Life Lessons + Be Your Own Advocate

February 20, 2024

Hi dreamer, Emily here.

18ish years ago, I was involved in my first car accident. A red truck pulling snowmobiles T-boned me on December 26 as I was moving to Las Vegas with all my worldly possessions.

9 months later, I was involved in my second and worse accident.

Neither one was my fault. But in both cases, my car was totaled, and it took hours and effort to get back to a semblance of normal.

The second one especially was a real doozy, teaching me volumes about navigating complex auto and medical claims. It also taught me about gap insurance* and that I probably should've had it.

One of the biggest things I learned from especially the second experience:

You've got to be your own advocate. You get to be your own advocate. So be a good one.

Here's how this played out:

→I interviewed multiple personal injury attorneys to find out how the process worked and what to expect. At least at that time, personal injury attorneys were taking 30-35% of the settlement.

→Through a friend, I found an incredible attorney willing to take my case at just 3% if I would do most of the work 🙏🏻

→I basically functioned as my own legal team. I reviewed every letter from the at-fault driver's insurance company and worked to understand their requests and arguments.

→I drove all over kingdom come and collected all the medical records from multiple providers and imaging places.

→I drafted responses and arguments to be reviewed by the lawyer and put on their letterhead if they agreed.

→I kept track of all the medical bills, copays, and medical liens.

→I also navigated months of appointments with chiropractors, physical therapists, 3 different shoulder surgeons and my first major, out-of-state surgery.

A funny moment was when I flew back to Nebraska for my 1-month check-up and got the go-ahead to ditch the sling. When you pick up a sandwich, you use 2 hands to hold it together as you approach your mouth. My newly mobilized arm would only get the sandwich within 10 inches from my face so I had to take my face to the sandwich. Funny and embarrassing 😆

In this case, I had to be my own advocate because surgeries alone were looking like they'd cost more than the settlement would be, and definitely so if I worked with an attorney.

Life lessons:

Car accidents aside, there are lots of chances to proactively take good care of you. Here is a smattering of ideas for what this might look like:

  • Saying what you do and don't want.
  • Knowing who you can ask for what, and who you can't, or shouldn't.
  • Don't share everything with everyone.
  • Practice organization with your time, money, and stuff.
  • Don't let the preferences of others domineer yours, or keep you from learning and sharing what yours are.
  • Have the hard conversation you've been putting off.
  • Find even moments of solitude to really see yourself.
  • Ask yourself, "How can I make this easy?" This doesn't make you lazy, it just helps you strip away the expectations of others.

Thought for parents: If you're not already, let your late teen and YA kids do their own adult stuff. Support them of course, but don't commandeer experiences that will help them learn to take good care of themselves. I was the ripe young age of 26 when navigating the above and am grateful I got to learn that I could take good care of me.

You are the only one you're guaranteed to go through life with, so hopefully you take good care of you just like anything you hope lasts a long time—your car, your home, your favorite leather shoes. You matter way more than any of those.

That's it for now. Stay wonderfully you, and keep dreaming and doing.

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