I had some doubts about writing this post. The thing is it might look like I’m bragging, and no one likes that, right? But over the past couple of weeks I’ve been communicating with people much more than I usually do and it made me think about all sorts of things one of them being the fact that we all tend to be too hard on ourselves. This is why I decided to take the risk of coming across as a show-off to make an important point: we should give ourselves credit where credit is due.
The other day I was thinking that I must finally get down to making an about page for my website. That was when I realized how much things have changed in the past few months. It won’t be an exaggeration to say, that there have been more changes in my professional life in the last 10 months than in the previous 10 years!
I have been working as a freelance translator since 2005. In 2006, I worked as an in-house translator and interpreter at the City Development Institute of Nizhniy Novgorod, but only for a few months.
Since there’re not so many interpreting gigs in my city, I gradually switched to translation only. I started out working for Russian translation agencies. In a couple of years, I began collaborating with European agencies as well and that’s how things had been running until last April, when I started taking myself more seriously as a business owner, stopped going with the flow and began marketing my services.
Here’s what I managed to do in the past 10 months (alongside working as a full-time translator and living a life):
- In July, I launched my web-site, which I’m very proud of. It’s not surprising considering the fact that less than a year ago I had no idea about web design, WordPress, hosting and a lot of other things.
- In August, I started writing this blog and some of the posts I published here got quite a bit of traction. One of them was even translated into Spanish!
- In October, I launched a side project called I Love Mondays. I’ve been sending my translations of articles about starting a business and being productive to a tight-knit community of people who want to make the most of their lives for the past 21 weeks and this is something I look forward to every single week.
- In January, I had a chance to present at a webinar on marketing translation business online together with my friend and colleague Dmitry Kornyukhov.
- On February, 17 Dmitry and I launched another amazing project — the first live talk-show about the translation profession called Blabbing Translators.
If someone had told me that I would do all these things (or even any of them!) in a matter of months, I wouldn’t have believed them! Still it’s true.
How come I hadn’t done all of this earlier? What was different?
The only thing that has changed is the way I see myself. That’s it. It’s all in our head.
I believed that I can build a web-site, and I did it. Even if at first it seemed that nothing good will come out of it and I felt like a complete idiot, when I couldn’t make the front page look as nice as the theme’s demo.
I believed that I have something to share, and it turned out people liked what I had to say and even wanted to pass that on!
I believed that I can use my skills to take some great practical and motivational articles and make them available to people who wouldn’t have found them otherwise because they don’t know English that well, and I did it. And no, it’s not always easy to find the time for translating another thousand of words a week, but I have managed to do it until now and I’m planning to go on because I believe that it can make someone’s life better.
I believe that every voice matters and this is where I find the inspiration and courage to share my own experience and why I think that Blabbing Translators project has a very bright future ahead of it.
So, maybe I’m unique in some way? Maybe I have something no one else has, a superpower of some sort? Maybe I can go without sleep for 50 hours straight? Or have a particularly thick skin and don’t care about what other people will think or say about me? I wish it was the case, but it’s not.
I have to sleep and even, you know, do other things in life, like going to the movies with my husband, playing board games with my friends or visiting my Grandma. And I take all comments to heart (I’m unbelievably lucky that the translators’ community is so kind and supportive!).
I just learned a few things that help me move forward. I learned to embrace the fear, the mistakes, and the imperfections. And more importantly, I learned to look back and feel proud of my accomplishments because this is something that fuels my creativity and helps me do amazing things.
Like any other professionals, translators have a choice: we can either just do our work without being too active in the industry or we can get engaged in projects that have the potential of changing how things work. As someone who has now tried both approaches, I can say that the second option feels way more fulfilling and it provides countless opportunities to grow both as a professional and a human being.
There are hundreds of ways in which each of us can contribute to making the translation profession more visible and even change the industry so that it’s no longer viewed as something to be scorned at by some of our colleagues. The most important thing is to understand that you matter.
So take a look at what you have already achieved and give yourself a mental pat on the back, because this is how you gain confidence. And that’s what you need to make things happen.