How I Learned To Love DIY

“Does anyone here know how to do things? Because I don’t.”

One of my screenwriting professors asked this question when she was trying to sync the class projector with a DVD. It was one of the greatest and most relatable sentences I’d ever heard, as I get stuck trying to accomplish basic things as well.

Last month, I relocated from NYC to LA, and that meant all new furniture and household appliances. Like many 20-somethings, I bought my stuff from reasonably priced IKEA, which is Disneyland for home decor fanatics and overwhelmingly large to folks like me who just want to get in and get out. After I hauled my bed, box spring, metal frame, kitchen table, night stand, ottoman, chairs and multiple lamps into the condo, I had to start assembling, and I wasn’t excited about it. Aside from self-doubt, which was a result of being called weak and useless one too many times growing up, I didn’t know which item to start with.

For better or worse, I’ve never really enjoyed DIY or having to put things together. I had fun building stuff as a child, but that was before bills, resumes, grocery shopping, DMV visits and adult responsibilities came into the picture and needed to fit in my schedule. Anytime I’ve tried to help with DIY projects, I’ve been pushed out. A former boyfriend of mine really enjoyed building things but refused to let me have a role in any of his projects, as he felt I’d just slow down the process or screw up. I got used to moving out of the way and thinking I just didn’t have the personality or skills to build things.

The administrative details of life can also feel inconvenient when you’re trying to achieve something amazing professionally, and that’s why sites like Task Rabbit are so popular. Pay someone to do whatever you lack the time or interest in doing yourself — it’s as simple as that. Task Rabbit even has an IKEA Assembly page, and the high number of assemblers tells me Internet users turn to this option a lot.

I could have called upon Task Rabbit or a handyman to build all my furniture, and though the fees wouldn’t have been a major issue, I knew I had to give it an honest try myself before recruiting outside parties. I only spent a few years in Girl Scouts, but I know a thing or two about being resourceful, so I channeled my inner elementary school girl and got to work my first day in the apartment.

It helped that I didn’t have much to do for a week. Classes at UCLA hadn’t begun yet and I was still on the hunt for full-time work, so it’s not like I moved to LA for a specific job and had to hit the ground running on day one. I was also pretty sad about leaving behind my NYC friends for the first couple days in Southern California, so having a handful of physical tasks distracted me from the temporary loneliness and “homesickness” I felt. I played several comedies as I worked on my furniture, and in a weird way, the movies kept me company. Though I was nervous about balancing the handiwork with submitting job applications, I actually appreciated having something other than resumes to focus on for a brief period of time.

I finished the bed frame, ottoman, and night stand by day one and had completed the kitchen table and chairs set two days later, and though I sometimes worry the seats aren’t as sturdy as they could be, I’m proud I made them myself. It might seem ridiculous that I feel good about doing something so basic and fairly uncomplicated, but in the past, others have underestimated what I could do based on my tiny frame, so I’ve always believed I’m not made for DIY.

I’m not Ms. Fix It, Martha Stewart or Mary Poppins, but you don’t have to be the strongest person in the room to decorate and populate that very room. If you don’t have the time to do simple things like assemble the adorable new couch you just bought, don’t be afraid to ask for help putting it together. Don’t be afraid to try either. You might surprise yourself with what you can do.

What’s your experience with DIY? Do you love it? Hate it? Do tell in the comments section.

Featured image via ShutterStock.