When I first became interested in homesteading and self-sufficiency I gravitated towards the idea of making things myself as much as possible. I not only wanted to make my own food, but also things like toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning products, etc. As I was researching I quickly found that not only were these things often not particularly cost effective, but also didn’t work as well. I mean, if that’s the case, then what the heck is the point? It’s hard to know what’s worth doing and what’s not until you just jump in and give it a go.
Is it saving you time, money, or making your life easier in some other way? Perhaps it’s a learning experience you can use in the future? For me, if it’s not ticking at least one of those boxes then it’s not worth the bother.
After an unfortunate experience trying to make homemade deodorant (so itchy, so very itchy), I had felt a bit discouraged. I didn’t want to waste time making things for the sake of making them. There had been successes in other areas, but I just didn’t know what to invest time and effort into. I eventually realized I had strayed from my initial vision of simplicity. I guess you can say I got carried away with the idea of doing it myself rather than the reality.
For me, the most purposeful projects I’ve found involve gardening and home improvement. At the very least everything I’m doing gives me the knowledge and experience that can benefit me in the future. I’m lucky enough to have people in my life that are reliable resources of information on these subjects as well. If I didn’t I may feel differently about this. It can be quite intimidating to try something for the first time without any guidance. And if you have a traumatizing experience on your own, you may be less likely to commit additional time and effort to it.
I’m only in the very beginning of my journey towards self-sufficiency, but one thing I’ve learned is that you work with what you’ve got. That includes people and community. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take advantage of the knowledge and experience that others possess and don’t hesitate to share your own skills with those interested. The idea of DIY may seem to promote relying solely on yourself, but in the end you’ll be more independent than ever by allowing yourself to learn new skills more efficiently.
All this being said, I think there’s one more important point to make. Don’t force it. If you have aspirations of homesteading or anything else, but there’s certain aspects of it that simply don’t interest you that’s okay. It never hurts to expose yourself to these things, but trying to fit some ideal image of what the lifestyle is “suppose” to be is only going to bring you unnecessary stress and could potentially spoil the entire experience for you. Don’t self-sabotage. Do it yourself for yourself and don’t get caught up in appearances.