DIY or Don’t: a Lesson on Overcommitting yourself

Hey 20 Somethings! As I’ve written about before, we have come to see that our twenties are not what we expected it to be, but this is a time for us to learn and grow. We may fail or we may succeed. We may make mistakes and we may learn.

Today, I am talking about quitting. Were you ever told that quitting is not an option when you were growing up? Were you told that you are not a quitter? I’m sure a lot of us have to agree that we have heard this from our parents or caregivers at one point or another, in varying degrees. Granted I have always been an overachiever, but at one point in High School, I even remember having to justify to my mom why I wanted to quit swim team, an activity I had felt forced to participate in for at least ten years.

As an overachiever, I naturally try to do too much at once. I pour my heart and soul into everything I do, and let me also point out that I am very stubborn with whatever I put my mind to. I don’t take quitting lightly, and I usually face an internal struggle any time I have to make a huge change in my course of action. During college, it was a struggle to admit to myself that Chemical Engineering just wasn’t going to be my major. After college, it was a struggle to admit to myself that a career in banking just wasn’t for me.

Today, I have to admit defeat on a DIY project that I just could not seem to complete (and yes, I did just put in that much background detail for a DIY fail because this blog is all about the journey). I wanted to repaint an old table and two stools to save some cash. Sounds easy enough right? Living in New York, I only had a limited amount of time to really make this project happen. I planned to use my roommate’s empty room (after she moved out), which meant that I had to work indoors.

In examining the table, it seemed to have thick layers of paint as it looked intentionally distressed. I borrowed my Dad’s power sander and researched how to use one, but through my searching, I also got the idea to use paint stripper to get a more even surface. It’s so easy! It’s comes right off! Not. If you have never worked with paint stripper, let me just tell you it is an incredibly harsh chemical to work with. You need to use gloves, wear a mask, and be prepared for some serious clean-up, which I definitely underestimated. Moreover, you really need to understand the surface you are working with. I thought this table was wood, but it actually turned out to be particle board…not legitimate wood.

Paint stripper on particleboard…not right.

As I began to realize this was no longer a simple DIY, I got even more frustrated with myself. I did not want to quit. I was so excited to use my thrifty, creative skills and bask in the pride of mastering something I have never done before. Once I realized the table was too massive to salvage, I decided to at least try to work with the stools, but I was running out of time.

I wanted this DIY project to be about persevering, not admitting defeat. Finally, I made the conscious decision to cut myself some slack. This wasn’t going to be my success story. I was too busy, too limited, yet I was trying to do too much. Nothing bad would come of me quitting this project; my pride would survive.

We must allow ourselves to give in at times. As I said before, our twenties is not a time to have it all figured out. This is a time to figure ourselves out and appreciate ourselves for who we are. Why kill ourselves to overcommit ourselves? This is a time to enjoy life and enjoy the journey in front of us.

Maybe I would be saying something else if that table was sitting in my kitchen with a fresh color of paint, but it’s not worth wondering what if.

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