Homeschoolers are not surviving their education. They aren't getting through. Generally speaking, their life is not endless drudgery. In fact, their lives involve a lot more sleep than their schooled peers, a lot more hot food, a lot more lounging time, a lot more reading (for those so inclined), and probably if we are honest a lot more video game time for a whole bunch of them. Their lives are a lot less stressful, less pressured, and less hurried. For better or worse, I think these are the basic facts. I'm not judging. School is a form of stress, no matter what else it is. And whether or not you believe stress is good for developing character.
My kids have access to several hundred fewer choices of friends than their schooled peers. My kids have friends, just not a couple hundred age-mates. They probably only have about 30 age-mates, if we are generous about the range of ages included. I bet my daughter occasionally wishes she could flounce to the opposite side of the cafeteria and plunk down with a whole brand new group of kids to hang out with (much as I often did.) My son will never flounce anywhere and probably won't ever give a rat's ass for more than a generous handful of people at a time. He is profoundly introverted, much like both of his parents.
What I've noticed with homeschooled kids is that friends matter a whole lot less. They matter. Friends will always matter. But the idea of seeing a best friend every single day, or talking to them every single day, is as foreign and unnecessary for most homeschooled kids as it is for most adults. I suggested my (slightly less introverted than the rest of the family) daughter call her bff last week. She blinked at me and said, "Mom, we've seen each other three times recently." Case closed. The implication in her words: for heaven's sake, mother, just how needy do you think I am? Let a girl breathe once in a while. Give a kid some space, jeeze. Can you not see I'm busy wearing my pjs and reading with the cat in my lap? Eye roll.
Prisoners and soldiers bond with their friends on a deeper level. On par I think, with the level of friendship we see in schooled kids. Because in those kinds of situations, common bond is life. Common bond can sustain you through massive stress. It does not break my heart to consider that an important part of socialization in homeschooling culture is learning to be content on your own.