Self Reliance is a good thing. Ask any committed Burner. Radical Self Reliance, one of the 10 Guiding Principles of Burning Man, means that you can take care of yourself and your basic needs. It’s a practice that requires a lot of DIY. If something breaks, you fix it. If you don’t have what you need, you make it. It’s a great way to be when on the Playa, where services to help others are gifted within the community. But does it work in the real world? How much is too much DIY?
As an avidly self reliant DIY enthusiast, and shoestring budget maven, I do a lot of things for myself. I tailor my own clothes, cut and color my own hair, cook most of my own meals from scratch and even shape my own eyebrows when I’m away from home and my regular salon.
To be honest, it’s that last one that got me thinking about how much is too much DIY. I have no problem making my own cleaning products, because I know that my deference to chemically laden artificially scented cleaners with slick marketing campaigns isn’t going to really hurt anyone directly. But, while at home, with access to my regular salon, I know that if I choose to pluck my own eyebrows, I’m taking money away from an individual who not only has always a given me great service, but who also depends on repeat customers like me to keep her business open.
I like being self reliant. I like finding new ways to save money with cleverness and remedies long forgotten. I like baking my own bread, the many wonders and uses of Dawn dishwashing detergent, and using vinegar as a primary ingredient for my cleaning endeavors. But I also like supporting small businesses and people who provide skilled services to make their living.
So, to answer my original question, for me, the answer is yes. There is such a thing as too much DIY. It’s great to have all these skills and knowlege, but it is equally great to support other’s skills when I can. Knowing how to take care of myself is comforting and empowering, but being willing to support the skills of others is equally rewarding. In fact it’s just as important as being able to do it myself.