I know what you are thinking and most of it is probably true. Many of the stereotypes of being a homeschooled child, both good and bad, are true. I happened to be one of the homeschooled kids whose parents made me do the work and one that looks back on it with fond memories. There were many life lessons that prepared me for adulthood and ultimately the career I’ve found myself in.
My parents raised my older brother, myself, and my younger sister as God fearing children of the Bible-belt South. We lived in North Carolina and if you are unfamiliar with North Carolina don’t let the name fool you it’s the SOUTH. My father worked multiple jobs as he earned his masters and eventually his doctorate degree. It’s weird, but my dad’s an MD. Not a medical doctor, but a Christian counselor. Imagine the type of dad whose favorite movie is Harriet the Spy, not due to action, but because of the family dynamics and character development that takes place in the movie. It was a great way for him to sharpen his counseling skills without practicing on us live children, any more, that day. This is all in a positive tone and it sets the stage for the lessons that I learned.
My mother was a high school graduate with no other schooling. She always seemed to feel like that fact made her less of a teacher for us kids, but in my eye’s, it made her relevant, kept learning as something that was attainable, and something she never shied away from. The very fact that she decided to home school us three is a testament to the fact that she had decided she could do anything! She was right. My mother took most our teaching onto her shoulders leaving my father as the principle. Meaning the one that came in when we pushed mom too far.
Being a home school student my entire life I’ve always wondered what would be different about me if I’d gone to school or what advantages and disadvantages I have gained through my life experiences. This afternoon I found myself analyzing that very topic much in the way my father analyzed his favorite movie and his favorite subjects, us, his kids. Here are some points that jumped out at me right away.
1. I Learned to Be Self-Taught– Yes, my mother was my teacher, but from the time of being able to read I was largely self-taught. My mother would cover a new subject, but most homeschooling books and curriculums are designed for the student to be able to be self-guided. Much like being an adjuster you learn the lessons and apply them as needed in my career. There isn’t a definitive guide on how to be an independent auto damage adjuster, you kind of “wing” it and learn along the way. Without the ability to be self-guided you can become paralyzed with decisions only you can make. Is it 3hrs of 4hrs of damage on the fender? Pick one and if you are wrong, learn from it.
2. I Learned Scheduling — Having never gone to school, waking up every day and being able to roll out of bed, get ready, and start school without ever leaving my home has made me not very fond of rigid work schedules. Why do I have to be in an office at 8am? I don’t know why either, but today I think I’ll start at 7 and get done early. By being an independent auto damage adjuster I can set my own work schedule. My mother tried a handful of times to get us to have a “schedule,” but ultimately, I thrived starting earlier and finishing earlier than my siblings so a synced schedule didn’t work for me. Finding what works for you as an independent adjuster is important.
3. I Learned Self-Motivation– Closely tied to schedule is motivation. I learned that if I wanted to get done with school I could get motivated and get it DONE. With no one pushing me to get done by a certain time the task fell on me to get motivated to get it done. As an independent adjuster, you can easily slip into laziness and being unmotivated. Without someone holding you accountable for each hour it can be easy to hit “next” on Netflix instead of picking up the phone to call your new assignments.
4. I Learned Accountability — It’s not easy being self-taught. Sometimes you teach yourself wrong. I’ll never forget the massive ball of yarn my head turned into when I got into Algebra in high school. I had a self-guided Algebra book, good ol’ Saxon Math, and I thought I understood what I was learning. I was strong in math up to this point, but somewhere I built my Algebra knowledge on a not so solid foundation. By Algebra 2 I looked like I wouldn’t pass. It was hard at first to admit that I had done something wrong. I had taught myself WRONG. I was embarrassed and ashamed. My senior year I re-took Algebra with my dad teaching me and did good on the SAT’s. Thanks Dad! It was tough to admit, but I had no one to blame, but myself. Being an independent auto damage adjuster you are your own boss, your own employee, and you are fully accountable for everything that you do. Even if it is embarrassing, admit your mistake and learn from it.
5. I Learned to Work by Myself — This is obviously one of those points that can be a disadvantage. Being home schooled, self-guided, with my own schedule, self-motivated, I don’t always play nice with those around me. It is an awful lot of ME. I can work as a team, but I clearly tend to blaze a trail even if I shouldn’t have. A positive spin on is that this has helped me to not be distracted by what others are doing. I can lower my head and get something done with the best of them. Some people need a team to work with, but as an independent auto damage adjuster you really don’t get that luxury. Pick yourself up by the boot straps and get it done.
6. I Learned That It’s About People– My father become a preacher and much of our life revolved around what God was doing in our life and the lives of others around us. We were often presented with welcomed and unwelcomed interruptions that our family had to pause, “our life”, to help others. I’ve tried hard to keep this mindset. It isn’t just about me and me getting a paycheck. Each vehicle owner has a story they want and need to share. I need to connect with them in a moment where their life, much like their car, feels like a wreck. This means giving up extra time to love on the people I meet. If I’m only concerned about me, my schedule, my work, my paycheck, I will miss great opportunities to engage, connect, and share with awesome people.
Whether you went to school or were home schooled, I encourage you to not look past the people you are engaging with. It’s easy as auto adjusters to see claim numbers and not the lives behind them.
What lessons has your life and schooling taught you about being an adjuster?
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