For a long time, I was a really insecure person. I mean, I still am insecure about some things, but I used to be much more sensitive, and to constantly doubt myself. If my family didn't like a movie I liked, I felt slightly embarrassed for liking it. I worried constantly of what other people thought of me, thought of my ideas. I worried constantly that "they", that great, all knowing yet invisible entity, were right about a lot of things. What if "they" were right that unschooling was a "bad thing"? What if "they" were right that I should be more outgoing, or wear make-up, or have tons of friends... I think worrying about what the magical "they" thought about me and my family's life choices took up way too much of my time...
All that type of worrying is getting steadily further into the past now, but I'm just recently starting to notice a new emotion, pride.
I've realized that I'm actually proud of my beliefs, of my opinions, of me. I've realized that I'm not like everyone else. I'm never going to be like everyone else. But far more importantly, I've realized I have absolutely no desire to "be like everyone else". As if there's somehow a standard of normality, with rules that no one has ever read, yet so many people believe and follow.
I'm proud to be me. I'm far from perfect, and I still go through periods of self doubt, of disliking who I am. But those are becoming less frequent, and being overrun by new feelings. I'm proud that I believe what I do. I believe in anarchy, in true freedom, in radical unschooling and attachment parenting and breastfeeding, in human and non-human rights, in mutual respect, respect for humans, non-humans, and the world we're so incredibly blessed to call home. I'm proud that I talk about all of these things, debate them passionately, and try to show other people my views, let them understand why I believe all of the above are so important. I'm proud that I've gotten over my fear of ridicule to do so, and saddened that so many people either have no causes they believe in, or have yet to muster the courage to speak out about them. Because it can truly be a very hard thing to do. Society often reacts badly to those who don't conform, so by speaking out, it sometimes feels like you're opening yourself up for rejection from society itself, as if it's a single entity, the cool person whom you secretly, or not so secretly, crave acceptance and approval from.
I kind of realized just a few days ago that I'm pretty much an unschooling advocate. That word sounds big, impressive, professional, and incredibly intimidating. "One who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause by argument; upholder; defender" states my ancient Random House dictionary that weighs over ten pounds. "A person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc." says Dictionary.com. Wow. It seems hard to believe, but that sounds like what I've been doing very actively for the past six months or so. It feels strange... I've been thinking constantly that I should become an "activist", get involved with some local environmental groups. Find a cause. And I still want to get more actively involved in environmentalism. But I've realized that I already have a cause, and one that I'm truly, wholeheartedly, passionate about. A cause that I'm knowledgeable about, and one that many people have never even heard of. I've never kept a tally, that would be silly, but I think of how many people whom I've introduced to the concepts of unschooling, of how many people were first exposed to the idea by me. And I'm proud. I've realized that I have been doing something to forward a cause that I believe in, to make the world a better place, a more open minded place, in whatever small way I can. And I'm proud.
I've now been offered the amazing, if incredibly intimidating, position of unschooling editor at a homeschooling magazine where I've had a book review column for the past two years. The idea was suggested by my mother, and enthusiastically accepted by the editor, to run an unschooling article each issue. And since I'm deemed to have the most unschooling contacts, I've been asked to collect the articles. Now this is all in it's first stages... We don't know if I can get enough articles, if there will be enough interest in writing them from the unschooling community. But I keep thinking about how many young parents, parents just exploring the alternative educational paths, pick up that homeschooling magazine, and what a difference it could, just possibly, make for those parents to see these beautiful, shining, unschooling articles. Articles showing how people can live such free, non-coercive lives. It could make no difference at all. But as long as there's a chance that even a few more people could come to unschooling because of what they read, I have to try and make this work. And I'm proud that I'm getting the opportunity to share something I love and believe in with all of my heart.
I'm proud. And I'm slightly amazed that I'm proud. Such a novel emotion... But I'm proud of myself for overcoming the emotional blocks I have, for learning not to listen to those little voices in my head that say I'm worthless. So there little voices. I'm proud of myself. Ha.