I finally made it, and my Senior Year is coming to an end. Eight years of homeschool, and twelve jam-packed years of learning. I have grown (not in height, unfortunately) tremendously throughout the past four years, and through every rocky lesson I’ve endured, I don’t think I would change much. Out of everything I have learned over the years, here are the top 10 life lessons that I have taken from the past 12 years.
1. True education is not memorizing for a test, nor studying directly from a textbook.
Homeschooling has taught me how to love learning. I’ve learned there’s a stark comparison between truly learning and memorizing for a test. My brain is like a sponge and I am constantly absorbing information – and yet I’ve never been able to truly memorize much from a textbook. (I can honestly say Pinterest has taught me more about history than a textbook has.)
I’ve learned the keys to learning are more than just binge-studying before finals week; they’re about experiencing. In an age when so much of education is focused on testing; I am grateful for the opportunity to embrace unique ways of learning – from devouring history through fiction to finding quirky ways to learn how to multiply two digit numbers within seconds. True learning cannot be measured by a standardized test.
2. People will stare. People will judge. People will hate. Be yourself anyway.
This year, I finally learned what “being yourself” truly means. More than a cliche, being yourself means not following the crowd in order to fit in, even on little things. Being your best self is just that – being your best self, instead of trying to imitate someone else’s best self. I’ve learned with whatever I do in life, there’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t like me, so I might as well stop trying to follow everyone’s idea of who I should be.
I am beyond grateful to have spent the sensitive middle school years at home, studying WWII and learning about courageous people who didn’t care what others thought about them. Call me sheltered, but during those years, I never felt the pressure to act, dress, or talk like anybody else solely to fit in. I came out of those years with the exact opposite perspectives on life, and it made me more rooted in what I believe and why I believe it.
3. Don’t live above your means.
Right next to religion and politics; the other most controversial and uncomfortable family-get-together topic is finances. But there is something amazing about financial security. One of my favorite mottos is “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Living frugally and with the minimal in mind is humbling, and more often than not keeps priorities straight.
4. Learn from everything.
Learn from history. Learn from past mistakes. Learn from your parents. Learn from your grandparents. Treat every book, movie, person, or opportunity to learn; even if that lesson is how not to act in life.
5. Do the right thing. Stand up for what’s right – even when it’s difficult.
You know what the right thing is – sticking up for someone being bullied or being honest when you forgot about a project deadline. I don’t think it was ever meant to be easy – if it was easy everyone would do it. It’s often hard to do, and can leave you feeling miserable afterwards. Be strong, and pursue righteousness; even when it’s tough, even when you’re standing alone, and even when it’s easier to keep silent about the things that matter.
6. There is a lot of cruelty in the world. But, there’s also a lot of good.
It seems that every time you turn on the news, a new terrorist attack has happened. When I first opened a history textbook’s chapter on WWII and the Holocaust, I had an aching pit in my stomach – aren’t there any good people in this world? Aren’t there any people who said, “Stop – this is wrong?” Thus began my dive into history.
What history books fail to mention is the story of Stefania Podgorska, a girl my age – 17 – who with her seven year old sister successfully hide 13 Jewish people in her attic for 2.5 years during the Holocaust. Or the tiny village in the mountains of Le Chambon, France; whose entire village sheltered over 3,000 Jewish people for several years.
I’ve never read a textbook that mentioned the David and Goliath story of the tiny nation of Denmark; who as a country resisted the Nazis and helped the majority of its Jewish population (7,000+ people) escape to free Sweden, all within a few short weeks.
I’ve learned that there will always be cruel people in the world, at least until Christ returns. Still, I believe it’s important to constantly remember the good – the ones who live selflessly for others in pursuit of mercy, justice, and righteousness. Likewise, it’s important to be the good in our everyday lives – helping fellow human beings in every aspect big or small.
7. Life goes on.
I have had a series of unfortunate events in the past few weeks/months. (I still think it’s April – I now realize it is almost June.) Through it all; I’m constantly reminding myself; life goes on. With life comes the good and the bad, and it’s helped me appreciate the good things in life better.
8. Enjoy the little moments.
I cherish dancing to old Disney music with my younger sister, and embrace every talk with my grandparents about their childhoods. The work is never ending; and it will ultimately get done. So, take a moment to truly embrace the most important things in life.
9. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the little for the big.
As friends posted pictures of their senior proms, I have realized I will never attend prom; one of the most memorable nights in many people’s lives. I’ve been ok with this. (There are homeschool proms, but it’s not really my thing anyway.)
How many teens have had the opportunity to create a part time income from home, that can be done from anywhere? How many teens have learned to turn their passions into a way to pay off college? I spend most of my weekends sewing, or building a freelance audience. Ultimately, I’m happy to sacrifice little things for the bigger picture.
10. Don’t waste your life.
More than once, I have had an adult tell me to “act more like a teenager.” Still, I have to wonder, why do we hold teenagers to such low expectations and wonder why they meet those low standards? Last month, my blog surpassed one million views. I have been given an incredible audience and platform, and I don’t want to waste that constantly posting selfies.
I think everyone wants to make a difference in the world, but nobody really wants to do anything different. I’m proud to say I have created printables that have had over 50,000 downloads; aimed at making math a little less painful. I’m grateful to say I’ve been able to help thousands of kids enjoy history through kid-friendly historical movies and books. I love pursuing my passions. I hold myself to a higher standard than society has placed on me – because I know I am capable of so much more. (And, you are too.)
To my readers, you have shaped me more than you can imagine. You inspire me daily. I value all of your unique comments, encouragement, perspectives, and advice. I feel so humbled to think that you take time out of your day to read my thoughts. Thank you so much for following me. As this chapter of my life comes to a close, I cannot wait to share and experience life’s next adventures. Thank you so much for following along <3
Also check out my 7 Books Christians Should Read Before Graduating!
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You have lived wisely!
Thank you 🙂
What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing! I am also a home-schooled student, completing grade 12 this year. This post really encouraged me!
Yay congrats!! Thank you 🙂
“I hold myself to a higher standard than society has placed on me–because I know I am capable of so much more.” < —– YESSSSS
If you haven't already, you should definitely read Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris (I'm sure you've heard of it–wicked popular in homeschool circles!). While I thought the writing itself was a little wanting, I am completely behind the concept of our low expectations for teenagers just becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. If you expect more, more is accomplished!
Congrats on your senior year! Looking forward to following along as your adult life unfolds. 🙂 Best of luck!
Thank you so much! And, I actually only read it a few months ago! I had always heard of it, but never really knew what it was about until another teen reader mentioned it 😛 Another similar book I really enjoyed is Think Big by Dr. Ben Carson.
Onward and upward for you! I always enjoy your respectful, insightful posts. Be Blessed as you embark on your next chapter in life! Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much! 🙂
That was beautiful! Thank you!
Congratulations and best wishes, Sam, in the months and years ahead. You’re a true winner!
Thank you 🙂
Bravo Samantha! I’ve never read your blog until this post. You have such a wonderful outlook and hearing your words about homeschooling gives me so much encouragement. I’ve just begun homeschoolinf our four young kids this year. It is so lovely to hear now positively it has impacted your life. Best wishes for your future! I am certain you’ll be very successful.
Thanks so much! Good luck on your homeschooling journey! Wishing you the best!
Such an excellent summary on life lessons, Samantha! I am totally enlightened by it! All the best and thank you for sharing!
Thank you very much!
That was a really meaningful essay, Samantha! I really enjoyed reading it. I am only 11 and I hope to be like you one day!
Thanks so much, Zoe. 🙂 Work hard, dream big, and trust God!
After reading this great post I believe that God has given you the gift of wisdom (among other things)
Great post, Samantha. Thanks for sharing it.
Thank you very much!
Congratulations and many blessings as you continue to travel the journey and school of life.
I have always held to the belief that we need to raise adults, not raise children. Your parents are to be commended for doing an incredible job in the adult you’ve become. As I’ve “watched” you grow up over the last few years on your blog, I appreciate your wisdom and insight from a well-thought perspective that is kind and godly. God bless you in all your endeavors.
Thank you very much! 🙂
Awesome insight to a life on the other side of home education. Thank you!
My daughter’s motto for graduation from public school, “Congratulations on doing what was expected of you.” Homeschooling is doing more than is expected. Enjoy your new adventures.
I really enjoyed your post. Yesterday I prayed about quitting homeschool-this is my first year-but after reading your blog, it is confirmation that this is exactly where God wants us. You are a great inspiration to not only your peers but us adults. Thank you and I am excited to see what else God has in store for you!
Thank you so much!! Be blessed in your homeschool journey <3 it's tough, but worth every minute!
WOW!!! Samantha–I am super impressed with your blog! I am bookmarking it to discuss with my rising 5th grade son tomorrow. (Yes, I’m mean…we continue our learning in the summer!) Your website is not only very informative, grammatically correct, and full of great information, it’s also a work of art! Last year was our first year homeschooling, and I am so excited to be homeschooling my son again. I can’t believe how far he’s come in a year. Now we are super jazzed about HSing in the future. Your site is full of great information, and encouragement. Congrats for being so driven and smart. You and your parents made a great decision and clearly you have an independent mind, a creative spirit, and a zest for learning that never should end. Learning should be enjoyable and ongoing. Thanks again…I can’t wait to read all your other articles!
Ha ha…I just saw you said you specialize in procrastination. Me too! That’s awesome.
Hey Liz! Thanks so much!! 🙂
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