Yesterday, I received my first rejection.
Now, as you may remember, I have previously lamented the fact that the majority of my application emails have gone unanswered. I naively thought that there was nothing worse than the anguish of not knowing whether or not my application had been accepted, of not knowing whether I was saying the right things or quoting the right prices. Turns out I was wrong. Actually, my fragile ego is much happier believing that one day my acceptance email will come.
Having never been a massive fan of rejection (who is, right?) I will generally go out of my way to avoid it. With that in mind, the agencies I have applied to so far have been the bigger ones that I have heard of, or ones where I know people who work there. Basically, I tried to play it safe. I applied to this particular agency safe in the knowledge that they provide a steady supply of work to many of my former colleagues. I was reassured by the fact that I know not one, but two project managers who work there. So yesterday, when I received an email informing me that ‘they were not looking for translators with my profile’, I will admit to being a little crushed.
With my beloved Mr H working away in London and unavailable for rejection crisis talks, I took to the Internet to make sure that I was not the first freelance translator that this had happened to. I am sure you will not be surprised to learn that I was not. I really was comforted by the number of blog posts that addressed rejection specifically within the freelance translation community, and the overriding message of all of them was the same: don’t take it personally. Now, sensitive creative souls that we are, I think that this is an easy thing to say (and honestly mean!) to other people, but a difficult thing to take on board ourselves.
Last weekend, I went to visit my best friend. A psychologist by trade, weekends with her tend to involve food, wine and free therapy. I come away with my troubles eased, if not ever so slightly hungover. On this visit, I told her I was struggling with the lack of control I had over the freelancing situation. I didn’t know when the next job was coming in, or which agencies were going to sign me up, or whether I would even be successful. This then spiralled into worrying about the lack of control I had over other things: when we’d finally be able to afford to get the car fixed, when the DVLA would return my updated driving licence and our marriage certificate, when Mr H’s bank would finally authorise the payment he has tried to make to me six times so I can pay my credit card (and tax the car that won’t start). Dr Beth poured me a glass of wine and said, sounding exactly like a psychologist, “without wanting to sound like a psychologist, you may not be able to control those things, but you can control how you feel about them”.
I realised then that I could take back the power. I couldn’t force this agency to want me on their books, but I could deal with the rejection in a professional and positive way. So I emailed them back and thanked them for at least taking the time to let me know. I then decided to change my approach towards applying to agencies. Rather than following the masses to the biggest agencies, I would actually back myself and seek out the ones that specialise in my languages and skills. Translation is my passion. I want this more than anything, and in order to get it, I’m going to have to put myself out there. And by putting myself out there, I am putting myself in the path of rejection.
So I’m going in. Cross your fingers for me, I’ll keep you posted.