Over the years what it means to be a prepper and how to prepare has changed quite a bit for me. I have learned that adaptation is key to survival.
Grew Up With Mentality and Heart of a Prepper
I haven’t been a “prepper” my whole life, but I have had the mentality and heart of one due to the way I was raised. I grew up in a blue-collar family where if you wanted something you worked for it. If something was broke, you tried to fix it first before spending money on it, and where everything had a second purpose. I smile as I write that, because it reminds me of gardening with my dad and using milk jugs as little greenhouses for tomato seedlings.
Stay Quiet and Observe Surroundings
My dad was big into hunting, so I spent a lot of time outdoors. He taught me a lot. He taught me how to hunt, fish, process game, and preserve food. The most important thing that he taught while hunting was how to stay quiet and to really observe my surroundings. It might sound simple, but it was hard for a little kid to always remain still and quiet. However, I did succeed in learning this and have been amazed at how well that ability has served me in my life.
First Big Mistake
As a young man I got more interested in the life style of self-reliance and started to learn as much as I could about sustainable ways of living and long-term disaster planning. Like most young people, I lost my way and became fixated on fads and things that were popular. I was set in the “lone wolf” mentality of survival, thinking that I could conquer the world.
Youth really is wasted on the young. Rather than learning skills and gathering information, I spent too much time on obtaining gear and supplies. Since I took that popular route of prepping, the bulk of my stores were made of weapons, expensive tools, and easy food prep, such as MREs  and freeze-dried food . This was my first big mistake because in a way I was relying on others for some of my survival capabilities while at the same time wanting to be a loner.
I had stopped hunting and fishing and hadn’t grown a garden in years. I had tied up a lot of my money in the typical “beans and bullets” type of supplies that I purchased primarily based on the opinions of others, with little research on my end. So, all of my present and future survival food was dependent on what I had in the house at the time. That’s not a horrible thing in of itself, but I never gave a thought to rotating it out or supplementing it with other types of food.
An Epiphany That Something Needed To Change
The day came where I realized that almost all of my long-term food had drastically expired. As I stood there looking at my supplies, I had an epiphany. Something needed to change. I needed to change.
I needed to learn to adapt to various ways of preparing, instead of having tunnel vision. This needed to apply to supplies, skills, and knowledge.
When it comes to food, I still like and own MREs and other long-term food options. They just don’t make up the bulk of my supply like they used to. Instead, I turned to growing a small garden and preserving what I could. For the bulk of my food I decided on canned goods and other items that I normally used on a daily basis.
This was such a huge and important turning point for me and I have a story as to why. One day I had found out that I lost my job and I was out of work for about six months. I did not have a lot of money saved up, but what I did have was a ton of food and other every day items, such as toothpaste , soap , toilet paper , coffee , sugar , spices , et cetera.
Two Critical Aspects of Preparing
This period of time taught me two critical aspects of preparing. First of all, my idea of what I was preparing for changed drastically. I never had a specific event in mind, although it was always something big, like a war, EMP, solar storm, pandemic, aliens, or zombies; take your pick. I now realize that anything that drastically changes your way of life is something worth preparing for. Events don’t have to be these large scale, everlasting situations that most of us think of. They can be localized natural disasters, inflation, supply shortages, et cetera.
I know losing a job might not sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but because I had that store of supplies I used what little money I had strictly for bills. And that was how I got by for six months.
The second thing that it taught me was how important it was to diversify everything when it came to prepping. I mean everything– knowledge, skills, supplies, gear, relationships.
According to the original path I was on, the only things I needed were my “beans and bullets”, and the beans were freeze-dried. I would have been in a world of hurt when I lost my job if I had not diversified my supplies and adapted to a different mentality of prepping. However, since I did, my day-to-day life was fairly normal, and I didn’t have to give up much. I could still have my coffee in the morning, bath and brush my teeth when I needed to, indulge my sweet tooth, since I had stored candies and anything else that applies to your daily life. Just “beans and bullets” would not have helped me out very much.
When it came to relationships, I decided I needed to forget about the lone wolf survival method. That way of survival only really works in certain situations and short-term emergency events. I broadened my scope and became more active in preparedness communities on the Internet with like-minded individuals and started to seek out local people that were like me. It wasn’t until I started to have real conversations with other people who held the same beliefs as me that I realized just how little I knew. When I started to develop friendships with these people, it really hit home that it really does take a village.
On Your Own and Sick or Injured
From personal experience, another reason I learned why the lone wolf method is so hard is because during that period when I lost my job I got sick. Now really think about this. I was down and out for about a week. In a true survival situation, if you are on your own and you got sick or injured, how are important tasks going to get done? Who is going to tend the garden, help you to get healthier, hunt or fish for food, acquire water, and protect your perimeter? These are some of the aspects of true survival that I thought of while laying in bed in the comfort of normal times. Needless to say, I was hit with some hard truths.
The Take Away From My Story
Here is what I want you to take away from my story. Knowledge and skills are above gear and supplies, because supplies are usually easily scavenged whereas information can be hard to come across. Don’t have tunnel vision but instead adapt to different situations and ways of accomplishing things. Preparing for one specific event is going to severely limit you in terms of resources and abilities versus visualizing a broader range of scenarios. People are going to be one of our greatest resources if TEOTWAWKT ever happens, for a multitude of reasons. They will bring knowledge, skills, and ideas to the table that you may have never thought of. Strength in numbers is key when the world takes a drastic turn for the worse.
Not Just Surviving But Community and Rebuilding
The last thing I would like to add is that getting through events is not just about surviving. It is about community and rebuilding. We are herd animals and need socialization as well as other aspects of being around other people. If we didn’t, there is no way we would be where we are at today. I urge anyone who is reading this to not hunker down in their “bunkers” but to branch out and develop a network of people who truly want the best for those that we love and who share the same ideals and desires for the future generation.
No longer will I prepare, learn skills, and do my best to store supplies in order to just get by another day. I am doing so in order to live another day so that I can continue to experience everything this world and life has to offer.
Adaptation To Move Forward To a Positive End
Folks, take it from me that there is so much more to this life than the fear-induced lives we are force fed on a daily basis. If you are stuck in a way of life that causes you to be stagnant and unhappy, then change it. Learn to adapt. Only through adaption can we ever hope to better ourselves and to keep moving forward to a positive end.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest . The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses , excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper . These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees  in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product  from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses .
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4  Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of  Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections , a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord  (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail  us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.