It's a line I cross pretty frequently.
This week I've been plastering my own bathroom. Why? Because as our thoughts have turned towards moving house, we've noticed just how little our house looks like the other houses in the brochures. We've never wanted a house that looks like everyone else's, and we certainly don't have one, and it's never been a problem. But all of a sudden we're starting to see the bathroom covered with old encyclopaedia pictures, the dark red living room, the cellar full of things kept for 20 years 'just in case', through other people's eyes.
The bathroom was an easy place to start. A series of unfortunate events led to the wall getting very damp - it's since dried out, but the paper was peeling, and the plaster crumbling. Last weekend I took a deep breath and pulled the paper off the wall - and most of the plaster too.
So now I can fit tiles, which isn't so hard when you use all-in-one adhesive and grout. It's more complicated when the walls aren't flat, but easier when you stop caring about your tiles being perfectly straight.
Plastering is more difficult. Apparently the plaster should be the consistency of mud that you sink into but that doesn't stick to your wellies too much. That's a pretty arbitrary measure by anyone's standards. It's a bit like mixing water and icing sugar - there's always too much of one or the other.
Through all of this I'm aiming for the dizzy heights of 'it's better than it was'. Even for me that's a realistic aim.
So why not just call in an expert? Partly cost - this house needs a lot of work, and that adds up to a tidy sum. Partly hassle - in the past I've spent more time chasing 'professionals' than it would have taken me to do the job myself.
But mostly my reasons hover around that line between independence and stubbornness. I don't like admitting defeat. I don't like saying 'I can't...' about anything. If someone else can plaster, or fit tiles, then surely it can't be impossible. I'm an intelligent woman, and I must be able to figure it out.
No matter that those other people spent years at college, or as an apprentice. I don't need to be professional standard, I just need to be good enough.
I get a warm glow being able to do things myself, even if I make lots of mistakes and spend much time swearing. After tiling the shower, or painting a wall, I feel strong.
(Mind you, today I just feel tired. I'm dangerously close to crossing the line into idleness...)