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WHAT WILL YOU HAVE?
4:15
 

WHAT WILL YOU HAVE?

a view from the booth musings

The New Year ushered in catch-up-with-a-colleague season – and I couldn’t be happier to have enjoyed it in person this time!

Twice a year, we interpreters get some (forced) time off: in August, when most government offices close for their summer break and workers go on holiday; and in January, when the world is recovering from eating, drinking, and dancing the previous year away.

For a few rare weeks, there are no emails coming in, no assignments to prepare, no devices to charge, and no schedules to juggle.

In August, we run free. With the warm sun tickling our skins and the promise of summer fun and adventures filling our hearts, we cannot wait to give our brains a break and enjoy some quality time with our loved ones.

Out with the headsets and mute buttons and in with the flip-flops and picnic blankets. In the blink of an eye, there is not a single interpreter in sight for miles on end.

But January is another story. The days are short and the evenings dark. It’s cold and quiet. And, for people used to the adrenalin rush that is interpreting, the hours quickly start to drag on.

By Twelfth Night, we are fully rested and start tapping our fingers anxiously. Still, there are a few more days to go before the bell rings and we get to step back into the ring, eager to take over the world.

So, what do we do while we wait? We catch up with one another.

And so it begins, the annual ritual of meeting colleagues for coffee or a walk in the park; of signing up together for a webinar or a short course; of lending books to one another; of talking at length about our expectations for the New Year and the goals we wish to achieve.

It is a time to connect, to share, to bond. It is also a time to catch up with ourselves – to respond to life and the world around us instead of simply reacting to it.

It is a time to journal, to clear our inboxes, to tidy our files. A quiet moment to reflect and plan.

It is a time to dream.

And we need it. All of it. The connection, the planning, the dreaming, the bonding.

Left alone with the voices in our heads (I know you hear them too, so don’t play innocent on me!), a quiet inbox can quickly turn into our worst fear of never having any work coming in ever again.

Left to our devices, we are in danger of playing down our skills and ambitions and ending up settling for less than we deserve.

The truth is we need each other – outside the booth as much as in it.

We need the encouragement, and the buddy system of facing the same unfounded fears and helping each other through them.

We need the camaraderie of reminiscing about past assignments and faux pas and tech glitches and delayed flights.

We need the shared interest in all things language that border on insanity and that the 'normal' people in our lives usually fail to nurture and understand.

We need the innocent gossip that turns single individuals into a community.

We need to know we are not alone, especially after almost two years of working from home, away from the busting and contagious energy of live, face-to-face events.

No wonder, then, that this time around I could not wait for January to begin and finally start filling my unusually slow-paced calendar with friendly faces and kindred spirits.

Out and about in open markets, art fairs, parks, beer gardens, squares, and outdoor cafés, I feel whole again.

I belong.

So, come join me. What will you have?


This article was originally published in the February 2022 Newsletter of the ITI London Regional Group

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