What I’ve learned as a prepper in the past 5 years

Prepper's Will - What I've learned as a prepper_I would like to start by saying that I do not consider myself and expert prepper and that I firmly believe the road ahead has still many unknowns. The experiences shared within the lines of this article are my own and they can provide a clear glimpse of what it means to be a prepper. Some of these experiences may seem familiar to you because at some point, we’ve all been there.

My prepping journey started almost five years ago and at that time, it all seemed chaotic, out of place and somehow ridiculous. Although I was able to understand why people decide to get prepared, I couldn’t help but wonder: isn’t all of this too much?

All the information I had to assimilate, all the things I needed to buy, all the things I had to do to make sure I don’t screw up, proved to be just too much and more than once I said to myself: that’s it, you did enough! It can’t get any better than this…

The reality is that each prepping journey is different and it all starts with you. Some people can handle it while others will just give up and return to their “common life” feeling accomplished that they at least tried and that they have a general knowledge of what to do if it hits the fan. I can understand those who quit and I honestly can’t blame them because this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. A prepper has to deal with many obstacles and without proper knowledge and the right help, many will fail.

Although I could write a book with everything that I’ve experienced during the past 5 years, I will just summarize it to what I think it is the most important for new preppers.

As prepper, you need to be organized

As with everything in life, you need to have a starting point. Becoming a prepper requires some organizational skills and most of all, it requires prioritization. You can’t throw yourself at it all and hope things will go smooth. It doesn’t work like that and you need to make a plan; one that will help you find order in the chaos. There is a lot of information online about prepping and you can find many preppers debating on what you should be doing first, how to do it and so on. Forget about all of that and start with the most important thing, you! People have different personalities and what works for them, might not work for you. If someone that has a disposable income tells you to buy all sorts of supplies and you are struggling to make ends meet, that’s not a good strategy to start with. However, when it comes to prepping there are some common factors we all need to consider. First, you need to establish what you need to prepare for. Second, you need to calculate your budget so that the prepping arrangements you make won’t affect the quality of your daily life. And last but not least, you should prepare for the environment you live in and you should take into account the number of people that will depend on you. There will always be some extra people that will come knocking when things go south. I call them the friendly lechers and there’s nothing you can’t do about it, you will have to take them in because most of these people are family members and close friends. Only few will have the heart to say no.

Recommended reading: How to establish prepping priorities

Life is about goals and you should have one (or more)

Every prepper has his own goals and you should set some realistic ones for yourself. The ultimate goal for all preppers is to become totally self-sufficient, but the road to get there isn’t an easy one. You should expect a bumpy ride and you should set realistic targets for yourself. Don’t start multiple things at once if you can’t finish them. If you set realistic goals and you manage to reach them, you will get a satisfaction that is hard to describe in words. Reaching your target will give you self-confidence, it will help you push forward and most importantly, it will provide you with useful knowledge that will become necessary when there’s no one around to help you. If you want to set-up a food production pipeline, deal with that and only that, until you have something that works. Setting goals as a prepper will help you discover yourself and you will find out about the type of personality you have. Frustration is part of success and it will help you understand what you will have to deal with when things get tough and when you feel you can’t do it.

Becoming a walking encyclopedia is not possible

You know how they say ‘you learn something new every day, until you die’? This phrase couldn’t be truer for preppers and we are always learning something new. The problem here is that all of this can become too much and you will have to say stop at some point. You aren’t a walking encyclopedia and there’s no point in trying to become one. You should learn about the most important skills that help you survive and let all other things become trial and errors if you have to. Even better, if you have family members that support you, try to spread out the survival knowledge your family needs. Each family member should learn something different so that the entire group can benefit from it. You probably don’t want to hear this, but you can’t do it all and you can’t learn it all! That’s the reality and we have to adapt based on the potential we possess. You need to know your limits and you need to know when you should give up, nobody will condemn you for doing so. Cut your losses and stick to what you’re good at.

You need to have someone close, someone that understands you

Becoming a prepper is not only about the individual and it will affect everyone around you. If your spouse or partner is not in the same boat, you will have a hard time and you will have to compromise to make things work. You won’t be able to do it all and you will require support at some point. Even more, you will require emotional support when you feel like giving up. Having someone by your side that understands and supports you is crucial if you’re prepping plans include more than just you. I had my share of fights and adventures and it was tough at first. My wife wasn’t on board 100% in the beginning and we had long debates about why we need to do this or that. Thank God that some of the supplies and tools are “women friendly” and they come in various colors. You won’t believe how such small details like these counts when you want to make your wife happy. The bottom line here is that you need a partner that understands and supports you, otherwise you won’t make it. A prepper can become a lone wolf, but if you’re a lone wolf inside a pack, the pack will subdue or banish you.

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Comfort zone, what’s that?

Being a prepper means you will have to step out of your comfort zone more often than you think. If you chose this lifestyle you will have to experiment every time because gathering knowledge will do you no good if you don’t actually put it to the test. Some of the things you will experiment will not be pleasant, but they will help you understand what you have to deal with if the world would stop to function tomorrow. Even more, these experiences will help you figure out if you have alternatives and how to implement them so that the initial emotional and/or physical impact of the experience could be avoided in the future. For example, making a fire using the hand drill is a frustrating experience and you need time to master it. Using a lighter is much easier and it will help you save time. We all have our comfort zone and what makes me uncomfortable may as well be your cup of tea. The thing you need to take away from here is that you should be prepared to experience new things, things that will not always be of your liking.

Related reading: Survival sanitation and how to deal with it

Disasters will always happen

Disasters will happen regardless if you prepare for them or not. Every hour, on this planet there is something happening that changes the life of people forever. The problem is that we don’t find out about it, so it doesn’t affect us. If we find out about it, we don’t really care because it happened miles away and we don’t even know those people. Even worse, we have an attitude that conflicts with the natural self-preservation instinct that we should all have. As a nation in particular and as a society in general, we became way too arrogant for the times we live in. Part of the fault is ours and part of it can be blamed on the media. It always amazed me how information is being filtered in our country and how important events are kept under the radar because they could trigger an alarm signal for some. For example, the current situation in Venezuela is critical and it’s becoming a tragedy for many. It is a clear example of what an economic meltdown can do to a country and the stories are frightful. There are people stealing food from their neighbors just to survive. And yet, you don’t see it on the news and you can’t find information about it without doing a thorough search online. Unfortunately we live in a bubble and every day, there are people trying to convince us that we are safe and there’s nothing wrong that could ever happen to us. It seems that we live in an alternate universe and that somehow we think we are untouchable. I read a story the other day about a teenager that was hit by a car after jaywalking, all because he didn’t bother to look away from his smartphone and he was unaware of his surroundings. It amazes me how dormant society has become and how aggressively the herd mentality and behavior are being promoted.

You can’t save them all!

Many preppers, including me, suffer from the “Superman complex” and we don’t realize it until someone points it out. The superman complex was first defined by Frederic Wertham, an American psychiatrist. He observed how young children were influenced by superhero comic books and they were developing a “need” to help others. While this complex can prove quite useful if you are a policeman or a fireman, it does the opposite if you are a prepper. As a prepper, you will try to spread the message and you will try to help others even if they didn’t ask to be saved. I can tell you from experience that you can’t save them all and if they don’t listen the first time, don’t bother trying a second time. You will just spend time and energy on something that it’s pointless. You should channel all that towards something that has meaning for you and your family. Stick to your business and help only those who reach out to you.

Money will always be part of this equation

Being a prepper requires money and I wish I could tell you it gets easier, but I can’t. You will always need to buy something and although frugality goes hand in hand with prepping, you will still have to open your wallet. Money is the number one reason people give when asked why they gave up preparing for something. Being able to keep a steady budget, being able to build your own and finding ways to get on the cheap side are all keys to success when it comes to prepping. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you won’t need a lot of money to prepare and don’t be naïve about it. Try to make a list with what you need, try to prioritize your goals and cross it with your budget. It’s better to know in advance what you would need to become self-sufficient rather than starting the journey and end up living with debt. I wrote in a previous article about how you should prep if you are on a tight budget and I recommend reading it because it may help you.

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A bug out location or a safe heaven is expensive, no matter what other people say.

If you have the opportunity to set up a bug out location, I recommend doing so, but know this: it will become an expensive goal. My bug out location is a money sinkhole and there’s always something new I have to do, there’s always something new I have to buy for it and what not. So far, I’ve invested around $45,000 into making it suitable for an off-grid living and I think I’m hallway there. A bug out location requires maintenance and it requires a “guard dog”, someone to look after it (I’m lucky to have my father-in-law to deal with this). You need supplies and you need to make it comfortable for the living you are used with, or at least for a similar level of comfort. If you don’t already have something that can be turned into a bug out location, you will have to build on and the situation changes considerably.

Friends will come and go, family will stay…sometimes.

During the past five years, I’ve noticed how many of my friends grew apart and somehow vanished from my life. I’m certain it has something to do with the lifestyle I’ve chose and they aren’t found of the idea to have a prepper as their friend. Many people see us as crazy and they will stay away from you if you tell them you’re a prepper. Even some of your family members will have a hard time understanding your actions and they won’t share your beliefs. Nothing hurts more than hearing your loved ones say that you’ve taking it too far. Unfortunately, a prepper doesn’t have an exact place in the modern society and we are often seen as pariahs, as someone who tries to disturb the flow of modern society and scare people into doing what they are doing. This has a lot to do with how preppers are being portrayed in the media and the TV show ‘Doomsday preppers’ didn’t help at all. You see only bad news about preppers and nobody takes the time to show what some of them managed to achieve. How they managed to become self-sufficient, how they got rid of debt and have a carefree life, and how they invent things meant to help others. No, you see only how one crazy guy kept a few hundred firearms and a ton of ammo in his house, and now all of a sudden, we are all crazy gun-loving people. This media exposure has some negative effect on the prepper communities as well and this is why you see many of them say ‘I wish something would happen sooner to show them I was right all along’. This is a wrong approach and you shouldn’t fall for it. Always keep in mind why you are doing this – for you and your family, and don’t let them drag you into this manipulation circus.

Suggested reading: Preppers – a growing generation of crazy?

If you want to be prepared, you need to open your eyes

We are all preppers if you think about it; some are more advanced while others are just beginners. Being a prepper doesn’t mean you need to have a bunker, a home weapons arsenal that will make Rambo jealous or tons of supplies that will last you for ten years or more. By definition, a prepper can be even the Average American that has a week worth of food and water in the house. This means that almost 40% of Americans can be labeled as preppers. Most of the people out there take precautionary measures because they’ve experienced something (blackout, tornado, etc.) that convinced them to take action. Even so, many of them are still sleeping and they fail to realize that the world is changing way too faster than we can handle it. We are still in a dormant state because we are being manipulated, the media is controlled by a handful of people and all the important news that are a wakeup call are being filtered. If you want to become a prepper you need to open your eyes and look for the truth yourself. Is always good to be skeptical and you should never take things for granted. For example, if a car deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before you buy it, you do whatever you can to make sure you’re not being tricked. All the information available out there should be double-checked and you need to make sure you’re not being manipulated. Do something because you feel and know it is the right thing to do and not because someone tells you so. You shouldn’t become a prepper because I’m advising you to do so, or because you’re neighbors are, or because you’ve seen it on TV. You should do it because you feel it is the right thing to do for you and your family. We always say that it’s better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best and although it sounds like common sense, you’re not obliged to follow the same path. You should first open your eyes and then take action. Who knows, maybe you will become a prepper… and if not, your old life and the comfort zone you’re used to, will still be there.

I wanted to write this article as an answer to the question: what does it imply to become a prepper? These are the things that nobody tells you and I would have loved to have some idea of what becoming a prepper implies when I’ve started my journey. Prepper’s Will is my way of giving back to others and I hope that all the information I’m sharing here will help others become prepared.

Stay safe and God Bless!

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