How to beat loneliness when working as a freelance translator


by Louise Taylor

The benefits of being independent and in charge of your own activities draw many people into freelance translating. Without a timeclock or manager looking over their shoulder, freelancers can highlight their creative skills without distractions and pressure. The ability to work when you are feeling most productive is a plus as well. Instead of having to adhere to another’s schedule, you can carve out a work environment that makes sense for you.

For most freelancers, one of the best things about their work is the peace and quiet they experience. But at some point, even the most introverted translator may experience feelings of loneliness. No matter how successful your translation services are, or how much you enjoy what you are doing, these feelings of isolation can be painful.

Translators Get Lonely Too

Credits: Photo by Stefen Tan on Unsplash

As human beings, we’re not meant to be isolated. In fact, researchers have noted that people who live in cultures with the highest longevity live and work among others in interconnected groups. They suggest that the state of our physical and mental health is dependent upon human companionship. While freelance translators get plenty of human interaction online, it isn’t the same as the connectedness found within a caring and supportive community of like-minded individuals.

Some freelance translators are able to survive just fine with very little “peopling” (and prefer it that way). However, even these individuals can find themselves experiencing monotony, and their work may begin to feel lackluster. The lack of stimulation they feel can often only be counterbalanced by human interaction. To varying degrees, we all need connection for our survival.

Tips For Translators Who Want To Overcome Loneliness

We’ve put together a few ideas to help overcome the loneliness sometimes associated with being a freelance translator. These tips can help put you back on the path of freelancing camaraderie without you having to sacrifice your independence.

Credits: Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

1. Volunteer

Volunteering is always appreciated and is a great way to beat isolation. You can easily choose an activity that is not related to translation, allowing your mind to rest and focus on others. There are so many volunteering opportunities available that you can always find something that matches your interests. And it allows you to engage with others on your terms.

2. Join a translation organization

Joining an organization or group for translators is something that not only enhances your career prospects but can also open up avenues for socializing as well. It’s an opportunity to mingle with freelancers who work at other translation agencies and who share your skills and interests. It can also help you see what others are doing differently, and maybe even find other translators to collaborate with.

There are many such associations for translation agencies and freelancers, at international, national, and local levels. If you have clients in many countries, joining an international organization makes sense, and will allow you to communicate with others via the internet. However, to truly combat loneliness, joining a local branch for translation service professionals will probably be the most beneficial, while still allowing you to stick to your freelance career goals.

3. Join a spiritual or personal enrichment group

Most translators work long hours and often multitask to complete their work. It isn’t uncommon to see freelancers who have let their favorite activities or spiritual practices fall by the wayside as they build their translation careers. Taking time to nourish your spiritual health through yoga, meditation or attending services is one way to interact with others and care for yourself at the same time.

Credits: Photo by Erik Brolin on Unsplash

Additionally, if you have a favorite hobby such as drawing or playing an instrument, joining a group that shares these interests is an excellent idea. Even a quick get together with your favorite guitar buddy or a session of creating artwork with a friend can make a difference. You are allowed to (and should) have interests outside of the translation industry!

Freelance Translators May Work Alone, But They Don’t Have To Be Lonely

There are many ways to combat the loneliness of working freelance. It may be hard at first to force yourself out of your comfort zone and into unfamiliar activities. You may feel like you are squandering valuable time away from your translation services. However, the benefits of being involved with others, even for short periods of time, can pay off in the long run.

If you find yourself frequently overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness that interfere with your work and personal life, you might also benefit from some one-on-one help. If you feel the tips above are too daunting for you to consider, speaking with a trusted friend, life coach or therapist might help you to find the right way forward.

About the author:

Louise Taylor manages content for Tomedes, a translation agency covering over 90 languages and serving clients based around the globe. She has worked in the language and translation industry as a freelancer for six years and plans to do so forevermore.

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