Experiencing senior year from the sidelines

When Olivia Rodrigo first released the tracklist for her latest album “GUTS” I excitedly texted my best friend over the track “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” gushing over the upcoming rock/pop song that I knew would become an anthem for homeschooled girls everywhere. 

As I expected, the lyrics rang true as someone who left the high school culture for a routine of online classes and independent schoolwork. The homeschooled girls on the internet seemed to agree too, I thought to myself as I watched a TikTok of the song playing over Pedro Pascal’s laugh-crying meme with the caption “Me listening to this song as a literal homeschooled girl.” 

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

Rodrigo has been homeschooled her whole life and the song most likely originates from her untraditional teenage upbringing of acting and stardom versus homeroom periods and homecoming. 

A Genius page on “ballad of a homeschooled girl” writes that, “The song’s title alludes to the common albeit faulty notion that homeschooled children are socially stunted.” So although I did not switch to homeschooling to pursue a career in acting (this story would probably be a lot more interesting if that were the case), I did find the song’s message to be relatable and comforting. 

When I was a freshman in high school, I created a bucket list of everything I wanted to accomplish in the next four years of my life. 

Standouts included getting a boyfriend, having a friend group, becoming editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, getting into honor societies, becoming a cheerleader and creating a college application that would secure me a spot at my dream school. 

With a level of determination I believe can be attributed to my ENTJ personality, I managed to check off every single one of these and more off my bucket list. 

I had it all until I didn’t. 

My downfall came with the deterioration of my mental health. Managing all the different aspects of high school caused me to ignore what my brain really needed. So, a swirl of toxicity, one messy breakup, several mental breakdowns and a treatment facility later — I found myself finishing off the rest of my senior year from my dining room table. 

Homeschooling had its positive aspects, mainly being that I was able to create my own schedule. My classes were divided so that I only had one to two a day which allowed me to spend the rest of my time working as a daycare teacher. I was also allowed to choose my own lessons and tailor each of my classes to my own interests.

But being sidelined from my senior year experience, something I had been looking forward to all of high school took a greater toll on me than expected. I left right before the experiences that every high schooler looks forward to consequently missing out on prom, college decision day, graduation and yearbook signing. 

Leaving my positions and various clubs behind was also difficult, as I had prided myself on my extracurriculars. As the Genius page previously mentioned, I felt stunted. It was as if my social development had paused and I was stuck in a period of numbness. Eventually, I began to substitute many of these experiences with my own homeschooled version. 

Deleting the Pinterest board of coordinating burgundy prom outfits, I opted for a Barbie pink dress (while my would-be date opted for tones of gray and blue but pink wouldn’t have gone with this anyway!) and I danced the night away at my godsister’s prom. 

I skipped out on graduation and allowed my mom to take pictures of me in my cap and gown for Facebook while holding my diploma that my teacher said “was at the actual ceremony so it’s kind of like you were still there!” 

I watched through social media as the people I had spent my life going to school with got their full circle moments as they posed in front of their elementary schools celebrating their senior status. My moment came at a surprise party for my graduation, with all my favorite people and a plethora of Boston University decorations. 

I was stuck on the sidelines for my senior year but with time, space and lots of therapy, I came to appreciate my unique experience. Homeschool taught me how to create a healthy routine for myself. It showed me how to become involved with my education in a productive way. It gave me true control over my life and for the first time, and I didn’t have to live up to the standards that teachers and peers had set for me. 

Finally, it gave me full power to revel in the angstyness of “ballad of a homeschooled girl.”

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