Being a worldschooled kid was great. I traveled the world with my family, learned the full range of school subjects from real-world experience, made friends on six continents, and loved every second of it. I’ve written about growing up as a worldschooler before. In fact, you might even be here from my 10 Ways Worldschooling Ruined My Childhood post. We’ve talked about socialization (again and again), what school days looked like, how I made long-term friends on the road, and more. Today I’m going to take a different approach. Being a worldschooled kid rocked, for sure. But being a worldschooled adult is 100x better, for a few reasons:
1. People have stopped asking me about socialization.
Damn. I put this in the list two weeks ago with great pride and confidence, excited that no one had asked me about my social skills in over a year. Then I received a list of questions for an interview I’m doing at the moment and THERE IT WAS AGAIN. Ha. I guess I’m still being asked about my socialization skills. Time to just get used to it and move on. Am I really that obviously awkward?
But seriously, guys. What do YOU do about socialization? Turn the question around and you’ll realize how funny it sounds. Do you ask your coworkers or public schoolers what they do about socialization? Probably not. Because we all socialize the same way, whether we’ve lived in one town for the duration of our lives or are traveling the world 24/7. We go out and talk to people. We invite folks over for dinner. We kick around a soccer ball or talk about our favorite books. We play music together and talk about the things that really matter. Whether you’re keeping up with your friend across the street or your friend on another continent, the process is the same, even if the tools are different. I may not be able to walk over for an afternoon coffee, but I can check the time zones and hop on Skype.
2. Worldschooled adults don’t feel like they have to “get out”.
I’ve already been “out.” I’ve traveled extensively. I’ve had adventures. I’m extremely lucky and I know that. But not feeling like I’ve been trapped at home for the past eight years is a definite benefit of being a worldschooled kid. I’ve never felt held back by my family. I didn’t feel like I wanted to escape them when I first moved out. University was simply the next adventure in my path. And now that I’m at university, I don’t particularly feel the need to escape, now that I’m over my 6-month no-travel cabin fever period.
When I hit the road, I’m not escaping or running away from my life. I’m living it. I’m not escaping a small town, a high school, a restrictive family situation, etc. I’m pursuing my current adventures with many others already under my belt.
3. I know my path.
Having had the time to dig deep into my interests and pursue whatever I wanted as a worldschooled kid, I’m not looking down the next decade with no idea what I’d like to do. Travel inspired my passion for the study of geography. Time away from a traditional school setting allowed me to learn to do basic web design work, manage social media professionally, and optimize SEO. I already have a portable income stream, so I’m free to take up international opportunities and go where I like without having to worry about finding work. I know that I’m interested in Guatemala, which allowed me to pursue an internship at a research library in Antigua. I leave in a couple of weeks, everything I need in one backpack. From here out, I know what I want to be doing with the next decade. I have dreams and ideas for adventures ahead.
Now, you don’t need to be a worldschooled kid to have direction and a passion for the life ahead of you.
I want to really stress that all of these points are simply perks of being a worldschooled kid. I’m not passing judgement on other lifestyles. There are many other ways to live life. But I have noticed that there’s a feeling of being lost among many of my peers. I don’t know if this can be chalked up to any one cause, but it is a problem. I’ve seen dozens of other millennials go to university for their bachelor’s degree, take a few random internships without any real interest or commitment, graduate, get a master’s, then take whatever job they can get afterwards. It wouldn’t bother me so much if they clearly had a real passion for what they were doing. I find it heartbreaking when at twenty, so many give up on their dreams or forget to have them in the first place. I hear “I don’t really know what I’d like to do,” all the time at school. In my experience, worldschooled kids tend to have their direction figured out even before they move out, which is a huge perk.
4. Worldschooled adults have a different perspective on life.
One of the perks of growing up a worldschooled kid is that as an adult, I know that there is no one way to live life.
I’ve seen other people take hundreds of different approaches to life around the world. I know entrepreneurs, traditional business-people, parents, travelers, people who invest their life in one town or big project, young people, old people, and all of them have a unique perspective on how to go about living. In the end, I’ve learned that this means that there is no “right” way to do life. As a worldschooled adult, I know that I can choose any number of paths for myself. The key to success is not necessarily university-internship-job-house. I’m not afraid to try something new and forge my own path.
5. I’ve stopped outgrowing my Keens.
You laugh, but this is a huge milestone. Those things are expensive.
6. Worldschooled adults have a network
Not on cable, you dork. A network of people. One of the biggest perks of being a worldschooled adult is that I have access to an incredible network of inspiring people. I can’t tell you how many cool people I’ve met as a traveler. Most of them go on to help me with projects, inspire me to chase my dreams, or get me in touch with others who can help me reach even my craziest goals. When I participated in the Hero Round Table Project, I met dozens of crazy cool people who have boosted me on my way.
When you’re trying to make an unconventional life happen, contacts are everything. The people I know have helped me to start an online business, to plan trips, to get internships and other opportunities, and to reach people who need a dose of inspiration. The worldschooling community is extremely tight-knit. And my community reaches outside of the worldschooling bubble to include entrepreneurs and leaders around the world. How cool is that?
7. We know how to “adult.”
More importantly, I didn’t have to painstakingly learn to adult upon moving out. I already knew how to organize my life and make things happen. Something about being a worldschooler helps to ensure that you know most of the basics of being a grownup before you’re scrambling on your own. We learn to shop for things in foreign languages, negotiate rides on public transit, move into and out of dozens of places, cook with whatever’s available, clean, organize, and more. When you’re traveling as a family, everyone is part of the team and everyone has to pull their own weight if you want to get out of the campground and on the road before noon. You’re also prone to taking your own solo international trips as a teenager, so when you “move out,” it’s actually nothing new. Of course, I did forget that adults have to buy toilet paper, but hey. When you’re traveling, it kind of shows up on its own wherever you go. It was an honest mistake. ;)
8. We can GSD.
I have my network, I’ve seen other people follow their dreams passionately, and now it’s my turn. I know that I can do incredible things if I’m willing to put the work in. More importantly, I know how to take the first steps. I believe that anyone can set incredible goals for themselves and then achieve them through hard work and commitment. But how many people know how to take the first steps? If you knew what the first step towards achieving your biggest goal was, wouldn’t you take it? It can be hard to see that first step. But growing up a worldschooler trained me to find those early steps, organize my toolbox, find communities to help me forward, and above all else: believe that it’s possible to do hard things. It’s not just me. This is just a natural part of being raised unconventionally. When you’re raised on an unusual path, you learn to think differently. I would think that the same effect can be achieved anywhere in the world by encouraging exposure to incredible people, shooting for big goals, and learning how to challenge yourself.
9. We have friends across the world.
Does this go with the “I have a network” section? Kind of. Not really. Not all of my friends are people that I’d work alongside. My buddies are people who get crazy excited when they hear that I’m coming to their state, province, or side of the planet. I feel so lucky to have friends all over the world. I know that if I show up in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Canada, Guatemala, or a dozen other places, I’ll have a place to crash and people to catch up with. It’s an incredible feeling. Having worldwide friends changes your perspective on everything, from world politics to culture to everyday travel. We are all connected. I am beyond glad to be connected on such a global level! Shoutout to my peeps around the world. You’re all awesome!
10. We know that learning is a lifelong adventure, not restricted by institutions or age.
One cool thing about being a worldschooled adult is that you never really stop worldschooling. I may not be traveling with my family, asking Dad for math help and following Mom around local markets, but I’m still learning every day in the real world just as I used to. Worldschoolers realize that learning is not something restricted solely to books, schoolrooms, and scheduled hours. If you’re a worldschooler, you actively seek out life lessons and information from the world around you. Who says that has to change when you grow up? I take such joy in learning, exploring, and creating. I would credit that at least in part to my nontraditional education and time playing in the real world.
Let me say it one more time for those in the back: I do not think that worldschooling is the end-all-be-all. There are so many different ways to live life. No one is necessarily “better” than the others, just different. Worldschooling was by far the best option for me and went above and beyond in preparing me for adulthood. The tools worldschooled kids end up with are unique and useful in our ever-changing world. It’s not just a childhood that can benefit from worldschooling… there’s been an incredibly positive effect on my launch phase and early adulthood as well!
Did I miss any other perks of being a worldschooled adult? Let me know!