The word niche is poison to the mind.
How much can you live for when you limit your interests to one thing and present yourself that way?
We are colorful in nature. Think about what we do to work, to play, to study, to have fun with, to talk about the different kinds of things with different kinds of people.
Can you stand talking about the same thing with someone, and to have everyone paint you as “The Marvel Guy” or “The Handbag Girl”? It’s addicting at first, to know you are validated for what you’re interested in. We enjoy what we like. Of course it’s nice to view it that way.
Ironically, it shapes their impression: and sooner or later without realizing, you are put into a box of understanding and no one can see you in any other form. They will only talk to you about Marvel. they will only ask you for brand advice. They will only talk to you about what you spend time being interested in.
What about your other parts? What about the parts where you’re suffering, or the other interests that you might have, or your family and loved. One’s, on your opinions on the world and what you may be interested in making? Those aren’t part of your title. Those are unrelated.
So they drift away, waiting for you to finally give them the answer they’re looking for. Your value is at the mercy of their impression of you.
You have been Defined.
What does it mean to be defined?
To be defined is dangerous. It limits the constraints of potential interest towards you by other people.
This is mainly because of expectation. People start to expect you to talk about a specific topic all the time. And if you start talking about something else (which I know you will do so anyway, as per the Polymathic Compartmental Model), their expectations of you fall, and they lose interest. Weird, right?
It’s like meeting your financial planner to talk about poetry. You already came in with an expectation: you need to talk to them about money. Your life plans. You need expert guidance. You need to consult their advice.
Next thing you know, they’re talking about the amazing prose of Mary Oliver, the wonders of Hemingway, on Tolstoy and all of his mistakes. And you ask yourself, what am I listening to this for?
So you tune out. Our expectations have conditioned us into assigning multiple interests from individuals as irrelevance, and we respond by becoming ignorant.
We have inevitably defined them. Lawyers will always seek arguments. Doctor friends will always be available for medical advice. Mathematicians are always nerds. Rocket scientists are always super smart.
Expectation undermines impression. One’s name becomes defined by the one thing they do.
The tragedy of retired athletes
We start to see this relationship, of identity and its connection to what we do, fall apart through retired athletes: once they are done playing on the basketball court, fighting matches for years during their professional boxing career, or being a world-time champion or MVP of many encounters, what do they do?
They retire - and the weight of retirement starts to loom over their value.
This was the ONE thing they did: they defined themselves by the ONE thing they did. And now that they do not do that one thing anymore, they are now ZERO.
Some retirees become restless, some start to dabble in other interests, but most if not all go through a phase of conflict: of self-doubt, of regaining a new identity without the preceding foundations of their professional career.
Some do well, some don’t. They look back with nostalgia on their previous success, and they assume they have to do the same in any other interest. But they are Defined: and with Defined comes their metric for reward and prestige, and that’s not always going to translate well when you’re about to try something new for the first time again. It’s time for them to be [[Lost Children]] again.
So, what is the answer?
The undefined are those who have already known this from the beginning: that their actions do not dictate their identity, and their ability to pursue anything, whatever it may be, feeds into their personality as a whole. It’s a universal understanding, and people can see that in them.
As a result, if we start to talk about them to other people, it becomes hard to put them into a label: are they a dancer, scientist, carpenter, politician? A dancing scientific wood suit? I wouldn’t know.
But this truth starts to emerges: your interests are yours to bear, but not yours to embody. You are given a chance to explore them, and that in itself is a blessing. But don’t let it define you. Pursuing God doesn’t make you one. It makes you a pious man in their image but it does not make you the exact same.
the complications start to arise and have a 180 effect - because people cannot define you, they find you more interesting. You stand out from the crowd of defined sheep, as your complications lead to a different, new color. People stop expecting you to do one thing; they expect you to keep going.
It’s a strange madness effect if you think about it. Why is it that the most eccentric, crazy, prolific people are well-revered? they don’t fit that mold. It’s hard to define them.
That’s because that their skills, their obsession, their personality, one built by the universal experiences of all of their interests, feeds into their output and general prolific work. They have built a body of work based on their dreams. Everybody understands the universal wisdom by pursuing what you love, even if it takes many shapes and forms.
So as I wake up to meditate, do calisthenics to look like a mad beast, write short story fiction in the paracosm of my own universe, continue learning multiple languages, get to the studio to do some capoeira, and dance to the beats of Gallant, I slowly become further Undefined - so as to seek my own colorful kaleidoscope of my life.
I am undefined - it’ll take a whole book to try to explain who I am. But that’s the joy of it: following my journey is worth the experience.
Choosing which child to love
All of your children are yours to love. There isn’t a choice. To niche is to abandon a part of you for society. Don’t ever do that.
Choose all of them at once, and obsess over having a good time with them, because the reward for that will always be meaningful to you and is worth your time as well.