 24-7 (not to mention giving you a little advance practice in group socializing outside the confines of your family, which you may not need, but it can't hurt). But even if all you end up doing is killing the time between now and your matriculation at college, at least you'll be killing it in interesting, useful, resume-building ways.

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Topics: Life
Tags: auntie sparknotes, advice, volunteering, loneliness, homeschooling, making friends, homeschool, social anxiety, social life, how to make friends

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