Concerns, fears and insecurities in the world of translation. Do we have them all?

Many of us translators work alone in our homes. Maybe we have a slight contact with our colleages, but I do not think it to be something constant or daily. Although not all of us have the same way of working and translating, we all agree on many aspects: the fears and insecurities a translation can cause to us. Do we all share these fears and insecurities? Let us take a look at some of the problems we have collected.

There will not be a next project

Perhaps more than we believe, all translators often fear that a next project will not appear. This is completely irrational and hard to explain. There always will be a next project, but I am talking about the period of time between finishing a translation and the arrival of the next one. If we pass three days withut a project, we get paranoid. In our minds there is a phrase that keeps repeating itself unconsciously: “what if”. Then, of coursewe laugh at ourselves when three new projects arrive at once

I am not good enough

This constant doubt and the quest for perfection can be Good, of course. Most of us are perfectionists and, in a profession like translation, doubting is a generally good sign. We would like to be able to say that, with due time, these fears and insecurities disappear. However, we believe that they only diminish and follow all translators throughout their careers. Our weapon to combat them was to perform all the tests and obtain all the possible titles to use them as arguments against all my doubts. But then we started to think, “okay, we were good for this project, but this is a whole new thing… What if we’re not good enough for it?”. Is there any chance of getting out of this doubt?

How do I know I am doing things right?

Working alone in itself has its benefits, but it also limits our opportunities to secretly compare ourselves with our co-workers. In a normal office environment, you get an idea of how others work, their aptitude and their results. You can more or less compare yourself to others and achieve a little peace of mind with your fears and insecurities. You can also ask them how they do things, or how to do things the way they do. But, because we are freelance translators, we do things our own way, without the possibility of looking at someone else’s work. And even though there is a lot of advice out there, how do we know if we were right? What if we forget something important?

I am going to get sick

As our only support for years, we develop a real fear of getting sick and not being able to work. This fear applies to anything, from a mild cold to imagining serious, chronic illnesses. Our head is full of scenarios and emergency measures to deal with illnesses, accidents or unforeseen circumstances. Do we all suffer from these fears and insecurities?

I am doing too many things at the same time

Specially in today’s environment, where we are told that multitasking is wrong and reduces our productivity. Many of us think that doing lots of things at the same time reduces our efficiency as translators. Of course, doing just one task is the current trend, and questions such as “do you have time to translate?” do not take the pressure off. Perhaps these fears and insecurities are based on the underlying thought that we will not be taken seriously if we do too many things. While doing many or too many things, or time, are subjective, sometimes, reducing additional or secondary projects is counterproductive. However, there are many people out there who prosper when they do many things at the same time.

I am wrong: one of my biggest fears and insecurities

The fear of being wrong is employed far beyond mere freelance translation. It is often the basis for many behaviours and reactions. I am afraid of making a mistake when I am correcting or editing someone else’s work. Fear of being wrong when I am giving advice. I am terrified of making a mistake when I am talking to new clients. The good part of this fear is motivation, which pushes us to be better professionals. The dark side of this fear turns some of us aggressive and defensive.

Have you ever experienced any of these fears and insecurities? Do you have anything else that you have experienced or observed in others?

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