Author of Be Ready for Anything and Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course
Prepping is a lifestyle, but it shouldn’t take over your life to the exclusion of all else.
Things are pretty stressful in the world today, and a lot of people in the preparedness niche, myself included, are urging others to get prepared. This has been an eventful year. And by eventful, I mean like that Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”
You still need to live your life.
But despite all of this, I can’t express strongly enough how important it is to live your life. You need things in your life outside of prepping. The “hide in the bunker” mentality is not healthy at this point in time. Preparedness and survival skills should allow you to live in peace, not in fear.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently on an extended research trip to Europe with at least a dozen countries on the list. It has been marvelous and I couldn’t possibly be happier. (If you want to follow along, go here for photos and observations.) My inbox has been full of messages since I announced it, many wishing me well and others telling me that they were unsubscribing.
But this gives me joy, hones my skills, and feeds my soul. Whether I’m swimming in a warm Aegean-blue sea, getting windblown at the Acropolis, and breathing in the damp, fresh smell of a tropical forest, soaking in an amazing view, or gazing at the same stars on a foreign mountain, I’m living. And only I can choose the “right” way to do that.
The same goes for you, too.
My goal has always been to help others. I have had a lot of wonderful experiences, living in a cabin in the Algonquin Forest, homesteading in California, and traveling with my daughters. But there’s one thing I really want to stress to people in the prepping community because I’m watching so many people go completely overboard. This is not mentally healthy. It makes me sad to see people living fearfully and that isn’t what preparedness is all about.
If I can only make one difference in your life, let it be this:
You need to live. Not hide. Don’t let the problems of other people cause you to miss out on experiences, the memories of which could one day carry you through exceedingly difficult times. You only get a finite period of time on this planet, and I plead with you not to spend that time hiding from the world.
I want to share a few thoughts for preppers about this topic.
Know what you love to do.
Traveling is my thing – it always has been. I’m a restless soul and love nothing more than seeing sights previously unseen. If you take away this part of me, you take away the things that give me the most joy. Getting out there and exploring keeps me feeling younger and healthier.
However, a life of non-stop travel is not for everyone and I’m not suggesting this specifically for everyone. Maybe you enjoy fine dining from time to time. Perhaps you participate in a sport. Maybe you like going to the movies and seeing things on the big screen. Do you like to visit gun shows or prepper expos or homesteading fairs? Perhaps you enjoy concerts or renaissance faires or civil war re-enactments or sports.
Whatever it is that you love to do, embrace it. Work it into your budget. Don’t let worries of restaurants being a “waste” of money, sporting events being blown up, or theaters being shot up seize your joy. Stop worrying about being “on a list” when you go to events and go make some friends who think the way you do.
Just budget for these things you love and go do them. No reasonable prepper will think less of you for it. If someone does say to you, “How can you be a prepper and still do X activity?” you tell them that being a prepper means you live in confidence, not in fear. You don’t have to conform to anyone else’s idea of what preparedness looks like.
Use common sense.
Obviously, when going to places where there could be large groups of people or where you are unfamiliar with the area, you have to use common sense. I prefer the edges of the crowds so I can leave quickly. I don’t drink too much alcohol in unfamiliar places. I am watchful and alert. You can still soak in all the details while maintaining awareness.
You should go do wonderful things but not at the expense of your common sense. No matter where you are, you are still a self-reliant person who is situationally aware. Don’t just go to a concert and stop paying attention to the world around you.
You’re far more likely to be killed by someone you know than by a random stranger. Statistically, it’s extremely unlikely that you will be a victim of a terrorist attack. There’s only a 1 in 3,269,432 chance of dying in one. To me, these numbers are not enough to keep me home.
So, don’t get into an altered state, pay attention, and be ready to make a speedy exit if necessary.
Have more than one skill set.
After I took Selco’s course last year, I really saw the difference between prepping and survival as skill sets. It’s essential to have more than one skill set.
Sure, I’m good at canning and growing vegetables and raising chickens.
But I’m also good at being less noticeable in a crowd, navigating through unfamiliar city streets, and doing my research. I’m not going to go to the city square if protests are occurring. I know where I’m going if things go sideways. I always have an exit plan and more than one way to get from points A to B. And traveling internationally just makes me better at these things.
I learned in Croatia how to hide, how to move with stealth, and how to avoid charging into danger. Am I great at it? Definitely not. I’m no Jason Bourne. But just knowing these things puts me far ahead of most other people, which can be a massive advantage. The more skills and knowledge you have, the better off you’ll be if something goes terribly wrong.
Having the skills of a prepper and the skills of a survivalist is essential. You can’t be a one-trick pony. It’s just as likely you’ll be away from the homestead picking up supplies or going to a doctor’s appointment when things go wrong as it is that you’ll be at home, watching all hell break loose via the internet.
Trust your instincts.
If you think things are about to go sideways, they probably are. Our instincts are there for a reason and sometimes our subconscious mind can pick up on anomalies far sooner than our conscious one. The absolute best book I’ve ever read on this topic is The Gift of Fear. Get it for yourself and get it for the people about whom you care, because the best defense is respecting your own intuition.
The other thing is to watch “baseline.” This is a term I learned from the book Left of Bang. “Baseline” is normal behavior and activity levels for the place you are. Have you ever been out in the forest when the birds are chirping and the squirrels are frolic, then suddenly it goes completely quiet? There are all sorts of reasons this might happen (maybe even because of you) but one major one is that they’ve sensed the presence of a predator. This is a change in baseline.
You can notice something similar in urban environments too. If suddenly every local person grabs their children and they go inside, baseline has changed. If you are walking through a park on a hot day in the summer and you see a guy in a heavy parka looking nervously around, this is definitely NOT baseline.
When you see something that is not baseline, your spidey senses should tingle and it’s time to make a decision whether or not you need to get out.
Wherever you go, whatever you’re doing, pay attention to what baseline is so that you’re more likely to notice if it changes.
Step outside your comfort zone a little.
I see so many people of late telling me they never get too far from home in case something goes horribly wrong. They don’t go to concerts or movies or restaurants. They don’t travel. They miss important occasions like the wedding of a loved one because it isn’t inside their comfort zone.
This isn’t what life is all about.
When people think preppers are “weird” this is what they’re thinking about. And I can understand why they wouldn’t want to join our ranks if they feel as though we eschew fun for safety. Wouldn’t you rather travel to see a loved one to spend time with them now, instead of traveling to their funeral later, regretting that you didn’t go sooner?
It’s perfectly normal to travel, to take the kids to an amusement park, to attend a wedding in another state. It does not mean you have given up on preparedness. It just means you’re prepped and you are enjoying your life.
It isn’t freedom to hide from the world.
This article isn’t targeted to the folks who have their little piece of rural paradise that is so perfect they legitimately do not want to leave it. I completely understand that. This is written for the people who yearn to have experiences, but feel as though it’s at odds with preparedness.
You don’t have to stay home because there might be a mass shooter, you might have to go through a TSA check, or there could be a terror attack.
You know how we all love that quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin? “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
We always think of this in terms of giving up our liberty and letting the government make new laws to “protect” us. But you can use this same quote in the context I’m describing here. Isn’t it essential liberty to be able to go about our business, traveling, visiting friends, listening to music? I’m not saying that homebodies don’t “deserve” liberty or safety. I’m saying that just staying home isn’t going to protect you. I’ve seen quite a few war-torn places and homes got hit as hard as public venues.
Instead of turning down invitations and opportunities, why not go out and build some memories? As Selco has said many times, the memories you build now will help you through difficult times later. You can still be a prepper and enjoy all the world has to offer.
Hiding in a theoretical bunker is not freedom.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.