Finding your niche in life

Yeah, me as well. Fear of commitment - wanting to leave my options open. The problem is I perceive options that are not truly there, and am not satisfied with the one thing that is there.

One of my favorite quotes I heard on a radio show shortly after my divorce almost 30 years ago. The Dr. stated that when we fall in love we actually fall love with the way we feel about ourselves when in the presence of that special person. That was the only line I remembered from the entire interview. Being raw from my divorce a lot of things seemed to take on a profound meaning and this was one of them but it really stuck. Not a single day has gone by that I don’t reflect on this as it applies to all types of relationships including my relationships with hobbies. If there is some quality about that hobby that makes me feel good about myself while I am doing it or even talking about it I will almost certainly go back for more. In most cases it involves discovery and sharing and the validation that often goes with it.

To answer a question about a possible program – FDR"s WPA – basically finding work for unemployed artists…

I’m in a flux of frustration because of my age and circumstances. Alienation is a problem. 99% of what I love was created before I was born (music, movies, comedy)… I spent years backpacking all over the world up until my early 30s, looking for a world-wide conversation, jamming, learning. The phones have dehumanized society - I know not only from constant observation, but I had my own cell phone store with a high school friend in the early/mid 2000s… Which I only did to be able to travel, and hopefully to be able to hire musicians. Or to hire actors, etc… I’m almost 37, and I’m just…

Love what you did there!

As for the OP, why do people think they have to have a niche? Or if you must niche out, do you have to have only one?

Its not that you must as much as it is if you are missing that feeling. I know a lot of people whose niche seems to be simple diversity trying new things and experiences.

I have had occasional phases in which I felt like I had found somewhat of a niche, though they tended to be the result of unreproducible congruence of events. When I try to find one on purpose though, inevitably I encounter a phenomenon which reminds me greatly of gyroscopes or handed-rules, wherein it seems that whatever effort or interest I apply towards something which seems to be headed in the right direction seems to have it’s effect at right angles. But I can never intuit a reverse engineering.That, or my interest gradually veers off into something else. And generally, it’s rare for me to find that sweet spot of challenging enough to be interesting but not so much to cause burnout, or unique enough to be interesting but not too unique to be profitable. Even with hobbies it’s hard to pick a project that can hold my interest enough to start but not be too involved to not tire of r get distracted from.

What ever this world puts upon you the sea will wash away.

I could swim before I could walk (Drown proofing). SCUBA diving at age eight. I sailed my first dinghy race at age ten. I worked on my uncle’s lobster boat during the summers as a early to mid teen, also in the boatyard that my father managed. I took all the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Power Squadron courses by the time I was sixteen. I did all the route planning and chart work for the summer cruises at our boat club. I got my first Coast Guard license at this time and ran the launch service for our harbor.

Then it was off to the Merchant Marine Academy and a twenty two year career of going to sea on merchant ships the last sixteen as Master. Also some Naval Reserve time worked in.

After coming ashore I started a Mobile Yacht Service in South Florida. A couple of years later I added a welding/custom machine shop (Marine orientated) to the mix. When I decided to retire in my mid fifties I sold both to my two top hands.

Now I just play with my boats, I have five. The pride and flagship of my fleet is a Hinckley Southwest 52 yawl. I still single hand her at the age of sixty six.

I have never talked to a therapist or counselor my entire life. When the shit builds up
I just cast off the lines and sail out until there is no land to be seen. What ever was bothering me just seems to fall away at that point.

Yeah, I guess you could say that I found my niche.

I guess I have it better than most, because when I was 8 years old I knew I wanted to be an electrical engineer. At that age I loved disassembling old TVs, saving parts, and trying to build circuits from schematics. I was a nerd then, and am still a nerd. :slight_smile:

So now I’m an EE. (But growing up in a divorced, impoverished, and broken family, it was not easy.) For a few years I was a design engineer, and loved it. I am now in electronic failure analysis. I very much enjoy the work, but I still long to design stuff. So I am currently in the process of building a shop in my home.

I think the OP is underestimating the amazing capabilities of people with seemingly mundane jobs.

I have a lot of relatives from the farming world or close to it. Many of these people are just phenomenal at what they do. I am in awe.

Okay, so they aren’t inventing the next iPhone. Big whoop. But they are a million times better than I at what they do. Just like I’m a million times better than them at what I do.

Most people are really great at something. Most don’t get attention for it. And all too many don’t make any money or anything doing what they do best.

I have a huge respect for farmers and most all of the trades. Most farmers I have known were also very knowledgeable businessmen men and investors. I put a lot of them on a par with doctors with the amount of knowledge they have on farming.

I started to find my niche in my early twenties (computer game art), and really got into it by the time I turned thirty (computer game VFX art). I can’t imagine doing anything else- seriously, what do normal people do for a living?

I’ve been doing it now for about 25 years, so long now that I’m actually running into ageism- making games is kind of a young man’s game. I still love it, though.

The OP mentioned mathematician and I have to concur with that. I didn’t discover it early; I was 19, nearly 20, when I discovered my vocation and it was one teacher who was responsible. He is still alive (in his 90s) and I have corresponded with him recently.

When I was in HS, one teacher told the story of a former student who announced, while still in HS, that he would become a professor of mathematics at Cambridge–and did. Since he was 49 years older than me, the teacher could not have known him so it had to have been a story handed down. Amazingly I once met him a few years before he died and I am kicking myself for not having asked if the story was true.

My career, my kids, my hobbies and interests. Pretty much takes care of it. Generally a happy person with few to no worries. I love life, my fellow man, and being a mentor to others.

By the 2nd grade I knew I was really into Math/Sci./Electronics. (Computers were still some years away, which turned out to be my forte.) Some signs of this aptitude earlier.

During grade school I was told that I was going to college. Period. No discussion so I knew that was happening.

But the key thing was the first day of class in college. The programming teacher came in. A young guy. Said his name, said he was a TA, explained what that meant, etc. I knew right then that I was going to do that. I gave my version of that intro 3 years later.

While I had relatives who were college and high school teachers, that had never directly influenced me before that point.

My area of expertise is so arcane and modern that I’ve always said that if I was born a hundred years earlier I would have been the village idiot. I would have been useless.

I like your last line about if you had been born 100 years earlier. It makes me wonder how much talent we have sitting on the sidelines that will never be discovered.

That quote about “Dance like no one’s watching… etc” needs to include “Listen like you just got divorced”. :slight_smile:

I don’t know what my niche is.

I’m really good with kids. I find them invigorating and energizing. If I were independently wealthy, I’d probably help raise my brothers kids and/or volunteer at a daycare.

However I don’t want to do it as a job, because I don’t want to do it 8-12 hours a day. A passion and what you do for a living aren’t always the same thing.

I used to think it was science, but its not. Science is full of people far far smarter than I could ever hope to be, and god bless them. Let the people whose IQs are 2 SD to the right, or more, do the science. I will just enjoy the fruits of their labors.
I’m not sure what my niche is.

I envy you Wesley, I was never very good at interacting with kids, once they hit about 12 I do better from that point on. Even my own kids, I loved them like crazy but was not real good at entertaining them. Luckily my wife had a gift with children that seemed to run out when the kids hit about 12 so it worked out pretty good.

My mom came home from her first day of Kindergarten and said she wanted to be a teacher. She just retired from teaching a few month ago.

My dad has done about five different types of careers.

My wife is trying to decided when to switch to a third job.

I have no idea if I should switch to another because I go to work for money, not for fun.

I also can’t think of a favorite thing to do. I enjoy reading, playing games, hiking, traveling, etc. but I can’t think of one that I could call a niche. I love that this came up though! Post surgery I’m still trying to figure out what my ‘likes’ are. I’ll think of something and wonder ‘OK, do I still like this? Maybe not!’ I think I’ll keep the Ikigai chart to figure some things out.

I envy you then, because I’m like your wife. I get along great with kids but once they hit about 10-12 years old, I don’t know how to talk to them or relate to them anymore.