Turbo TV is on in the background. My kids are having friends over and are up late on a school-night, watching television. I hear a character announce himself, defiantly, I am the fastest on this planet!
In a world of racing snails and aliens (seriously, what IS this show?) it’s very much a part of this character’s identity that he. is. FAST. It’s how he defines himself. It’s his niche.
In my social media news feed, niche personalities and articles scroll through daily, moment by moment. The mom-blogger, the homeschool-blogger, the doulas, the feminist, those who rock at Pinterest and those who do not, the photographers, the writers, the poets, the knitters, the bookworms, the bakers, the candle makers, and so on and so forth. Everyone, seems to have a corner. Every one of their online personalities has a niche.
After awhile, I’ll be honest, I start to think: well, why can’t I make from scratch dinners each evening after successful and easy mornings of homeschooling and afternoons of corresponding with clients between trips to farmer’s markets or organic stores or trips to scenic parks or quirky kid-friendly places – taking photographs all along the way to share in my latest blog, which I will write so eloquently after my sweet children are sleeping soundly.
It begins to feel like I ought to be able to do it all, and do it all as well as those who have made it their own personal online life.
It’s getting to be too much for my brain to handle. I know this, because I actually felt a moment of enough already, when someone (for what seems like the thousand millionth time) shared an article on the mess and the beauty of this life of marriage and motherhood. (Pot calling kettle black here? Um, yes.)
But truly, what mother (who reads such things online) hasn’t read at least ONE blog about life being “messy, but beautiful and worth every bit of the effort” – or marriage being about “the actions of love, not the emotions or the warm fuzzies” – or “children needing to be told “no” once in a while, and isn’t being the “mean mom” just so exhausting?” at least once in the last year.
Really. Think about it. (If you’ve ever read anything I’VE written, you’re already covered, because, again, I’m a pot calling the kettle black and I realize this.)
Honestly, I think it only stuck out to me, because I had just written something similar recently, but also, because in my heart and in my head, maybe without even realizing it, I’ve become part of this race to find a niche. And, imperfect motherhood, that seemed, well, pretty easy.
I mean, here I am, typing this at a crumb dusted kitchen table, surrounded by mismatched plastic cups with varying levels of water or milk in them and a gaggle of kids sitting in my living room watching (one of the weirdest) cartoons (ever.)
But, I’m not a celebrity (or pseudo) celebrity anywhere, and I have no 20,000 person Facebook following or well-defined niche to market.
For a solid ten minutes, I sat here and thought about that. I started to realize, well…I am not the voice of imperfect motherhood. I am not the voice of the small business mompretreneur, I am not the voice of homeschooling moms, I am not the voice of writers or photographers. I am not the voice of anyone, but me.
I am nicheless.
I have lots of things that I do, I’m spread thin as tissue paper some days, but, I am a master of none.
Each of those descriptions: mom, photographer, homeschooler, writer, imperfect – they are all me. But, maybe, and this might just be the blessing I need to accept: I am not them.
And maybe, just maybe, you are nicheless too.
And maybe the freedom of that realization will make you feel good too.
Maybe you sometimes see people or writers or moms out there in your feeds. Maybe you read their articles regularly and admire and want to emulate what they do, either to reach their market with your words, or to simply emulate their perfect dinner plans, their interior design, their motherhood-humor, their niche. And that’s not wrong. It’s not at all.
I’m just accepting that I can’t.
And I’m remembering why I started writing here in the first place, for myself. I began writing here, for the same reasons I began blogging when Alex was a baby – to have a place where I can ramble and vent and maybe sometimes make something beautiful, even if only for myself.
It reminds me, all of the other things about life that happen when I let go of the idea that I could ever possibly have a niche so well defined as to command an online presence.
I’m not defined by one single area of who I am. I can have my hobbies (very amateur baking and cake decorating, words, daydreaming) and I can go ahead and be a colossal, silly, messy disaster some days, and a parental, writer, photographer genius the next.
There is no failure, only the freedom to try again.
There is no need to impress, just live.
How about we all just be good at that: Living.
Let’s be good at noticing the extraordinary ordinary along with the magical and marvelous.
Let’s Rest. Let’s turn off the computer. Let’s daydream. Journal. Doodle.
Let’s sit in a rocking chair with a small child and our smartphones out of arms-reach.
Let’s be bored.
Let’s not scroll through our media feeds and instead make eye contact with the people around us in the check-out line, and not just because they have an unruly child or have 15 items in a (clearly marked) 12 Item or Less line.
Let’s high-five our partners or spouses while brushing our teeth at night and acknowledge that just getting through another day of parental insanity, that’s pretty awesome.
Let’s stop trying to fit ourselves into a box, any box, because niche articles and bloggers and celebrity (and pseudo celebrity) personalities are all meant to inspire us in one area, and not to be taken all together, inspiring us to become stressed out, burnt out, messy Pinterest failures or make us feel like lame parents because don’t have time or artistic talents to create origami artwork out of our kid’s lunch napkins every day – or disappointed artists or writers or bloggers or mothers who feel forever overlooked and under-appreciated because someone else out there is saying the same thing, but getting so many more “likes” and “shares” on your news feed.
Let’s all just breathe.
You can’t be everything.
I can’t be everything.
And…oh my goodness, how good does that feel to admit?