Self-sufficiency is key in today’s world. However, the term “self-sufficient” only reached global internet popularity two years ago for the first time since 2007. Nearly 15 years ago…
Let that sink in.
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Yet, the topic was only half as popular in the US during that time. In 15 years, searches for “self-sufficient” peaked a couple times. Once in early 2009 following the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. It peaked again in the fall of 2020 coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This spread looks like Americans aren’t concerned with being self-sufficient until a major crisis or global event occurs. Whether that’s a true and supported statement or not, there are many women who care about being independent. And the traditional woman is certainly one of them.
What exactly is Self-sufficiency?
Being self-sufficient means being capable of providing for your own needs, especially regarding food production. It’s the ability to take care of yourself and deal with problems without relying solely on someone else. That means not relying only on parents or friends. Not relying strictly on the classic 9-5 employer for money. Grocery stores and mechanics for goods. Materialism or fads for pleasure. It’s being independent and there is a great measure of freedom and simplicity associated with that.
Self-reliance, as it’s also known, is a virtue. And one every traditional woman models well.
Now, I have to say. There are levels to it. Being and becoming independent doesn’t mean resorting to living an ultra-old-fashioned lifestyle if that’s not you. It doesn’t mean all of a sudden one day you start grinding grains to make bread or sewing your own clothes. Those are great things to learn sometime though. It’s not an overnight transformation is the point to remember.
As most things go in the journey to becoming traditional, first you change your mind. Then you change your life. A little will go a long way. All you really have to do is start.
Self-sufficiency isn’t just one more thing the traditional woman focuses on. It’s actually really important. Here’s why.
It’s a form of security. Not unlike the insurance my Dad used to encourage me to buy but that I wasn’t keen on. And that I now listen to my husband talk about.
Living with an insurance mindset though ensures I won’t have to depend on conventional means to live or provide for my family. And neither will you! Even if you do happen to need something, you’ll have resources in your back pocket to make it or get it.
Secondly, becoming self-sufficient is important because timing is everything. The perfect place for anyone to be is in front of catastrophes. Not Googling how-to’s after the fact once the catastrophe trends. So, being self-sufficient just makes sense. Especially to the traditional woman today where resources everywhere are either scarce or extremely overpriced.
This form of independence is a concept we all learn one way or another growing up. People around us might have lived that value out in every area of life, they might not have or maybe they were somewhere in between.
I haven’t always been as conscious or motivated to be self-sufficient as I am now. Although, independence isn’t a foreign concept to me. But as an emerging young adult and newlywed, it wasn’t one of my core focuses either. I knew I could do better, I just didn’t know how much better until recently. The type of independence I’m chasing now is one that gives my family the best chance of weathering a rainy day. Or two.
By now, you may be wondering, “Is self-sufficiency even possible? I mean, I live in the city, work a full time job, am single.” Etc. etc.
And trust me, I get it. It can be hard to do while renting a < 700 sq.ft. studio apartment and living life not knowing what you should know.
But, yes, it’s more than possible! It’s historical even! This world started out full of pioneers. We all originate from tribes of people who farmed the land or mined or voyaged to survive. Modern sufficiency won’t look the same for everyone today. But it does mean we nix the “instant gratification” itch and separate wants from needs.
Modern conveniences have made women comfortable. Technology like the dishwasher and vacuum cleaner eases a lot of household burdens. And that’s great. I mean personally, I love the luxury of having 2 washers and dryers – even if we share them with the other units in our building. But that means my husband (who actually does the laundry in our family) is finished that much sooner.
But did you know there was a time when women washed clothes by hand? Then hung them on a clothesline to dry in the warmth of the sun. Some still do. And while I’m still an amateur clothes-hand-washer, I think it’s a necessary skill to know. Because one day, the washer may break. The power may go out. Or we may purposely escape to the quietness of the woods for a time and be without one. Whatever happens, I’ll need to know how to wash more than just utensils by hand.
So, yes. Even though modern city life may be breeding women who forget what they’re capable of, becoming self-reliant is definitely possible. It starts in little ways first, like learning and practicing a new skill. Eventually, you become as self-sufficient as you want or picture yourself to be.
There are lots of ways to increase your self-sufficiency. The primary areas are self, family and home.
There’s no version of the journey that doesn’t go well when a woman focuses on improving herself. So, the traditional woman will tackle self-sufficiency like someone padding a resume with marketable skills. Her goal – growth. Becoming a well-rounded woman and the best version of herself possible. It might include:
- Learning to cook so she can feed herself nourishing meals.
- Exploring stimulating hobbies so she can provide her own entertainment.
- Reading books that increase her mental and emotional well-being.
- Tackling any debt so she can financially stand on her own feet.
The well-watered woman nourishes those around her. Thus, the next area of focus is almost a gimme: her family or her community-those intimately connected to her. Becoming more self-reliant as a family means learning and living out old-fashioned skills. The goal here is setting (or continuing to build) a foundation that supports future generations or expands her network. It can include:
- Setting SMART goals* that ensure success and reflecting periodically to ensure accountability.
- Starting a garden and/or compost system to maintain a source of nurtrient-dense foods.
- Learning handy-man or mechanic skills to replace the need for outsourced services.
- Building a diverse financial portfolio that can cushion unforeseen events in life.
*SMART is an acronym that helps the goal setting process. S-specific, M-measurable, A-attainable, R-relevant, T-time-based
Lastly, self-sufficiency is one of the hallmarks of a traditional home. It means the home provides for those living there. This goal is achieving sustainable sufficiency. Improvements in this area could include:
- Encompassing the minimalist atmosphere to free up other resources.
- Installing solar panels to support activities in the home.
- Adding amenities like bees or maple trees to provide even more staples for the occupants.
- Reducing waste and increasing recyclables to minimize the negative impact on the environment.
Here’s how I’m increasing my self-reliance now so that this becomes a normal part of life. A way of living that can be passed down.
My goal is getting to a place where we don’t have to outsource so much. This will be a few years in the making but it starts by working in chunks. So, this year my aim is to become 25% more self-sufficient. That means 1 out of every 4 things we buy conventionally is replaced.
Replacing doesn’t mean swapping one conventional item for another though. It means learning to create it, create the components for it or do without it altogether. The beauty is that the traditional woman is well-equipped for such a task. By being resourceful and planning ahead, she makes sure her family and home can sustain themselves. The traditional wife shares that responsibility with her husband. And if the traditional woman happens to be a mother, she raises her children to be self-reliant too.
We may not live on our one-day homestead growing potatoes, onions and garlic to my heart’s content. Yet. But I’m learning on the way.
And I learned that we don’t need to own land to start living off of it. And I don’t need the gourmet open-style kitchen and island I dream of to start our traditional foods journey. I can begin here and now. In the city. So, I am.
I’ll be focusing on incorporating these changes over the next few years to increase my self-sufficiency.
The items I’m striving to replace are things that:
- Meet a need
- Promote further growth or
- Satisfy a want
There are several smaller steps tied to that goal. Here’s the non-SMART version of how I’m working on it this year.
Improving self-reliance should always be one focus of the becoming traditional woman. If you’re not already taking steps to get there, you can do it! Take the plunge! Be the pioneer amongst your peers and set your self up for future wins. Create a legacy for those behind you by learning ways today that will improve their tomorrow.