Freedom, Fear, and Unschooling

After I left school and started unschooling,  I had freedom, I put my trust in myself, and  I did a lot of healing work. Still there was a fear inside me that took me years to be fully aware of and make the choice not to let it control my actions.

Recently I rediscovered a poem I wrote during my second year of homeschooling/unschooling in high school, when I was about 17 years old that surprisingly addresses this fear.

In the beginning of the poem I say:

But once the song’s over or the race is done
I’m just me again:
Scared shitless
Living heartless
Terrified of investing myself
In something or someone else

(You can read the whole thing here.)

I had trouble convincing people about unschooling, freedom, and their ability to direct their own lives partly because of my own emotional wounds regarding the subject. But I realized years later I also had a fear of being effective, fear of success, in talking to people about freedom and unschooling. There was an element of self-sabotage involved.

There was a part of me that knew it was possible I could very effective in talking about these subjects: I could help inspire people to leave school, or let their children leave school, have freedom, be trusted, and pursue their dreams.

That would be a truly wonderful thing and have so much meaning to me. For some reason, I think because of, not in spite of, that fact it’s also very scary. I’ve found that:

The more meaning something has to a person, the scarier it can be.

The more meaning something has the more painful the disappointments can be. You can feel pressure and new responsibility. With real success your life can change. And I always try to remember when I feel anxious:

Change, even if it’s good change, can be scary.

Writing these blog posts about unschooling, freedom, trust, diversity, and healing, then hearing how some have connected with them and been appreciative of them has had so much meaning to me! I’ve also definitely felt some fear and anxiety: I’ve heard from my toxic voice as my uncle Robert Gerzon calls it.

But the other thoughts that have come to my mind are:

“I love my life!” and “I feel free. I feel like writing is setting me free.”

More and more I’m letting parts of my true self come out and be heard. And it feels good! It feels like it’s taken years and epic journeys to get to this point, actually.

I guess it’s good to remember that when I feel disappointed or frustrated that there aren’t more people trying to learn and live in freedom or pursue what has meaning to them when they do have freedom: it takes time and is challenging.

Still, I hope that in talking about my own experiences it encourages others to make the choice to be free, the choice to use their freedom, the choice to follow what has meaning to them, and finally, the choice to do what has meaning to them regardless of fears that may stand in their way.


Filed under adult unschoolers, change the world, freedom, homeschooling, lifestyle design, unschooling, worldschooling

9 responses to “Freedom, Fear, and Unschooling

  1. Hannah

    Really well written, Eli 🙂 We all have fears, and times in our lives that are trying sometimes traumatizing to us, but our experiences make us who we are. If you aim for good no matter how much bad gets in the way eventually you will reach your goals…Thanks for talking about these things, and sharing those wonderful life lessons…

    • Aww thank you Hannah! It means so much to me to know you’ve been reading and enjoying. Yeah, I was just talking to my mom about how we often get distracted by obstacles but if we just focus on the goal that matters to us, usually will will just reach it.

      Looking forward to seeing you and your mom at the Northeast Unschooling Conference in a just a few weeks!

  2. Excellent exploration on a very loaded topic–freedom. I like when you write how, “it takes time and is challenging.” Sounds like the definition of a quest tale. I find there are big leaps forward and always small or big challenges waiting within, for example, relationships that I have, that challenge me to be awake within my life. Or, to make choices that affirm health and self-respect.

    Meditation has recently come back into me life and I realized that it’s not only for facing big problems, but it for the small challenges, to cherish my awareness. It seems so obvious to me, but I realize that the way I treat someone in a small ways (with a sincere question, a smile or simply with silence) can totally change that person’s day or even life.

    • Wow, it’s cool how much this post seems to be getting different people thinking about different things…. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Yeah, freedom is a loaded and important topic.

      I think you’re right in how much you talk about making a choice about facing challenges and just putting in the effort to connect with people in a kind way. The actual power we have to affect other people is something I’ve been thinking about a lot too.

      It’s almost easier to think we can’t have any effect but the truth is, sometimes, we really can: on individuals and the world in ways we might not realize. So let’s all put out that positive energy! 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for sharing about your fears! I get intimidated sometimes seeing other young adult unschoolers who seem like they are 100% confident all the time, and I start to wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Of course everyone has fears and doubts, but it’s easy to feel like the only one sometimes. So thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone, I really needed that.

    I’ll be at NEUC, hope to see you there!

    • That’s so cool to hear you say that Bonnie! Yeah, it’s the same for me: even if I know they must have some fears, I can get a little intimidated by unschoolers who seem totally confident all the time too!

      The other thing is: it is easier to have a lot of confidence in what you’re doing if you’re not doing much! That’s why I was saying about the more meaning something has to you the scarier it can be.

      I just checked out your blog and it looks cool:

      Great to see another unschooler doing the “uncollege” thing and I like the line “unboring life” too! Glad to hear your gonna be at NEUC, I’ll be doing some sessions about world travel, hope you can make it to them, but def at least say hello.

  4. I love this post, Eli! It’s so true about the fear thing. The more something means to you, and the more possibility that it will change your life, the scarier it is (that’s something I’ve been dealing with a lot lately…)! I also totally get what you mean about writing being freeing. Starting my blog was a great idea, and it’s really helped me to feel much more comfortable and confident in myself and in expressing my opinions and views on the world. Something I really appreciate about your blog is how honest you are. That’s always been something I strive to be in my own writing, to express not only the good things but also the doubts and fears, and it does feel good to know that I’m not the only unschooler who isn’t supremely confident all the time! 😛

    P.S. I passed along a Lemonade award to your blog a little while back…

  5. This post really hit home with me. I go through this everyday it seems. Thanks for sharing.

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