Posted by: patenttranslator | July 15, 2022

Fitting Into a Niche

If you want to be successful in your job or career, you have to fit into a niche. This has always been true, about any job. There may be quite a few niches available to you in a particular profession or vocation, or not that many.

I found out that this is true about translators as well, or at least about this translator. What’s more, I also realized a long time ago that the characteristics of a particular niche into which one fits so comfortably at first are likely to change over time, so much so that the original niche that was so favorable to your particular strength or weaknesses may kind of disappear, especially after a few or many years.

In my case, this disappearance of a great market niche, at least partially, fortunately happened only after a period of about three decades. In fact, I was very fortunate that the particular niche I chose when I started translating for a living in the eighties, namely translation of patents, first only from Japanese, and later also from German and other languages (French, Russian), lasted as long as it did, which is to say from approximately mid 80’s of the last century until approximately the second decade of this century.

As much as we may hate fitting into a certain commercial mold the way all the boring but financially secure people around us seem to fit in just fine, we have to somewhat adjust our attitude to realities of life when we simply have to find enough work to earn a living. Picking the right niche right from the beginning is probably the best survival strategy.

But as mentioned, nothing lasts forever. In my case, although the demand for patent translations did not disappear, it was greatly reduced, mostly by the appearance of inexpensive new labor pools, (in China with respect to Japanese translations), and advances in machine translation technology.

But fitting into a particularly niche is not only about our work and our need to find customers willing to pay for what we can do for them.

Throughout the various times and seasons of our life, we must be looking for and hopefully finding a niche that we will fit into. We start realizing it in high school. It is very painful if we cannot fit into a suitable clique of cool youngsters in our high school if we are too different, and an immense relief when we find young people who are just like us, whom we can understand and who seem to understand us.

Then we have to still fit a particular pattern or niche as we are growing up and also as adults, men usually as husbands who have to take care of a family, women who must take care of their children, just about every minute of the day when they are still tiny toddlers. Then the kids grow up and fly out of their safe nest into the wild world, where we may not be really able to reach them.

At all.

The modern pattern for the carefree niche when the kids are no longer living with their parents used to and maybe still does go by the acronym DINKS (Double Income No Kids). But in many cases it is not a quiet and happy time of our life, as it is period that instead of being carefree and liberating, more and more in our times ends in divorce.

And what comes after that? Retirement, one might say, which should be a blissful time when we no longer have to carry the world on our shoulder as the Beatles put it long time ago because … nobody really needs us anymore.

That’s good, right? Finally, a niche that we can fit into without much effort, as long as we are financially secure. even though we no longer have to work. The problem is that in this niche, we are much more limited by our health, which starts to deteriorate after decades of largely faultless performance for the lucky among us, including myself. But now, like an old car that has too many miles on it and that has been survived a few light or semi-serious collisions, our body no longer works as easily and smoothly as it used to, even if we try to repair or replace old and broken parts, never forgetting an oil change.

And what comes after that? Well it’s pretty clear, isn’t it. Do I need to spell it out? Guess not. After that will come he last niche that we need to fit into in the end.

I have a friend who goes, several times a week, to visit the graves of her husband, who died of cancer quite some time ago, and her son who died at the age of sixteen in a car accident. She could never really reconcile herself with the fact that somebody as young and talented would suddenly disappear from her world as if he never existed. But the last niche that we somehow have fit into is the one reality that is undeniably there, waiting for us all, no matter how much we may try not to think about it.

But in my case, nobody will come to a place where I would be residing in my last niche, the one that we all must fit into when the time comes without even trying, because I decided to have a limited version of Viking’s funeral, which is to say to have my bodily remains incinerated in a mighty fire. POOF. That way, I will be everywhere, because I will be nowhere.

I even put it in my Last Will and Testament, had the thing properly registered with my lawyer and then notarized to make sure that it will be done. Nobody would come to mourn and communicate with me through their thoughts and memories at the cemetery anyway. Old friends that I used to have live on a different continent anyway, as do my children, who are fortunately too busy with their own lives anyway to think about me.

So it’s much better this way.


  1. As always, deeply relevant PT. Thank you for this one which reads like poetry to many ears, gathering the wind/fragrance (or whatever else) of our times. As someone said about the poetry of Miguel Hernandez.
    Times of intense estrangement, perhaps good for those of us who appreciate solitude and can make the best of it.
    Your reflection ends on a triumphant note, i hope.
    This body too will go up in flames, and hopefully merge with the One fire that keeps banging, while simultaneously resting.
    You are good company my friend.
    Swami Pujananda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post as usually


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kind of sad to read.


  4. Could you ensure that your blog stays up as a memorial offered to translators who enjoyed your words and your mind?


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