Nine months after writing her top-shared story, Marie-Claire Cruz Schwarz talks about her further thoughts on stress, perfectionism, and passion. A must-read if you find yourself hesitating about your choice of profession (don’t be)!
Originally at The Open Mic
9 months earlier
I never thought of becoming a translator in my “first” life. Growing up in a little Swiss village was life enough to live, with its own child-view-problems and fun. It was vital to have time to play football with friends, to beat the fields or to range the woods we had next to our house or to run barefoot through the snow in winter. This is what I most miss in my present life, the quietness of the woods; the smell of humidity after raining and to collect nuts and berries as the season start. But this was long long time ago.
Switzerland is a wonderful country to grow up. The educational possibilities for kids are wide and languages are a highly important matter. I didn’t know that by then. I went to school and learned what every kid should learn: math, geography, physics, German, English, French (and Spanish at home), home economics and music; played basketball, volleyball, handball and participated in my athletic team. Besides I played clarinet in our town band and jazz music at our music school band. I never questioned anything. I just did as everyone did. Most afternoons I got home to lock myself in my room to read, Cleopatra (our cat) on my lap, to sleep and start the same schedule the next day. Looking back I always wonder how I could do so many things at once. But, it was great and we had lots of fun.
When I had to decide what kind of profession I wanted to learn I couldn’t say. I simply didn’t know. So I went to business school and finished with a diploma I didn’t know exactly what to do with. Now I know.
Throughout our lives we take lots of decisions, which takes us through plain or winding paths. One of these decisions brought me where I live now since 30 years. To marry and have kids was the consequence of having fallen in love to the man who is by my side since then. Years of helping grow up, organize a household and exercise to be the best mom and spouse started.
And you will ask yourself, what does this things have to do with translation? I didn’t know either until now, but it has to do with it. Pretty much. Because, without noticing it, I was preparing my whole life to become a translator. When I realised that, and after the first fright, I couldn’t do anything but register at university to become a formal one. It was a hard time, as I had to study and work at the same time. But it was also wonderful to fit in those old shoes you knew were there but you couldn’t find till now and it was wonderful to know I had a supportive fan club at home.
Yes. A new stage of life has begun and I’m looking forward to it with open mind and thankfulness. We all have our place in this world and we all have a mission in it. In my case, I’ve finally found my place and now I know that there ain’t no mountain high enough, whatever your age or condition could be. There is always a way to make your dreams come true.
So what kind of people are translators? Nothing easier than that, isn’t it? Translators are people like you and me. No more. No less. Wonderful and daring superheroes with the best mission ever: to make understandable the cultures they are immersed as they seamlessly communicate across language barriers to connect people all over the world. So, keep in mind that translators keep planes in the air; translators bring medicines to market and safe lives; translators protect rights in translation; translators keep the peace in translation and connect the world and advancing technology. Yes, you are right. Because of translators, the world communicates.
Especially for the Smartcat Blog
Nine month have gone by since I wrote this post and I still am enjoying my climbing to the mountain top. I learned a lot as time runs fast. Yes, I know, nobody said the road to go would be easy: I felt many times and got up again, and I got sick due of the stress I had looking for clients and trying to built my business apart from working shifts of 42 hours/week. The “illness” I suffered is well known in our century: we want it all and we want it fast. So I loved Dmitry’s July post on stress, a good description of how things become when you stress too much, and the article went to be my food for thoughts of the last days. It’s not a matter of zodiac sign, Dmitry, I’m not a Gemini, but feel the same as you do.
Nothing is more comfortable as to rest on your couch reading a good book or share quality time with your family. Isn’t it? Yes, for sure! But we forget this one and then. Everyone has his way of disconnecting stress, mine is to get sick, as I refuse to believe that I’m stressed. So the body reacts and forces you to act healthier. You know what I mean? Sure! Translators are heroes AND humans. ☺
In this time I learned, that to be perfectionist is an illness if you don’t know how to handle with. I finished my bachelor final essay and extended it to a book all this month along. Now the book is waiting to be published one day. I translated an (for me) important and shocking book, on the Holocaust and the horror experienced by million people went after me in my dreams. It was a profoundly learning experience and I am happy to have finished it, and to have contributed so that this genocide remains not forgotten. I know there are a lot more of genocides in our World, but I can’t handle with all of them, as I too, have my limits. Some biographic, touristic texts and articles were translated and an essay translation on ancient Egypt (our ancestors) is on its way.
So, what I learned this months is, that also heroes have to take things easier (that doesn’t mean less serious) and watch their health. That live is like a puzzle that meets his matching pieces little by little and on time (patience is something I’m still learning). That we need to enjoy more, while we climb the top of the mountain (enjoy what surrounds you). And that the option to throw in the towel is not feasible due of the passion we feel for our profession. My passion project or program is created now day by day so I can take action on it step by step.
The only thing set in stone is to translate every day (that’s my drug). The program slowed down a bit, not because inability, but to enjoy better the road. It is a creative side deal connected to the deeper meaning, a springboard for something greater. Anyone can do it, and you only need some inspiration and commitment. Perhaps it would take me more time as I planned. Following your passion can seem scary and confusing, but it’s totally possible.
And we are not alone. There is almost one million translators in the world, and even if we don’t know each other, we are there, and we are an amazing community that, almost literally, makes the world go round.
Isn’t that great?