Why does one make the abrupt career change from manager to freelancing translator, and why so late in life?

20/02/2013

Why does one make the abrupt career change from manager to freelancing translator, and why so late in life?

Today the post is about the road leading to the decision: to be brave enough to take the step out into the unknown, into the unknown.

 

My exboyfriend, who managed to make me pick a side, finally, couldn’t deal with my ”lax” attitude towards my professional life.

 

It was as early as 2005 when my current boyfriend constantly was nagging me about making a sensible decision what to do for the rest of my life. As by then I hadn’t a clue, but was fairly content with the work I had as an acting Assistant Shop Manager for Stena Line. In my ex’s opinion, however, being a temp for the rest of my life was not desirable. I had to take this seriously – my life and my career.

 

10 years as a temp and I still thought the freedom to leave whenever I wanted to, was the best part of my job.

 

So. I’d been working there for the last 10 years, and still only as a temp, but for me it was just perfect, since I enjoyed getting away, whenever I wanted for a few months every year. It was a win-win. I thought I had a pretty good life, apart from me not being too happy about my work, nor was I really satisfied with my situation. In my book all professions are sometimes boring, IMO the pros outweighed the cons.

 

I love to sit in front of the computer

 

I was extremely comfortable in front of the computer where I could manage a big part of my work, but some days it felt as if we were only one big information and complaint counter. Too often I had to ”deal” with unpleased customers, and the contact with the customers started to get more and more draining. People have a tendency to get very annoyed when going on a holiday. Especially when things don’t go as planned. Returning home from what should’ve been the highlight of the year, but instead turned out to be one big giant downpour from beginning to end with bad food and rotten hotels, one more tiny detail – like the chocolate bar you were planning on buying is sold out – can make you lose it. It’s more than understandable, that’s how all people work, even me. Despite trying to avoid it, sometimes the wrong people get in the way of my discontent.

 

To manipulate customers and get them on my side, was in the beginning just for kicks, but got more and more strenuous.

 

Having to ”handle” these kinds of people, to always with a smile turn the most unsatisfied customer into the most satisfied can sometimes be extremely hard. In the beginning I enjoyed it, saw it more like a challenge. I was watching Gabriella Wiberg (a colleague from the Lion times) with fascination, being both mean and pleasant at the same time with a smile on her lips, and I saw how confusing that was for the customers, how they somehow lost their thread. I decided to become such a master myself.

 

My role model could turn customers’ heads in an instant with unpleasant words wrapped in smiling flatter.

 

Some years later I was the manager, standing behind the information counter next to a colleague, explaining to a customer how and why everything got so messy from nothing. What I really was saying was that the customer was wrong and he should chill. After having seen the former rabid customer completely confused, smiling and agreeing with me as he walked away, another colleague of mine asked in total amazement how I could be so incredibly mean in such a pleasant way. Yes, I finally got it! When I after this one managed to turn every customer without breaking a sweat, it wasn’t as fun anymore.

 

Getting spat at several times a day isn’t such a blast, and after a period of daily verbal abuse you’ll notice if you’re really service minded or not.

 

I’m not anymore, and that’s why I’ve looked for something different. A profession which I today know suits my personality much better. My ex helped me to straighten out the situation, ie, he helped me figure out what I was good at (or rather, helped me to be brave enough to admit that I’m actually good at something), and what I enjoyed doing. There was really only one answer, and when I finally dared to admit it the answer was, as they say, crystal clear, and I wondered why I hadn’t realised it before.

    • I love languages, and it almost comes natural for me learning new ones, and developing a good flow in both speech and writing in those languages I already know.
    • I love to write. Ever since childhood I’ve had this dream about becoming a writer; a dream I’ve never before been brave enough to admit, yet alone follow through. Now it was time to be honest with myself, and now having started these blogs, I think the writer dream kind of outed itself.

 

Freelancing translator was a spot on profession for me!

 

It was a given for me that I would freelance; many people in this business do, and the positive side effect with this profession is being able to work independently and whenever it suits you. My ex didn’t like my career choice very much, of course (the extreme materialist as he was – is?), but he let me be, to start the long way in becoming a translator – a technical and specialist translator.
During the years since I made my decision I’ve only become more and more eager to make this work. It’s the right way to go, I realise that, but the road has been long (it’s still long), and there’s plenty of gravel when you don’t have any shoes.

 

Why is this my dream occupation?

 

As a freelancing translator or writer I can work from wherever corner in the world I choose. I don’t have to be in a specific location in Sweden. I love travelling and experiencing other cultures, which fits perfectly with my passion for languages, so having a profession where I’m being able to work as independently as possible, is simply too good to be true.
I also get to hammer along on my itsy bitsy computer, who happens to be my best friend and confidante, without being bothered by having to get to work. I get to write all day long, and that’s what really attracts me to this profession – the writing.

 

The dream is having a creative, independent profession.

 

I’ve long since wanted a profession where I could use my creativity in a completely different manner than to ”satisfy” (pardon the bad choice of words) displeased customers.

 

Why haven’t I finished the education I started in 2005?

 

The best paying jobs within translation, which was my MO during my life with my ex, are technical and specialised translations. I decided to study both English and Spanish in order to apply to University in Gothenburg. Then I’d have 2 languages instead of one and the programme was said to be the best in Sweden. Other similiar programmes only require 1 language, which I didn’t think was as good. At the time. I started studying and the English courses went great, both of them.

 

The Spanish course was one long pain.

 

I started studying Spanish part time during the same winter as I experienced my pain (from my Whiplash injury aquired in 2000) was accelerating in an enormously high speed. The feeling of hopelessness rose higher and higher and soon I was unable to find my way out.

 

The Spanish teacher dissed me totally and I lost the edge due to my already low state of mind.

 

When I simply said that I wanted to become a translator, my teacher started to squirm, and stated that being a translator was extremely difficult, not even ”we, the native speakers” can handle it. These words have been eating me from within for a long, long time, but it’s not until now I finally realise she probably was unhappy with her situation, and maybe she once wanted to become a translator herself. But at that moment, already in such a bad place, I simply just lost my edge and couldn’t even be bothered to fight for my goal. What’s the point? I wasn’t going to make it anyway.

 

Studying part time equals an enormous amount of homework; alone.

 

We had 1 lesson per week and while I often missed out, that meant I had to catch up on one whole week of work, and that’s an enormous amount to deal with by yourself. To study part time means you have to do a lot of homework, and I simply couldn’t deal with it. At that point. I’ve still not taken the missing points in my Spanish course, and I honestly don’t know if I’m ever going to.

 

On the intensive course in Granada I met Marie – an amazingly inspiring girl.

 

A couple of years later, and with a mended mind, I went to Spain on an intensive Spanish course for 6 weeks. This was in order to make it easier taking the points I still didn’t have. I was in the same class as an incredibly inspiring girl. She was American, although born and raised in France. She was now in Spain to study Spanish since she had been given a job offer as a French teacher. In Spain.

 

In her mind there wasn’t the slightest doubt that she would make it, she just packed her bags and head out to learn a new language.

 

She gave me an enormous amount of motivation.

 

Was it all forced upon me? Should I reconsider regarding the programme?

 

While in Granada I realised I didn’t want to study Spanish at all, but it rather felt more like it was forced upon me, since it was necessary for me to have 2 languages for the education I’d chosen. The pieces fell into place and my passion for the Japanese language and Japan burst into small explosions. Again. Earlier in my life I’ve also studied Japanese on University level. I bought Japanese language books in Spanish and everything I did while down there was somehow about Japan, or its culture or language. I decided to stop studying Spanish when I returned home and finally focus on that, which makes my heart beats faster. I simply had to reconsider and find another path.

 

Where am I 2013?

 

This is where I’m at, but now I have a plan which is completely and 100% mine. In my plan there is further studies in English, and also studies in my mother tongue – Swedish. I will start these studies in the fall of 2013. At the moment I’m studying Thai here in Thailand where I’m living with my fiancee, and that’s a language I want to commit to, since the long term plan is to permanently live here with him. Then I might also get a work permit and a possibillity to work as a Thai translator too.

 

The rug was swept from under me, I lost control, lost contact with the world.

 

I can go on and on, lining up synonym after synonym and parrallells and reasons to why I didn’t finish my education, but the simple truth is, in the break up between my ex and me, I totally lost my way, and I, stupidly, let it affect the rest my life. Now I’m finally back in the game, and I know what I want in life. It was long overdue, but big decisions aren’t something you should go easy with. Right? 😉
This post turned out rather personal – and long, but that’s who I am when I’m writing; the words just keep coming. You have to accept me as I am, or not at all.

See you later, mata ne!

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