Isn’t it funny how…
No matter how successful we become, how much we mature, how many places we go in life…
There’s still this instinct, a primal urge, to fit in somewhere, somehow.
I’ve been pondering this a lot lately.
It’s like the high school cafeteria scene, with its neatly-organized tables of jocks, popular girls, and outcasts never really goes away. Rather, the cast of characters just changes clothes (well, most of them do) and grows more facial hair.
No matter how old we are, we still have this innate desire to be a part of a club.
It’s quite the driving force, if you think about it.
To be honest, I’ve never fit in much of anywhere. I’ve been that way since I was a young girl, in fact. Sometimes my lack of fitting into whatever cookie-cutter mold was expected of me was my choice, and sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes I’ve flaunted it, while other times I’ve sat on the sidelines, uninvited, rationalizing why I was being ignored. Again.
After several decades of navigating the world of being a weirdo, not fitting in has become a part of who I am. It’s become my identity. And this propensity towards smashing conventional cookie-cutter molds is what led me to homesteading, essential oils, and entrepreneurship.
But considering how all three of those things have been absolutely life-changing for me in the best of ways, I ain’t complaining. Not one bit.
Homesteading has been especially cathartic for me, as it gave some legitimacy to the hodgepodge of weird interests I had. I’ve enjoyed being a part of, and helping to build, this modern-homesteading community. It’s near and dear to my heart, and there’s nothing I love more than welcoming newbies to the ‘fold.’ (See, there’s that innate human urge to create a club again…)
One of the main messages I’ve been preaching about homesteading for the last six years on this blog, is the beauty of flexibility in this lifestyle.
When I really distill it down, modern homesteading, for me, is about:
- Becoming a producer instead of just a consumer
- Getting in touch with your food sources
- Creating the life you want, and getting out of these crazy societal ruts
How you chose to apply those principles, and what it looks like for each person will be drastically, beautifully different. That’s the magic of this movement.
On Stereotypes and Homesteading.
Where am I going with this? Allow me to explain…
Lately, I’ve been getting some emails or comments in relation to the lifestyle I portray here on the blog. Some have been well-intentioned, some have not.
It started a while back with the criticism I received for having a dishwasher, and has trickled along in comments like these:
- Why did you decorate your house like that? It’s way too modern. It’s not old-fashioned enough.
- Why are you buying food at the store? I thought you were a homesteader who grows their own food?
- If you were a real homesteader, you’d make your own lye for soap.
- I can’t believe you’re using a skillet that’s not cast iron.
In essence, they are silly little comments. And truly, my feelings aren’t hurt, so please don’t feel sorry for me, or think you need to come to my defense. (Admittedly, I may have rolled my eyes slightly at the cast iron comment, though…) Getting a variety of opinions and responses is just a part of this blogging gig– I accept it.
But it’s interesting, isn’t it? How even though this homesteading movement was created by the rebels and outcasts and weirdos and societal misfits, we still try to create rules of what constitutes a real homesteader, and what doesn’t.
As if there is some mythical panel of Homesteading Gods somewhere declaring what is or isn’t legit.
“All in favor of allowing 2.75 chickens and 1.5 raised beds to count as an urban homestead, say aye…”
Holy moly, thank goodness that’s not the case.
But there is a homesteading stereotype of sorts that floats around… And you might be surprised to know, even as a “homestead blogger”, I don’t exactly fit the stereotype. Why do I feel the need to tell you this? Mainly because I’m a big fan of transparency, but also because I desire to be the same person both online and offline. And sometimes it’s easy for there to be an unintentional lapse of communication from one screen to another.
So, true to my rebellious nature, and not wanting to be boxed in, even to my beloved homesteading, I want to lay it all out on the table for you today.
I’m declaring my independence of any perceived homesteading stereotypes or notions, and announcing that I’m a homesteader, but on my own terms, just so no one is ever surprised.
So what does that look like, you ask?
- It means if you were to swing by the house this summer, you’d likely see me wearing flip flops and a visor, not farming boots and a prairie bonnet.
- It means you might see me talking on my cell phone while milking the cow.
- It means I have a sweet dishwasher and a washing machine, and I love them.
- It means we use artificial insemination to breed our milk cow sometimes, because the logistics of getting/keeping a bull during breeding season is almost impossible.
- It means sometimes I feed my animals grain if they need it to stay healthy– even though I prefer grass fed meat and milk when possible.
- It means I’ve had some colossal homestead failures, and I’m not ashamed to admit it…
- It means that sometimes I buy chips and bread when I’m really really busy or overwhelmed with life.
- It means other times I make the most delicious homemade bread, and then smear it with store-bought butter because the cow is dry.
- It means I buy organic when it makes sense. But not always.
- It means sometimes I buy fruits or veggies at the store because either (a) I can’t grow them (hello, I’m talking about you, bananas…) or because (b) I kinda suck at gardening sometimes.
- It means if you were to come check out my super-cool deep mulch garden, you’d see some weeds around the edges (and probably in the middle too, ahem)
- It means while I am passionate proper money management, I choose abundance, rather than scarcity, and I don’t pinch pennies to the point of driving myself crazy.
- It means I’ll happily enjoy the company of friends at a restaurant, even if I know the food isn’t “farm to fork” or local.
- It means on the busiest of days I don’t milk, and just leave the calf on the cow.
- It means I love homesteading with all my heart, but I also love entrepreneurship and online business and get just as much of a kick out of attending an online marketing class as I do a gardening seminar.
- It means sometimes I do awesome Little House on the Prairie-esque activities in the evenings, and other times I just watch Netflix.
There. I feel better now.
Does that mean I don’t feel slightly giddy when the warm smell of the barn first hits my nostrils during early-morning chores, or savor the taste of a carefully roasted and seasoned homegrown poultry, or stare in wonder at the seedlings I started myself that somehow magically grew into supper? Nope. I still live for all of those experiences.
But I’ve learned I’m not a purist. And I never will be. I’ve decided I’m going to do the best I can with what I have. I refuse to cause myself unnecessary stress, just for the sake of fitting into some mythical, “perfect homesteader” stereotype, that (let’s be honest) isn’t really a ‘thing’ anyway.
And if it means my homesteading-self will be a freak in the world of homesteading, then so be it. I’m good with that.
I invite you to be good with it too. If your homesteading journey doesn’t look exactly like the books, or if you aren’t quite fitting the Laura Ingalls Wilder mold like you think you should, let it go. Stop stressing, stop comparing, and embrace being out of the box. Like, really being out of the box. Even the homesteading box. Because being out of the box is what attracted us all to this homesteading gig in the first place anyway, isn’t it?
It’s not a race or a beauty pageant or a popularity contest. Create your own version of homesteading, in all its glory, with all its quirks and inadequacies. The journey belongs to YOU– no one else. Get a little bit better every day, but do it your way. And when you finally let go of perfect? It feels pretty darn good.
So put away the prairie bonnet (unless you really love it), and give yourself permission to break some stereotypes. I’ll be right alongside ya.