What I Do and Don’t Know

The older I get, the more I realize how inadequate my education was. My writing, my strongest skill, is littered with grammatical errors. I am passionate about the injustices I’ve discovered in the years since I’ve started educating myself, instead of relying on my parents to inform me about the world. When two people are your only constant access to information, your window of what the world looks like is very small. I am amazed every day to the point of emotional overwhelm by the things I learn, simply by watching documentaries about the universe and world.

The place we’ve evolved in is an indescribably tiny world in an incomprehensibly huge universe. In the minds of fundamentalists, this universe can easily be held together by a human-like being who cares about what we do to pleasure each other but not about what happens in war. This has, at least, been my experience. I’m also not excited about January, and I haven’t talked to many people who are. I’m worried, and my anxieties are catastrophic. Perhaps my fears are unwarranted. People from my grandparents’ generation keep reminding me that these things take time. The generation after mine isn’t so sure.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know a lot of things, but I’ve been taught to pretend like I do. That was, in the end, the whole point of competitive Christian homeschool debate: to persuade through performance. That’s why a specific category of human almost always won the biggest competitions. My perception of the world has been altered drastically so many times in my life, that I cannot expect it to remain constant. What I know is that I know a lot less than people who had a standard education.

Writing a memoir about being deprived of a normal life is a complex effort. It is both about writing what I know and what I don’t know. Like I said earlier, the older I get, the more I realize I don’t understand, or I understand at a very rudimentary level.

For instance, the human body. I don’t know much about it. When people refer to organs, what goes through my head is memories of cutting out coloring pages of the organs so my little siblings could glue them onto silhouettes of their bodies that we’d drawn on large pieces of paper. The heart was in red and blue crayon, glued on behind the pink lungs, and below those are the organs I don’t remember very well. Mom read the same books every year, and it was my job to make the copies of the coloring pages so each of the kids could color them in while mom read from a book called “My Magnificent Machine” – a selection of Biblical devotionals about some basic interesting facts about the body that were palatable for children. The people I spend the most time with understand that I need to have common things explained to me every day. I have to be honest that I don’t know what a lot of words mean, and I struggle with conversations about anything medical. I edited this paragraph after some googling because it was more embarrassing than this, too.

While there’s validity in the wisdom of realizing that I ultimately know nothing, I think this problem is also unique. There is genuinely a great deal that I am ignorant about. I feel that the next part of my life looks like writing my way through educating myself. I am uncertain about many things and I want to learn and explore more, instead of trying so hard to recover the past in a way that makes sense to read.

Thank you all so much for reading and supporting me. It has meant a chance at a better place to live, and the opportunity to return to my work in earnest. This month I will be writing less about certainties and more about uncertainties. I’m feeling festive this year, so we’ll discuss seasonal things, like gratitude and depression. I appreciate you all so much.