The downside of a digitized culture is that it makes it so easy to feel like we’re ‘missing out’ on things. Here I find another place where I’m unlearning what has been bestowed upon me. I will on occasion experience feelings of loss because of the choices we’re making as a family to diverge from mainstream culture. I often have the feeling that I don’t ‘fit in’ anywhere and that ‘everyone else’ enjoying themselves doing carefree things that are, by choice, no longer part of my landscape. Those ‘fun’ things no longer seem fun to me. What I really crave is the ‘easiness’ of it all, the ability to be impulsive and joyful. But the contentment I seek does not come from the outside world, making it more difficult to seek and find it in a culture obsessed with consuming.
Social media allows us to see what everyone else is up to through our online lens, creating the illusion that things are so much better for someone else than in our own day to day routines. Consumption of the lives of others has become a new outlet for gluttony. Wanting more, wanting the best, having what everyone else has. The reality is that what we see flash across our screens is but a small portion of life, one that has been constructed, edited, and shared with intent. Carefully selected highlights.
Parents feel pressured to expose their children to a multitude of extra curricular activities in an effort to provide them with a ‘perfect’ childhood. In my eyes, the shuffle of activities leaves the childhood part out of the equation. I don’t want my children to miss out on the opportunities to muck about and learn by engaging in what they’re interested in at their own pace. This is one of the reasons I have come to form new opinons about schooling and education. Are my children missing out on a traditional education because I’m choosing to home school them? Of course they are. They will not be in a class of 30+ children all of the same age. They will not spend their days sitting indoors at desks. They will miss out on being told in no uncertain terms how ‘smart,’ ‘athletic,’ or ‘popular’ they are, since they’ll not have a group of people constantly measuring them against others. They will not be denied their passion for a topic because it’s not the curriculum being taught. Their engagement of a topic will not be cut short because it’s time for science/lunch/recess/the next unit of study. They will miss out on being the centre of attention during snack and lunchtime for our lack of consumption of sugar, wheat, corn, and processed food. They will not have the opportunity to be able to defend our family’s choice to buy used where possible. They will not spend their leisure time at school talking to other children about the violent video games they’re playing all night long or media they’ve watched. Yes, indeed they will miss out.
Sarcasm aside, it is hard to avoid the inevitable fear of the unknown. Pushing edges means leaving comfort behind. And there are of course things that I greatly enjoyed growing up in a school setting that create a reason for me to pause. I would love for them to be involved in choir or band. I wish for them to learn another language. I want for them to find a group of friends where they feel belonging and trust. I want them to discover knowledge and skills that I don’t have. But these things seemingly offered by an institutional setting are not best suited to a classroom either. They are available to my children without the social structure that fails to mimic natural systems. Creativity, passion, and determination cannot be underestimated.
We can’t do it all. We can’t have it all. We don’t need it all. We just want to be happy.