If a translator works within an agency, he or she is somewhat secured. Security comes in the form of working for somebody who pays for your work without delay and brings you clients who you can work for, although not directly. You maybe do not wish to be in direct relation to the client as your main goal and responsibility is to deliver and keep up the good work. You are not prone to drawing comparisons with other translators- you maybe never get to that point where you have to wonder how your colleagues succeed compared to you. The agency is a mighty shield, a solid front, but still, you must satisfy the requirements, work in line with given recommendation, adhere to rules, all coming from the agency. When that shield is taken away, when you lose that protective layer, then everything becomes a hazzard. Iceskating on a lake with patches of water eating away the ice and gradually threatening to expand. You’ re constantly manouevering into safe havens you think you can only benefit from, but you can never sit there safe enough.
There’s the constant fear of being overtaken. You are not driving that quick not to see another translator in the rearview mirror. You know you both have the same language combination, you are aware of the path you have taken to enter into this business. Someone made the decision earlier, someone had to take a longer break and was more cautious- in the end, you are competing each other, aiming maybe for the same type of clients. If you decline, the other translator will get the job. If you don’t do it properly, you will be closing the doors to a client at your own fault.
So, it really is a rat race. Aganst time, which you have less and less and against colleagues, no matter how friendly you view them. I tend to be amiable and forthcoming, but that must not be the case with every translator.