Don’t allow anyone to either choose your niche for you, or force you into a particular niche.
The inspiration for tonight’s post comes, surprisingly enough, from tonight’s episode of “The Voice”. At one point, Adam Levine told one of the contestants, essentially, that they were responsible for choosing their own niche, music-wise, or even for choosing not to be limited to a single niche. As soon as I heard his words, a lightbulb went off over my head. I recently experienced someone trying to tell me where my niche was for my current novel-in-progress, and even to dictate who in that niche I was writing to. My mind kept sending up red flags and saying “No, no, no!”. I agreed that something was wrong, and did, indeed, pull back, but until now, I couldn’t quite put words to it. But the truth is, I have the right to choose which niche I’m writing to, and when I go through my editing process, I have the right to not alter it to fit someone else’s idea of my niche, including the language I use and the scenes I set.
But in life, it’s a lot more than that. As children, our parents have expectations of us. At first, it’s simple things like keeping our room clean, doing our homework, brushing our teeth and getting good grades. As we get older, it might be college or a particular trade. This is the point where many of us rebelled because we are not our parents. Our hopes, dreams and desires are our very own, and we need to be allowed to follow them. If we fail, it’s our own lesson, and if we succeed, well, we will hopefully be very happy we followed our own heart.
As my kids grew up, and especially my daughter, Heather, they thought that I expected them to want what I wanted for them. Aside from wanting them to get an education, I really wanted them to test their own wings and find what brought them joy. Heather has finally realized that she doesn’t need my approval on the direction her life takes. Or, rather, she’s learned that she has my approval, no matter what. I may not agree with the choices she makes, but I respect the fact that they’re her choices, and her lessons. It is simply not my place to dictate what she should and should not choose. When she asks for my opinion, I give it, but knowing her as I do, I’ve learned to qualify it with “this is only my opinion. Whatever you choose to do will still be fine with me.” Old habits die hard with her, and even in that, I try to respect the fact that they do by making every effort to assure her that I am not trying to tell her what decisions she should make.
Recently, this give and take has led to some pretty productive brain storming sessions, especially when it comes to new flavors for her cakes and cupcakes. She has become a lot more likely to bounce things off of me, knowing that I respect her skill and expertise, and am just tossing out things she might want to consider…no strings attached.
I was raised a little differently. I had to learn for myself that if I disappointed my mom, so be it. I still needed to do what I felt was right for me. In fact, she’d be pretty horrified by the path I’ve been following for the last few months. At the very least, she’d insist that I was irresponsible. But as I’ve long since ceased to view my life in accordance with her standards, I’m much happier for it, and figure I’m allowed to be foolish now and then, because if I fall down, I take the responsibility for both the fall and for picking myself back up again.
Whether it’s an artistic niche, a life path, or any of a multitude of major decisions we’ll make in a lifetime, the most important thing we can all learn is that the only person we need to impress, the only person we need to keep happy, the only opinion that really counts…is our own.
Throughout our lives, we are ultimately responsible for one person, and one person only.
There are a lot of people out there who think that it is their mission in life to change other people for the better. It’s not that their heart isn’t in the right place, it’s just that they’re misguided. It isn’t their job, their responsibility or their right to decide what’s best for me, or you, any more than it’s our right to decide what is best for them. As parents, we guide our children for a little while. We give them tools to help them make better decisions. But when all is said and done, the decisions about their life path belong to them. Whether they choose one niche or five niches or no niche at all, our only job is to love and respect them, whatever they do.
While having our Human Experience, we Divine Beings (that’s all of us, by the way) are tasked with learning a great many lessons. The most important one of all, if you ask me, is acceptance. The people we love should never feel that they need to justify their decisions to anyone but themselves. That is a gift we can give to them; that acceptance of their choices. Trying to control other people would be like trying to control a body part. You wouldn’t insist that an arm perform the functions of an ear. So why expect another human being to live their life in accordance with your talents, values and experiences?
For now, let’s all just try to be more accepting. Maybe once we’ve gotten good at it, we can work on erasing the term and the associated behavior of “Judgement” from our vocabulary.
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for inspiration from unusual sources.
2. I am grateful for learning to accept people’s differences. Doing so opens up my life in unexpected and fabulous ways.
3. I am grateful for the red flags I’ve learned to recognize. They keep me from bad situations like self-doubt.
4. I am grateful for busy, productive days.
5. I am grateful for abundance: inspiration, joy, health, happiness, friendship, love, acceptance and prosperity.
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