Fear of not being good enough? Get over it. How young translators and interpreters can find the confidence to speak up

Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

At one point or another in your professional (and personal) life, I’m sure you’ve been there. I’m sure you’ve suffered from atelophobia, a.k.a. the fear of not being good enough.

You start your career in the translation and interpreting industry. You don’t know much, so you try, you fail, you try again. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fail again, so you keep trying. You begin to understand how things work. You find your way of doing things. You gain experience.

You work for a few years in the industry and you start to think that maybe you know a couple of things now. You’ve learnt from your mistakes and your successes. You’ve gathered knowledge. That experience has helped you shed some light on some of the things you didn’t know before. And maybe you think you could share that experience with others.

But you’re young, you’ve only been working for a few years. There are translators out there who have been working for decades. What if they don’t agree with what you have to say? What if they tell you that what you think you know is completely wrong? They’ve been working longer, so they must know better.

That feeling of insecurity kicks in. Your mind instantly amplifies your imperfections. You feel unworthy. You become paralyzed.

You begin to suffer from the fear of not being good enough.

If you recognize yourself in this story, I have a little piece of advice for you:


Let me go back a few steps.

I’m sure you’ve read tons of interesting articles written by experienced translators. Articles and blog posts where those translators share their wealth of knowledge and  push the whole translation community to do better. And they sound terribly confident, experienced and right on point.

You admire them. You’re intimidated by them. You’re inspired by them.

You want to be like them.

Well, don’t let that fear stop you from doing that.

Those inspiring translators were once just like you. They were younger, less experienced, probably insecure… But they tried.

One day they decided that they wouldn’t let fear get the best of them. They decided that it was time to share what they knew even if someone could tell them they were wrong. They decided to value their experience and their knowledge, to be ready to share it with others, and to be ready to learn from criticism.

Being young doesn’t mean you have nothing to give.

There will always be someone with more experience than you. But there will always be someone with less experience, too.

There will be older translators who know a lot more than you, but there will also be younger translators who will know a lot more than you.

Our world changes at an unprecedented pace, so maybe the things that more experienced translators learned when they were young do not apply anymore. You can be the voice of your generation. You can tell them what it’s like to be a young translator today, and they will learn something new from you. Equally, younger translators will learn from you how their life could be in a few years time.

Find the confidence to be who you want to be.


You should avidly read articles and blogs written by other translators. Listen to their voice. Learn from them. And if you don’t agree with them, let them know why. Critical thinking is a constructive way to push the industry forward. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but before you do, make sure that the answer isn’t already there.


Analyse the world around you, shape your ideas, express them in words. Write, make mistakes, learn from them. Understand your audience. Be the helpful hand you needed when you started your career.


Share your successes, and share your mistakes. No one is perfect, so no one can really judge you. Embrace criticism. Use positive responses as a motivator to keep going. Enjoy it. You’re unique, so your story will add something to the industry. Be honest.


Every experience has its value. You may find out that you’re really good at something. You may find out that you need to improve in a number of areas. Trust your instincts. If you’re unsure about your strengths and weaknesses, ask someone you trust to point them out to you. Use those strengths. Work on those weaknesses.


The only way to find the confidence and overcome the fear of not being good enough is to force yourself to try, if that’s what you want to achieve.

We’re in an industry where learning is a daily pleasure. Don’t waste this opportunity.

Speak up. Let everyone know what you know. Be an example. Give back.

Live the ‘What if…’.

Become who you want to be.


Martina Eco

About Martina Eco

London-based English and French to Italian translator and interpreter. Coffee lover. Traveler. Avid binge-watcher. In love with all things marketing, branding & social media. www.3p-translation.com

12 thoughts on “Fear of not being good enough? Get over it. How young translators and interpreters can find the confidence to speak up

  1. Great post Martina!
    I’m learning every day but I also hope to inspire others. Fear of being not good enough is often intertwined with an unjust treatment by others – whether they are clients or colleagues. It can therefore be overcome by standing up together, just what’s happening here on The Open Mic.

    1. Thank you Pieter.
      That’s true, unjust treatment is a powerful tool to kill someone’s confidence, especially at the beginning when you might not be 100% sure of everything you do or say. But when that happened I found comfort in talking to other colleagues who were supportive and helpful. There will always be someone criticising you, your work and your life. You just need to accept constructive criticism and let all the rest slide away. And build your own microcommunity within the wider industry community.

  2. Fantastic article, Martina! Congrats on publishing your first Open Mic story!

    I’m a big believer that the sky is the limit. I also think that age and experience has nothing to do with giving back or bringing value to the community. Leaders and experts are absolutely ordinary people with their own fears and insecurities. They simply know how to push themselves a little bit harder and that’s all.

    Sure thing, it’s scary to push harder, but at the end of the day, the result is incredibly satisfying and rewarding.

    1. Thank you Dmitry.
      I think you’ve done a terrific job with the Open Mic, giving everyone a safe place and a chance to share their views and stories with the whole translation community.
      I believe that the only way to overcome a fear is to do what you’re afraid of and be ready to stand up and try again if you fail. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, doesn’t it? 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing this post, Martina! It reminded me of Brené Brown’s work. I’m currently reading her latest book: “Daring Greatly”. Are you familiar with it?

    1. Hi Christelle,
      Thank you for your kind words. I’m not familiar with Brené Brown’s books, but I’ll definitely check them out. Thank you for letting me know!

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