I am not a fearless DIYer.
They say confession is good for the soul, so here it goes: I am a slow, cautious and overly fearful DIYer. I get bogged down in the details of a project and paralyzed in problem-solving. I’m intimidated by new tools and techniques. Sometimes I just wish I could turn it all over to someone else because I’m completely overwhelmed.
Sometimes I feel like the worst DIY blogger ever because aren’t we all supposed to be endlessly inspired, driven, skillful and confident?
You guys, I follow some seriously impressive and talented DIYers. Sandra from Sawdust Girl can build just about anything and the results are incredible. Kristi from Addicted2Decorating is tackling her whole house renovations from drywall to tiling to installing kitchen cabinets, doing the majority of the work by herself. Cassity from Remodelaholic has completed multiple house remodels with no sign of slowing down. Mandi from Vintage Revivals is one of my long-standing blogging heroes and the epitome of fearless DIYing.
Gosh, I look up to these ladies and sit in awe of their skill and creativity. I wonder if they’ve ever completely come undone over hopelessly stripped screws or say, a broken ladder? Or put off starting a project for days and days and days because some portion of the plan was a bit scary? Maybe, maybe not.
My point is that there are these fantastic and brilliant DIYers out there and at times I get so frustrated at my own inexperience and anxieties. But I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”. I tend to dislike pithy little sayings like that until something clicks in my life and it fits perfectly and I’m like: “Oh. I get it now.”
I’m kind of a tenderfoot DIYer, learning as I go. I just bought my first hand-saw last week. I own a drill and an electric sander, and that’s about the extent of my current power tool collection. This is our first house and my first time stretching my own little DIY wings. This is my beginning.
At the same time, I’m thinking back over the last several years and some of the skills I’ve acquired and that feels very empowering. A few years ago, I had no idea how to install a light fixture myself. A few years ago I had never scraped popcorn ceilings and turned them into smooth, bright surfaces. A few years ago I had never stripped wallpaper, or cut copper pipe, or painted upholstery. And I was nervous and anxious about starting each one of those projects. But I was able to learn (and make mistakes) while doing them and accomplish my goals.
So I just wanted to level with you today: This where I am. I have really big, wild ideas and sometimes I lack the experience needed to execute them. I’m on a journey to acquire those skills. Sometimes those skills scare the crap out of me. Maybe you’ve felt that way too?
I thought I’d share a few things I do when I’m feeling particularly un-fearless about starting a project or trying something new.
#1: Hit The Books
Like Hermione Granger, whom I uncannily resembled as a child, my first step is research. I frequently spend several hours online reading product reviews, tutorials or checking out YouTube videos on techniques before jumping into a new project. I like to have a plan formulated first, before I ever pick up a tool or run out to the store for supplies. If I’m feeling nervous about something new, I boost my confidence by becoming an internet expert on it.
Sometimes I’m still not feeling completely confident after exhausting my online research capabilities…
#2: Phone A Friend
For me, this friend is frequently my dad. He seems to know how to do just about everything when it comes to making things and fixing things! Sometimes I just feel better if he’s run through something with me over the phone, and sometimes he’s awesome enough to take a little trip over here and help me out or I take my project to him (like when I needed his input and garage full of power tools for these agate and copper sconces). Other times, the friend is another blogger with more experience in the subject who is kind enough to answer a few questions or make some recommendations.
Hit a speed bump in the middle of a project? Phone a friend for advice or even just plain commiseration. Having that support network in place definitely helps ease my anxiety about potential problems.
#3: Get Your Feet Wet
Just start. I can easily let myself become paralyzed by perfectionism and preparation and sometimes I just have to actually begin the project. Dip my toes into whatever the project is so it becomes easier to dive in. Since even the best-laid plans can flop unexpectedly, sometimes you just need to go for it, get the ball rolling and then deal with obstacles as they arise. Run into trouble? Repeat tips 1 and 2, but then ultimately get right back into DIYing. Complete a small step and let that confidence propel you towards your next goal.
If you’ve ever sat at the beginning of a new project and felt completely overwhelmed too, I hope this post helps you! I spent a lot of time chatting about my fears in DIYing, and yet… I keep on DIYing! There’s just something so rewarding about conquering difficulties and seeing something come to life under your own two hands! The joy of a job well done, the satisfaction of hurdles cleared, the achievement of the fruits of our labors – this is why we DIY.
I wish you courage and success in your creative endeavors!