How Leaks, Mold, and a Broken Refrigerator Can Help You Grow Your Confidence

How Leaks, Mold, and a Broken Refrigerator Can Help You Grow Your Confidence

Written by Emilie

Topics: Confidence

I was talking to a friend several months ago about the vintage travel trailer I had just bought. “It sounds like that will provide you with plenty of DIY opportunities,” she replied enthusiastically.

Indeed, one of the reasons I wanted to spend six months living in a trailer in the wilderness is that I wanted to become more self-sufficient, more handy. That aside, I had no idea how right my friend would be.

In the last four months, I’ve dealt with numerous challenges, from freezing water hoses, to insulation problems, to leaks, to smaller challenges like curtain brackets falling off.

Sometimes when the learning curve was steep (e.g. when water was leaking down on me in the middle of the night or I found myself scrubbing mold off of the ensolite inside my trailer), I thought, “be careful what you wish for, Emilie.”

However, I’ve also realized that fixing things gives me an incredible confidence boost. First it was the door handle, which had been falling off in my hand. All it took was an Allen key, but fixing that small thing made me feel so proud. I did it!

Then it was the fridge, which spontaneously stopped working. After doing a bit of research online, I removed the panel in the back and blew condensed air on the burner and up the flue. A few hours later my vegetables were cold once again.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 12.09.10 PMI replaced the foam cushions in the back (which had gotten moldy from the aforementioned leak) with memory foam. I used an electric knife to cut a memory foam topper to size and fit it back in the cushion covers. I also sewed new curtains and started painting over the kitchy 50’s style decor to make it more me.

I’ve noticed that handy tends to bleed into crafty at times. It’s funny how one is typically associated with men and the other with women. But, like gender itself, the handy/crafty distinction feels more like a spectrum than something binary.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 12.09.02 PMAnyway, for the first time in my life, I’m taking actual pride in fixing up the space around me. Maybe it’s because this is the first bit of property I’ve owned, or maybe it’s just where I’m at in my life. But notwithstanding the “be careful what you wish for” warning I periodically give myself, I am starting to see real results, not just in my evolving skill set, but in my confidence levels.

Perhaps this is the true benefit of learning new things, especially hard, way-out-of-your-comfort-zone new things.

Your Turn

Have you ever gotten a major confidence boost from learning something new or pursuing a difficult area?

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.


  1. Emma says:

    Well done Emilie, I think i’d have chickened out when faced with mending the fridge.

    I know what you mean though. I remember being so proud of myself when I fixed child locks on all of my cupboard doors with a screwdriver, after waiting for weeks for a man to do it!

    There’s something about DIY tasks in particular, that really boost your confidence. It kind of makes you feel like whatever breaks or goes wrong in life, you have the power to fix it :)

  2. Rebekah says:

    I can’t wait to see your video tour! Nice job on all those fixes!

    After being screwed over by 1 too many mechanics, I asked my father to teach me how to change the brakes on my car. Together, my father and I have worked on all of my cars and I’ve done it almost totally on my own once except when I needed a little help loosening a tight bolt.

    I love telling men this story. When I was a bartender I told all of my customers how I change my own brakes and I never failed to shock each person I told. It empowers me to be just as good as any man and tell a lying mechanic to eff off when they try to sell me something I don’t need because they think I’m just a silly girl.

    I look forward to your updates Emilie, can’t wait to see where your six-month journey leads you!

  3. Linda says:

    I found nothing more satisfying than cleaning up a rental apartment I own. Never having done any kind of handyman type work before, I scrubbed, painted, screwed, pulled up, put back, while my Dad did the things like wiring and tiling that I wasn’t qualified to do. It took us 6 weeks of back breaking work, but I felt deeply satisfied at the end of each day. And it was nice to discover that this kind of work was not as hard as I thought it would be.

  4. Blair says:

    I always like the feeling I get when fixing things. We are planning on embarking on a similar journey later this year. Looking for a trailer that will allow us to travel and have a simple life. Thanks for the inspiration.

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