I was around sixteen when I wrote the post 10 Ways Worldschooling Has Ruined My Childhood.
We were in Thailand at the time, at the start of what would be a two year trip through Southeast Asia and Oceania. I remember that it seemed like every week that Mom or I would get a comment from someone who was legitimately concerned that my parents were screwing up my childhood. The common consensus was that my brothers and I would come out of this whole travel thing seriously socially impaired, die in a tropical forest of some infectious disease, be kidnapped and forced into prostitution, suffer emotional trauma due to the lack of peer interaction, or some other such unlikely tragedy.
I suffer from a severe case of sarcasm. I can only be told that I’m going to be a disaster due to my unconventional upbringing so many times before the snarky comebacks start to slip out. Seriously. I did try to play nice for a while. I wrote a post called Education and Friends on The Road: My Thoughts in response to one such comment, and another called What About School? just for those interested in what I’ve done for my education besides travel. And then I ranted out my frustration with 10 Ways World-schooling Has Ruined My Childhood. Guess which one got the most publicity? Go figure.
Every few months someone in the travel community shares that post and it does the rounds again. And every time, there are some people who think it’s awesome, and then there’s the group that thinks I’m a “privileged brat” who’s hating on their way of life. Want to see some of the comments? It can be pretty amusing. I’ll keep it anonymous:
“I’m all for world travel and learning experiences, but this article appears to have been written by an overprivileged, self-admitted snob looking down her nose at other people (children?) who could only dream of having the means to go where she has gone. Thanks for the cautionary tale. I plan to take my daughter as many places as we can, but will keep a close eye on her attitude so that this entitled snobbery doesn’t take over her personality.”
“You are young, so you can be forgiven for a lack of perspective. However you should know that your post reads just like an adult posting “10 Ways Traveling To All The Continents (With Evidently No External-Imposed Responsibilities) Has Ruined My Social Life In My Hometown of Toledo, Ohio.” Do we think this person has made a better choice than those of us still stuck in Toledo’s West End neighborhood, or, do we think they have different resources? Would we choose to simply travel the world and soak in the educational experiences along the way if that were an option for us?”
“I travel and you only become a snob by your choice, you are giving an awful perception of what living life really is. You’re a child and when you become an adult you will look at your experiences in the right way….hopefully.”
“Good for you and your money! Way to make HARDWORKING wives of skeptical homeschool husbands look even worse that we shouldn’t be homeschooling because we can’t possibly give our children that type of an education.”
“It is important when you can’t afford the plane tickets because you don’t work! ;)”
“Of course, being able to PAY for it all is rather important. Oh, and food, clothing, medical care etc. For all of these things one needs income. For income, one needs some sort of job. For a job, one needs some sort of education – because low paid jobs for uneducated workers doesn’t fund airfares at today’s prices. So..I guess the real question is how are you planning to sustain your lifestyle? The bank of Mom and Dad tends to close in your twenties.”
So, those of you who are of the opinion that I’m an uneducated snob! This one’s for you!
First off, I want to thank you. I’ve gotten a lot of entertainment out of all the hateful and/or highly critical comments you’ve shared with me over the past two years. I’m not even being insincere here. I got another one last night and had a good laugh over it. Also, a few of your comments (the more rational ones) have led me to think more deeply about a few subjects, which is always appreciated.
Secondly, I’d like to re-state the fact that 10 Ways World-schooling Has Ruined My Childhood was never intended to lifestyle-bash people who live perfectly wonderful, “normal” lives back home.
Did you know that until I’d made my eleventh trip around the sun, I lived among a small community of incredible folks in New Hampshire, U.S.A.? My life wasn’t so different from that of many American kids. Since then, I’ve spent time with a wide variety of families who all embrace drastically different lifestyles. I have Guatemalan friends who live in two-room houses that they share with their chickens. I have American friends who live in beautiful high quality houses in Hawaii, and friends who barely scrape by and have beautiful, joyous lives regardless of finances. I have friends who travel full-time like I do, and friends that travel whenever they find the time/money to.
The point being that your life is your own, and I’ll never be the one to tell you that you’re doing it wrong; that my life is better/cooler than yours. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my experiences worldwide thus far, it’s that there is no one “right” way to do it. Rather, there are many unique and equally adventurous ways to live. This is your very own choose-your-own-adventure story. Ignore my opinion. Ignore anyone who tells you they’ve got it all right, because that’s the surest sign they don’t. For my sake, for your sake, and for Pete’s sake, just live the best you can and give it your best shot every day. You’re not screwing everything up. You can do it. Have some faith in your ability to rock your corner of the world.
This seems to be the underlying issue most people have with my family and others like us. From what I can tell, they feel like we’re attacking their financial situation/ability to give their kids good things in life too. I don’t feel like it’s even necessary for me to say that this isn’t the intention (seems obvious), but I’ll say it anyway.
It’s a common assumption that those of us who find a way to travel full-time are financially gifted above the norm. In some cases, it’s true. But most of us aren’t. Most of us have to work our tails off. Some blog. Others find a way to convert the skills they have into businesses they can take on the road. Everyone has their own tips and tricks, but what many people don’t realize is that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make this life happen. We don’t stay in five star hotels. We make sacrifices that most vacationers don’t make; social, monetary, time-related, comfort-related sacrifices.
I’m considering writing about this sometime soon. In the meantime, yes, I realize that I am a child in our family and therefore don’t have all the financial information. If you’d like to ask my parents some questions relating to that aspect of our lifestyle, check out their website. But in the meantime, know that:
- We aren’t independently wealthy.
- My parents work very hard to allow us to live this way.
- We’re often living on the cheap, and things like the Sydney Opera House are splurges. Traveling slow is cheaper than moving every day, so we don’t get anywhere very quickly.
So apparently I won’t be able to get a job in order to sustain travel of my own in the future, nor do I have any idea what work is, because I’m… uneducated. Not sure where the logic on this one comes in.
I have higher math skills. I’ve done all the typical high-school work, and then some. My mother was a teacher in a variety of settings for a few years, so is more than qualified to teach me. My list of extra-curricular activities is extensive due to the opportunities I’ve lucked into/been gifted with along the way. I am a published author. I’m TEFL certified. I’ve spoken in front of hundreds of people about world issues and the importance of travel. I started taking college courses at sixteen, and am currently neck-deep in the process of transferring to Queen’s University in Canada. As far as work in regards to travel goes, I’ve already self-funded and taken multiple international trips on my own. I write, teach, edit, and manage other websites. While my education and childhood has unquestionably been a gift I had no part in bringing about, I have certainly taken those gifts and used them to the best of my ability. I have worked hard. I have accomplished things of my own accord.
Without any trace of irony, how would you say my education has been neglected?
In general, I’ve found the people who read my blog to be interesting, well-educated, supportive folks who are all incredible in their own way. Some are farmers or builders, others are innovators, designers, or entrepreneurs; and ALL share a love of the world and the incredible experiences that we share just by living in it together. And honestly, many of those who leave skeptical comments on some of my articles do so from an educated and respectful perspective.
While I respect your opinions and am 100% open to discussion and to learning from all of you, I really don’t feel the need to defend my lifestyle to those of you who have a problem with it. It’s not like you’re going to see me hating on you for living your lives. They are, after all, YOUR lives.
So, the question stands. Am I a privileged brat?
You’re free to decide that for yourself. But make sure you a.) know satire/sarcasm when you see it, and b.) have had more than a 1 post experience with who I am, first!
(Unless, you know, you’re Mr. Randy Wood. He can call me a brat whenever he wants ;) )