Self-sufficiency by definition is a state in which someone or something can self-sustain oneself without using outside resources. If you take that statement literally, it is impossible to obtain. Each and every living creature on this planet is dependant upon outside resources in order to survive. For instance, all animals need food to live. Most animals (excluding humans and the animals we feed) hunt and gather food as they did thousands if not millions of years ago. The majority of humans on the other hand, rely on others to produce food. We are no longer hunters and the gatherers, but rather consumers. This interdependency for the most part works. Most people buy their food instead of foraging for food themselves. Of course, buying food means that we must have money. And in order to have money, most of us need a job. Thus starts the vicious circle that has gotten most of us removed from the basics of being self-sufficient.
Besides food, we need other things too - water, shelter and warmth. Again, most people today rely on outside resources to provide these things. People get their water from a faucet, live in a mortgaged home or apartment and rely on heat from an electric or gas utility company. So what does being self-sufficient mean in today's society?
We can be self-sufficient by using our own physical and mental skills to produce food, shelter and warmth in order to sustain one's own existence. It means not relying on others for things that you can do yourself. It is a way of life that reduces our dependency on external resources in order to live. Self-sufficiency for most homesteaders means rekindling the skills once commonly used by past generations: growing, raising and preserving food, making and repairing tools, cutting and drying firewood, mending and/or making clothes and even building a house or a barn.
This is by no means an easy feat. It requires a ton of self-discipline and a determination not found in most people. Especially in today's society where over the years we have grown accustom to depending upon others to provide for our basic needs. As technology makes life "easier", we move further and further away from the basics and lose the skills that once sustained us.
What is gained by self-sufficiency? A greater sense of freedom and greater control of one's life. You will also eat healthier knowing what went into growing and raising your own food. You will reduce your dependency on money and reduce your need to work a stressful, 60 hour per week (or more!) job. Instead of paying a repairman to fix something, you take pride in fixing it yourself.
How self-sufficient one becomes is entirely a personal decision. There are plenty of things to consider and weigh. It is up to each of us to determine how self-sufficient to become.