I still remember the moment in 2014 as if it were yesterday. My pastor called my parents and me to the platform, my tassel was turned and my neck hugged, and there I was: a homeschool graduate. I had been looking forward to that moment for nearly twelve years and now it had finally come. I had successfully made it through. My homeschool experience was over.

I was a good student, especially through high school when I was old enough to know that all this seemingly random information might come in handy someday. I did my work and got good grades, mostly without tears or threats. Sure, I had some subjects I loved (biology) and some I loathed (plane geometry, spelling), and for my senior year I looked forward to the tantalizing promise of NO MORE SCHOOL. What normal teenager buried under Abeka Spanish 2 doesn’t dream about the day when a piece of paper declares him or her successful and calls a cease-fire on the endless testing? (It’s Friday! Noooo! Time for another spelling test!)

Little did I know that the months that followed graduation would bring such listlessness and purposelessness into my life. I’m a confessed type-A personality—one of those overachievers who sometimes drives herself crazy. But I’m not the only one to report a postgraduation feeling of . . . bewilderment. My aunt, who homeschooled and graduated my three cousins, calls this phenomenon “Post-Homeschool Syndrome.”

It’s not that I missed the schoolwork; I missed the feeling of accomplishment. For years I’d known when I woke up in the morning that my responsibility and chief goal was to make it through that day’s assignments. (This was established after many conversations with my mother that began, “But Mom, I can do all of that bookwork tomorrow!”)

I also missed the feeling of identity. Homeschooling was more than just an educational choice for our family. Dad refers to it as his “experiment,” and it really was our life. (“Life is school and school is life,” as Mom says.)

The epic adventure of acquiring an education without the help of the state system required courage, self-discipline, creativity, and a sense of humor. At least in our family, the sense of humor was an absolute necessity. Extremely useful for the times Mom would declare “You have GOT to concentrate and GO DO SCHOOL!” And then a few minutes later call “Come and get your socks off of the living room floor RIGHT NOW!” I enjoyed a sense of camaraderie with other homeschoolers as we traded stories, survival tips, and those jokes that most public schoolers just don’t get.

I thought of myself as a Christian, an American, and a Homeschooler.

But now I wasn’t a homeschooler anymore. Right? I was graduated, turning eighteen, and applying for a Bible institute. (I was accepted. Yay!) My journey as a homeschooler had ended, and I felt a little lost.

But then it dawned on me. What made me a homeschooler in the first place? My parents didn’t choose this educational path so that I could make A’s, get a super ACT score, and be accepted into college. They wanted me to have a Christian worldview, love learning, and be a strong person. Homeschool is a way of life!

If the goal is high school graduation, then that is completed, and I’m done. The textbooks are closed and the final transcripts recorded. But “Life is school, and school is life.” I’m going to be using the skills homeschooling taught me daily; I’m going to be constantly learning from the thousands of sources Mom introduced me to. I will face the world with courage, self-discipline, creativity, and a sense of humor. I will be loyal to my faith and to my family, have a purpose for my future, and experience great thankfulness for the way I was raised.

I am a homeschooler for life. 

This article was published in the July/August 2016 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine.

Naomi Jackson is a self-professed nerd and proud homeschool alumni. She enjoys passionate discussions about history, reading voraciously, and writing incessantly. Naomi is currently studying at Bill Rice Bible Institute and plans on continuing her education at Pensacola Christian College, where she will major in political science.