“You need to call the insurance company.”
With those seven words, I felt tiny. In the wake of several major hail storms, our roof had been damaged and required assessment and (eventual) replacement. It should have been straightforward, but insurance intimidates me. Oh sure, I get the idea of it: I can explain the basics and probably correctly use words like claim and deductible. But otherwise, calling the insurance company feels like going to the principal’s office, while pretending to be a grown-up. The image of one child perched on another’s shoulders while wearing a trench coat and using a high-pitch gruff voice seems about right. That’s what it feels like dealing with insurance. I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m just a 35-year-old kid, and they’re going to see right through me.
The red tape scares me too. Knowing that every time I think I’m done, that I’ll be told that there’s another form and another form, and another voicemail I have to leave every time I need a question answered, and I have to leave my phone off silent, so that I can pickup every unknown number that comes through, because maybe it’s the adjuster or the mortgage company or the contractor, and that I don’t know anything about the process so I feel like also feel like a little old lady in a bustling crowd, apologizing profusely and awkwardly because I just don’t know where to go or what to do next, and sonny, could you please tell me?
But the thing that scares me most is the thought of getting scammed. I mentioned our roofing woes to friends, who proceeded to tell me every nightmarish story of roofing scams they ever encountered. It reminded me of when I was pregnant: everyone I knew told me their horrifying tale of what went wrong. They meant well; they always wanted to educate so that the absolute worst thing ever doesn’t happen to you. But you’re still left paralyzed with fear.
Sometime during my possum-like state, I realized that this was just a grown-up moment. Thomas Edison said “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” That’s what it felt like. Learning to be a grown-up means embracing the fact that you’re immature to start with.
Never pass up an opportunity to increase your self-respect.
I was going to just have to feel foolish and ask foolish immature questions that most grown-ups already know. If this were a college class, I’d have no problem feeling dumb, because I’d know that I was there to learn. Was life any different? More storms were going to come, and I would have to deal with the aftermath of deductibles and shady contractors and restricted escrows. But re-framing the problem as though it was just an opportunity to learn completely changed my attitude. The notion that a person must already know how to do this grown-up thing or that adult behavior: that’s just petty, unproductive, and basically a form of shaming. I was shaming myself and getting nowhere. Once I took the “you-should-already-know-this” aspect out of the equation, I moved on like any normal, well-adjusted human being.
I’m still in the midst of dealing with the insurance company, mortgage company, a property manager with molasses for brains, and a roofing contractor who actually wears a gold chain. But every time I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself of how much I’ve learned in just a few weeks. I’ll go completely mental sometime around mid-June, but I’m sure I’ll come out of it better than ever. Right? RIGHT?
So what kind of “you-should-already-know-how-to-do-this” hangups do you have? Confess to me in the comments!
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