To DIY or Not to DIY

My name is Debra, which is Hebrew for the bee. I am a worker bee.

Confucius said, “If you want a job done right, do it yourself.” Experience has taught me this is true. I’m kind of a Jacqueline of all trades so I usually am the one to “do the job.” I’ve seen more instances where people spend more time looking for someone to do a job or waiting for someone else to do a job, rather than just doing it themselves. Trust me, we have a virtual neighborhood forum and I read copious threads from people needing someone to hem pants, fix a faucet leak or pull weeds in the time it took me to do all three backwards and in heels. I’ve built about 95% of two house additions myself, do my own house repairs, landscaping, upholstery, minor auto care, cooking and cleaning. Am I foolish? Perhaps I am the one whose approach is flawed or so I have been told.

I had lunch with a group a while back and when I said I was tearing out old flooring and prepping the floors for new surfaces, one of them said, “That’s what I pay people to do,” and changed the subject. I had another husband of a friend of mine say my DIY approach is obsolete and of no value because we all specialize now in society. Of course, his husband called me when they had a mechanical breakdown on their furnace! But in both cases, no one had any interest in my work. I don’t want to think people I know socially look down on my work or those who work with their hands, but I kind of felt that way.

The do-it-yourself aspect of my character spills over in the workplace, too, for better or worse. This won’t make me sound like much of a team player but time and again, I am either let down by a colleague who drops the ball or my work is stolen for which another takes the credit. Trusting others are doing their jobs is often a disappointment and surprise. But employers love me because I will get the job done.

I was raise in a household where there was no discussion about who to get to do a job. It never occurred to me people did that. Truly. Dad had an I.Q. of 169 and really could do anything, effortlessly. Mom, too. I’ve never known a better painter, tiler, decorator or landscaper, for example. I learned from them and found the fewer hands involved, the better. Now, having someone working and bossing me around in my own house makes me uneasy. And there are some tender egos in the trades who can make your life miserable if you try to be boss.

I know not everyone is like my family or me. And I understand why those who have the money but lack the time, interest or abilities in touching anything mechanical. But does my approach really have little to no value? I have saved tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, and added immense equity to my property. I can’t even imagine what I’ve saved on my own appliance and mechanical repairs. I also think of my house as my canvass for my creative palette, with its recreated spaces. If not everyone appreciates my abilities or my house or believes I am foolish or out of step, I can feel accomplished everywhere I look. At least I have that.

I don’t understand anyone thinking people working with their hands is beneath them. I have a Masters degree and am a professional and I don’t think being mechanically capable is a weakness. In fact, I think it is quite the contrary. I wouldn’t like to think the one who dismissed my accomplishments may resent my abilities because I don’t want to appear arrogant or judgmental.

Well, back to my tiling project now that this blog post and the yard work is done. Silly me.