Imposter Syndrome and Translators: Don’t Sabotage Your Success

Do you suffer from imposter syndrome?

If you don’t, consider yourself lucky.

One of the biggest problems that freelance translators face when just starting out (and even some who are already successful) is imposter syndrome.

And what exactly is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is the idea/feeling that you are inadequate.

That you are an imposter who has no right or qualifications that give you the right to do what you are doing.

Translators aren’t the only ones who suffer from it.

People from all walks of life and who are invovled in all sorts of different industries also suffer from this feeling of inadequacy.

Some people even describe it as feeling like they are being fake.

And this isn’t merely a feeling that will come and go away.

For some, it’s debilitating. It keeps them from moving ahead, taking risks, and marketing their products and services to other people.

In fact, this feeling can easily ruin a business if it goes unchecked.

To know if it’s affecting your business, it’s important to first understand if imposter syndrome is something that you suffer from.

Here are some telltale signs and way’s to solve them.

You constantly compare yourself to others.

We all compare ourselves sometimes. That’s OK if we’re using those comparisons to see how we can improve and become better.

However, when those comparisons cause us to feel like we’re not good enough, they become detrimental.

When we compare ourselves or our progress as freelance translators to others, it has a tendency to not motivate us but instead cause us to doubt ourselves.

The thint to remember, though, is that there is more than one path to success.

My route to freelance translator is different than yours. Your route is going to be different than someone else’s.

Success comes at the end of many different paths. Don’t be afraid to be on your own path as long as it’s consistently moving forward.

You’re worried that you don’t have a translation degree

One of the worst things about imposter syndrome is that it has the power to turn us into irrational beings.

I’ve seen this happen so much in regards to would-be translators abandoning their desire to become translators just because they don’t have a degree in translation.

What they don’t realize (or want to realize after I’ve repeatedly told them otherwise) is that they don’t need a translation degree to become a successful freelance translator.

Sure, there are a lot of translators out there that have translation degrees.

I’m one of them.

But again, that is just one route to success and I would say for most people is not the route that they should take.

If you’re worried that nobody will hire you if you don’t have a translation degree, you need to rethink. This is completely false.

Clients do not hire you based on whether or not you have a college degree in translation.

Don’t let your lack of one deter you from pursuing your dream of becoming a freelance translator.

You’re not a native ___________ speaker.

Most successful freelance translators are native speakers in the language they translate into, their target language.

But that’s not always the case.

You are not an imposter if you translate into your non-native language.

If you can do it, that just means you’re doubly awesome.

I can’t do it but that by no means implies that you can’t.

If you can, embrace it and own it.

Your native language-speaking ability (whether in English or another language) is not directly tied to your ability to become a successful freelance translator.

You’re too old/too young to become a successful translator

What if I said you were too fat to become a successful translator?

What about too skinny?

Or too tall or short?

Ridiculous, right?

Just like you physical stature makes no difference to your ability to successfully operate a freealnce translation business, your age doesn’t matter either.

Your ability is what is important, irrespective of how old or young you are.

I have high school age kids emailing me wanting to start a freelance translation business but are worried they are too young.

What they don’t know is that I also have retired adults emailing me, worried that they are too old to become translators!

There are no age barriers to becoming a freelance translator. Only your ability.

Your gender determines your success as a translator

Again, just like the previous point, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, your ability, determination, and drive will lead you in the direction you want to go.

Plenty of women email and wonder if their gender will inhibit their success.

What they don’t realize is that women actually dominate the translation industry.

Men are the minority.

Which is to say that anyone can become a successful freelance translator, regardless of gender.

You don’t have a translation certification

Translation certification is not a requirement for becoming a successful freelance translator.

Don’t spend time and money on pursuing a translation certification just because you think it will guarantee you translation jobs and future clients.

The only reason to get a translation certification is if it makes sense for your own personal circumstance.

Certification can be good for a translator. But like most things, just because it works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be good for you.

You don’t live in the United States

This is one of the worst traps to fall into because it’s so false.

Freelance translators are extremely lucky in that they can choose where they want to live.

Sure, there are many successful freelance translators that live in the United States.

However, there are even more successful freelance translators that live outside the United States.

Location doesn’t determine success for a freelance translator.

In fact, that is one of the things that makes translation such an attractive option for so many people.

You can live in a cheaper place but still have access to everything you need based on the power of the Internet.

Imposter Syndrome: Conclusion

So, here’s what you need to remember.

First of all, imposter syndrome is common. It’s not just limited to you or to translators.

In fact, lots of famous people suffer from imposter syndrome.

Second of all, there lots of ways that imposter syndrome can manifest itself.

The important thing to realize is that even if you feel inadequate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are inadequate.

You have as much right to work towards your freelance translation goal as anyone else.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


P.S. If you need more tips on how to succeed as a freelance translator, be sure to buy my book.

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