When the Student Affairs Collective reached out to student affairs professionals to share their side hustles with the world, I almost fell out of my chair with excitement. I’ve become quite proficient at acquiring side hustles in the past seven years working in higher education: teaching classes, editing and proofreading various publications, becoming a certified Jazzercise fitness instructor, and now, my favorite side hustle of all: becoming a “Do It Yourself” (DIY) blogger at . While this side hustle doesn’t exactly earn me money (yet), it has made a huge impact on me, both personally and professionally.
Before I talk about the perks of becoming a crafting and home renovating queen, there’s something you should know about me: I am kind of a spaz. Growing up, I was notorious for tripping, falling, and acquiring ridiculous injuries. My dad used to joke that he would be walking next to me one minute, and the next minute I was gone, fallen on the ground. I blamed my left-handedness for my inability to use scissors, knives, and struggled with directions, shoelaces, and other basic tasks. I even wrote a book in fifth grade called Cinderella the Klutz about my uncoordinated behavior. I haven’t always been a person that you’d trust to use power tools. My DIY blogging side hustle has helped me develop specific skills, but it’s also boosted my previously low levels of self-confidence, which has especially benefited me as I’ve advanced in my career.
I’ve read a lot of research on the effects of low confidence on professional women in the workplace. really resonated with me, sharing several studies illustrating significant points about gender and confidence: women are less likely to apply for promotions, more likely to experience shame for bad behaviors, and deeply immersed in the need to be perfect. For me, the most outstanding point of this article articulated that “we don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer, we don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it ad nauseam, and we don’t sign up for that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required.”
I have experienced these perfectionist feelings constantly not only in my career, but my personal life as well, going through countless hobbies, sports, and even relationships – just because I felt like I wasn’t good enough at them to be successful. I held back on experiences because I wasn’t confident enough in my own abilities. In fact, I find that many higher education professionals are doing the same, diving into work because it’s the only thing that is going right for them. As Brene Brown said, “If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” Life outside the office door is messy for those of us who invest so much time inside of it.
After experiencing many of these feelings of failure, I decided to do something about it. I embarked on a year-long journey into the creative process, focusing my energy on my personal home renovation and DIY projects. Since embarking on my DIY journey, I’ve used power tools, learned painting techniques, installed door hardware, torn down fixtures, and I’ve held myself accountable through blogging. Starting a major creative project at home that doesn’t involve student development, service learning, or anything work-related, has made an incredible impact on my confidence in my work, at home or in the office. Research supports the creative process in the workplace as well, as a recent San Francisco State University study reported that employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job.
The creative process is always messy, whether you’re writing a book, doodling, painting or building a bench, and it certainly throws perfection out the window. Embarking on my first DIY project enabled me to stretch my comfort zone by utilizing new tools and developing new skills while boosting my confidence. I’ve come a long way from Cinderella the Klutz.