Valentina Ambrogio — professional English to Italian Translator, Localiser and Subtitler

8 Random Confessions of a Translator

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all.

8 Random Confessions of a Translator

Posted by Valentina Ambrogio in Rockstar Translations 30 Sep 2017

Happy International Translation Day :)
Here’s a random post with eight just as random confessions, which I think some of you may relate to. Full disclosure: this post has been in my drafts since June 2016 (!), so some of the feelings laid out here are not as strong as they used to be, because a lot has changed, I have changed, and I am still changing. Here we go!

1. Fresh nail polish is a productivity booster

I like typing on my keyboard after I apply some nail polish to my short and bitten nails.

2. Many of the skills I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt because I had to

I am happy now with the skills that I have, but like many others I had to improvise at first and ask for help, hoping that my client wouldn’t find out. Later I realised that being honest is way better. Saying “I have never used this tool/feature/etc but I am happy to learn, and I learn fast” is better than doing a bad job and risking losing that client for good.

3. It only takes ONE email

Sometimes it takes me just one little email or message to decide whether I want to work with a client or a colleague.

4. Even though I know I am qualified, I always doubt my skills

Impostor syndrome, anyone? I know, in number 2 I say that I am happy with the skills I have acquired, but that doesn’t mean I don’t doubt myself every single day. The only difference is that now I just carry on and see how everything unfolds.

5. Webinars are overrated

I was very excited about webinars when I was starting out and purchased many online short courses, but now… Well, I found out that some trainers have no qualifications in the field they “teach”, so I kind of lost interest. Often they’re just general information you can easily find on the Internet. BUT there are many other trainers that actually know what they’re doing and they are worth every single penny. You just have to find them and invest your money wisely!

6. I am an obsessive reviewer of my work

It is extremely rare that I like the first draft of my translations. I usually try to allocate enough time to translate and then review the whole thing… TWICE!

7. I feel like an outsider

Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong to the current online translation community. I have a hard time finding a connection with my colleagues’ experiences; OR I feel like you all evolve and I am stuck in my old ways; OR I see very harsh attitudes in general, and I just don’t want to be part of it. BUT I know it’s partly my fault and I’ll explain why in number 8.

8. Sometimes I have a hostile approach

Because of number 7, all my insecurities resurface and I tend to have a rather (for lack of a better word) hostile approach and isolate myself, therefore becoming one of those people that make it difficult for others to just connect. This happens especially when I go through rough patches, both professionally and personally. It’s like high school all over again. You want to belong, but you take so many steps back because of your insecurities, that you actually end up being all alone.

I know I am not the only one feeling this way, and it’s also quite stupid since the translation community is one of the most inclusive groups out there. This sort of problems comes from within, but instead of looking for a sensible solution, it’s easier to make useless comparisons and think that other people “cannot understand because their life is easier.” Social media and that filtered reality do not help either.

But I am happy to say that I have started an inner revolution many months ago. That’s why I took a step back from blogging and interviewing colleagues. I am walking a more relaxed path, so to speak, to rediscover the joys of being a member of this community. I like to say that I am a feminist – and I strive to be a good one – and open-minded, but we can all agree it’s easy to fall into the trap of insecurities and ending up being too harsh just to shield ourselves from the outside world. Sometimes we just are our worst enemy.

What a serious twist this post took, huh? :) You might wonder what’s the point, and the point is that we are not just translators/interpreters/entrepreneurs/etc, we are people who get in touch with each other and build relationships, so it’s important to remember that the “human factor” is always playing a role in this – we’re not robots or superheroes (although sometimes we are superheroes!), but we can be superhumans! And today I want to celebrate my flaws and my strengths as a professional.

Additional note: I have found inspiration in places I never thought possible, from people very different than me doing things I would never ever do. I am still not interested in everything everybody does, that’s just not who I am. But it’s important to remember that that’s ok. So keep an open mind and enjoy our day!

A little musical treat: “In My Mind” – Amanda Palmer

Peace out!


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