Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
A while back, when I was living in an apartment in North Carolina, I did a radio interview about prepping in the city. It was a live show, and we took some phone calls from listeners. One particular caller stood out in my mind. He was insistent that I was not prepped at all and couldn’t possibly be, since I didn’t live like him.
He told me about his acreage in Montana, Idaho, or one of those beautiful, spacious mountainous states. He said that he had a garden that was one acre in size, a generator he sustained with solar and wind power, two years’ worth of freeze-dried food, a cold mountain stream running through the land, and all manner of other expensive preparedness measures. He truly had an awe-inspiring set-up.
But he couldn’t wrap his brain around the fact that there are many different ways to be prepared and many different situations for which there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. He wasn’t an overly pleasant caller, but he did get my wheels turning a bit.
Actually, I thought of this fellow a few days ago when reading about the latest industrial accident that rendered an area at least temporarily unlivable. What happens to all that stuff when you suddenly can’t be there anymore for reasons outside your control? You can’t fight off an airborne threat the way you can potentially fend away an angry horde. You can’t outlast an invading army that drops a bomb in your area. There are always reasons that you might have to live your idyllic setup, and I’d argue that being able to survive without all the trappings is every bit as important as the trappings themselves.
But what this all boils down to is that there is not just one way to prep.
There are tons of variables.
We all have different budgets, different lifestyles, different homes, and different skills. Trying to say that there’s only “one way” to prep is honestly ridiculous.
We all have variables:
We don’t all have unlimited funds. We can say all we want about allocating our money carefully so we can afford to prep. Sure, skipping the trip to Disney or the luxury cruise can provide you with some extra cash for prepping. I think you should prioritize your emergency fund, your physical preps, and being debt-free. But we can preach that til the cows come home, and it doesn’t change the fact that we’re living through an economic collapse and people are struggling just to buy this week’s groceries.
Not everyone is physically capable of running a homestead. I’ve had a homestead, and it’s grueling work. I’ve lived off the grid in Canada, in the Algonquin Forest, and I did it without the luxury of a generator and all sorts of backups. I was 15 years younger then, and it was still utterly exhausting. I’m a single mom, so it was just me and a young teenager managing all this stuff. While both experiences were extremely rewarding and educational, they were not how I wanted to continue to live. There are many, many people who are not able to do it, physically, mentally, or financially.
We don’t all have a family who is on board. If you’re the Prepper-in-Chief in your household, you may have run up against the brick wall otherwise known as your spouse. You may have kids who think you’re crazy. You may be the person who stays home instead of the person who earns the money, and that means you don’t have access to the funds for a prepping free-for-all. You have to do what you can, discreetly, and not rock the boat.
Chronic health conditions may limit your options. If you or a family member is dealing with a long-term health concern, you may be in an area that is less than ideal in a survival scenario but allows you to be closer to the medical care you require. Does this mean you’re foolish? Of course not. It means that you are prioritizing the imminent crisis over the “maybe” crisis.
We’re all getting older. The things we did when we were younger are not necessarily things that are feasible as we get older. Once my daughter was out of the house, was I, in my 50s, going to run several acres, a bunch of livestock, security, and other systems all by myself? Absolutely not. We don’t all have a family like The Waltons, where Jim Bob and Elizabeth build a house on the property, and we all live more-or-less together forever more.
We might have reasons we can’t move. I’ve preached this particular sermon a million times. We live where we live for reasons. Perhaps we’re upside down in our mortgage and can’t sell and start over because we have no equity. Maybe we’re staying in a city for a family member who refuses to budge. We might have an awesome, high-paying job keeping us in a less-than-ideal area. If we have a supportive, wonderful group of family and friends, moving someplace where we have no connections doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t matter what the reason is. Moving is costly, difficult, and complicated. We can’t always do it.
Are we supposed to say to people in all these situations, sorry, you don’t live the perfect prepper lifestyle, so you’re going to die?
We’re going to say, “Look at these potential concerns, make a plan to handle them, and live your life.”
Here are the factors that really determine survival.
Ever since I had control over it, I’ve always lived a rather eccentric life. I can’t say that every choice has necessarily been a good one, but that’s what life is all about. Living, experiencing, doing, and learning. I’ve returned to living a very mobile, nomadic lifestyle because that’s what suits my temperament and it increases my adaptability. My lifestyle would not be for everyone, but that’s okay.
Why? Because there’s not just one way to prep.
Here are the factors that I believe determine survival.
We’ve written at length about skills. You can find a couple of articles about it here and here. When it comes to preps, you cannot beat skills. Whether it’s growing food, preserving food, healing, hunting, repairing, sewing, or building (just to name a few things.)
You could have all the medical supplies in the world, but if you have no idea how to use them, you may not be able to save the person you love. You could have enough food to last you for five years, but if you can’t defend it against those who would take it, you may not be able to use this particular prep.
The great things about skills (and knowledge) is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, physically fit or infirm, male or female – they cross all boundaries. Even if you can’t physically do the essential things, a group having you and your knowledge of how to repair some vital thing is invaluable.
One skill I’ve honed over the years of trying all sorts of different things and traveling the world is adaptability. In fact, I wrote an entire book about the subject. I’ve learned to communicate (at least a little) in three different languages. I can navigate unfamiliar places with ease. I can make connections rapidly. I am able to grasp the rules of the place where I am without constantly comparing it to the place I was and resisting the change. These things make it far easier to operate.
You have to let go of how things “should be” and see them as they are. This is something a lot of us struggle with. We’re bothered by the direction our country is going in and we resist the change. To some extent, this is reasonable. But there also comes a point at which we have to accept that everything is different now and operate accordingly. Adapting doesn’t mean you are A-OK with certain changes. It just means that you understand that accepting reality is the first step toward surviving it.
This is a trait that’s easy to work on. Train yourself to work within your limitations instead of simply becoming angry about them. You can quite often achieve things even within a system that seems determined to prevent that from happening.
Nobody likes to think that, in the end, it all boils down to luck. But in so many cases, that is the determining factor. If you are at Ground Zero when the nuke hits, there isn’t anything you can do, no matter how skilled you are, how prepped you are, or how much you’ve prayed. Your number is up.
If you’re on a plane that crashes into the ocean and immediately kills every person on board, then you have had the bad luck to be there. It isn’t because you’re being punished for leaving the homestead. It’s not because you weren’t prepared enough. A deadly crash is a deadly crash.
This is just out of your control. Horrible things happen every day, and it may be due to genetics, bad timing, or the luck of the draw. If you happen to be in the way of the horrible thing, then it’s out of your control. (The good thing is that sometimes luck works in your favor, too.)
The takeaway: the way you survive is just one way to do it.
The fact that there is not just one way to survive can really work in your favor. No matter who you are, where you are, or what your situation is like, you have within you the ability to be better prepared than you were the day before. Don’t let anyone tell you that your way is the wrong way.
Make your situation work for you. Wherever you are, choose to make the best of it. People have survived in far worse situations than yours since the beginning of time. If you need help figuring out where to start, check out my course on the topic, or take a look at this workbook. Spend some time delving into the articles on this website.
Are you in the “perfect” situation? Do you feel that your way is the only way? If you’re not, how do you make it work? What advice do you have for others in similar circumstances? What words of encouragement can you share? What do you think are the most important factors in survival?
Let’s discuss it in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.