Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!
I feel everyone is looking at me. Curious. “How could a mom of 5 children possibly be a good translator?” They whisper to each other. “She doesn’t seem to have the same qualifications as the rest of us.” “How does she manage it?”
That’s what I think other translators are thinking when they see my qualifications.
So, I want to tell my story. I think it’s pretty unique. I haven’t yet met any other translators who are like me. So I gather my courage and write my first post on the Open Mic. After all, writing a blog post landed me a translation job in 2013.
As a high school student, I remember flipping pages of Translator’s magazine at the library, wishing I had the same magical skills as the translators that were featured in the articles. I chose to study abroad, with the intention of studying Linguistics. After graduating from college in the States, I applied to several universities which had Linguistics programs. When I was visiting a campus, my friend’s friend who was attending the school asked me how many languages I spoke. He seemed to be surprised to find I only spoke English other than Japanese, which wasn’t very good.
The feeling of an inadequacy and embarrassment never left me since then. I felt a huge gap between my skills and those of English native speakers. Fast forward to 2013, now married to a Canadian husband, and blessed with 5 children, I wrote a guest blog post about raising bilingual children in Canada.
My youngest was only 1 year old then, and although I was reading up on translation study books, I didn’t think I could work as a translator. What I didn’t know was I had what the client was looking for. The blogpost was the foot in the door. (As I said, I wasn’t planning to work as a translator when I was writing the guest post.) The more I learned about the translation industry, the more I studied to gain the skills that a translator needs. This time, I wasn’t going to let anyone get in my way of being the successful translator I once dreamed of becoming.
It’s been 2 years. I’ve made every effort to close the gap, to add value to my translation. What I lacked before, I took time to learn. As a translator who translates between Japanese and English, it may not be necessary to study other languages, but the understanding of other languages and linguistics definitely has helped me to be a better translator.
For the first year and a half, I took on all the projects that are sent on my way. I realized it wasn’t sustainable, (I wish I were a super mom, but I have my limitations) so I learned to pace myself.
Unlike many translators who are starting out as a translator after graduating from their studies, I already had experiences as a small business owner. My husband and I owned and managed 2 rental properties. I also gained organizational skills and leadership skills from numerous volunteering experiences.
I’ve learned from meeting translators all over the world, that each of us are unique. Instead of hiding behind inadequacy, it’s better to open up and try. No one is judging. If you feel like they are, try to be more honest and transparent, just like I did.
How could someone with 5 kids translate? That’s a good question. For my case, it’s my passion for learning, curiosity for languages, desire to leave a legacy, and to bridge the gap. I have a long-term goal, and my eyes are fixed on it.
So, when you feel like others have more experiences and are so much further ahead of you, think of what you were able to do before you got where you are now. Accentuate the positive experiences you’ve already accumulated in your life.
I truly believe if you are trying your hardest, others will see it and will help you along the way to become the translator you want to become. No more excuses. Climb higher.