When Authentic Isn’t Good Enough

One of the secrets to my freelance career is that I do a number of related services, and the relationships often lead to new clients in one area because they worked with me in another. For example, a training client might become a coaching client. A coaching client might take a journaling class.

Jigsawing related services often means the difference between freelance survival or failure. And in today’s economy, failure is not something I care to contemplate.

Jessica Hagy: thisisindexed.com/2009/02/fate-decisions/

Jessica Hagy: thisisindexed.com/2009/02/fate-decisions/

I never hide my various lines of business, but occasionally a client doesn’t understand how I can be more than one thing. Most often, the way it leads to trouble is that a client sees me as a writer and doesn’t understand how come I can’t spend more time writing. If they don’t understand that I am running a training program, they may become resentful when I ask for a longer deadline.

“How long does it take you to write that, anyway?”

“I have other work that is on my plate. I can have it by Friday, but not Wednesday.”

“If you really wanted the job, you’d meet my deadline.”

“I do want the job, but I can’t accept it if the deadline is Wednesday because I can’t deliver it on Wednesday. Much as I’d like to help you, I can’t accept a job knowing I can’t meet the deadline.”

“Then you really don’t want the job, do you. Anyone could finish it by Wednesday.”

And so, because the client doesn’t understand that I’ll be running a training program, and doesn’t care (and I can’t expect them to) I lost the job.

It’s a bit harder when it come to friendships. I’ve long suspected that my workaholic tendencies make friendships difficult. And when your work supplies necessities, the work needs to come first. I try to keep the bonds of friendship alive and working, but there are days when I simply can’t meet a friend across the Valley for lunch, can’t chat with a friend for an hour, can’t read and answer a complicated email. And today it cost me a friend.

When your authentic dedication to supporting your family doesn’t leave room for friends, do you give them up? Do you let your family slide? Do you shortchange a client’s job? Today’s choice was not easy. I apologized and it wasn’t enough. My comfort was that I made the choice that hurt, but it was the choice I could understand. Sometimes being authentic isn’t enough. But it’s all I have.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, life– and creativity coach. She’s also a trainer in business communications and helps people who can’t draw keep art journals.

12 thoughts on “When Authentic Isn’t Good Enough

  1. Quinn, maybe your way of life is also too different from your friends way of life?
    You are still very busy, still growing a lot personally.

    • That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that Marianne, but you are right. She met me in one time of my life, and then there was a big shift, and our ways of life became very different. Thanks for mentioning it, I hadn’t thought of that before. Very wise!

    • You are right, I do have to make a living. And how much time that takes is up to me to decide. I also know I have a tendency to workaholism, and because I own my business, it doesn’t feel like “work.” It feels like experimentation. And the people who want to hang out with me, will like me better if I am fully present and not distracted. I love your first line. It says it all.

  2. Real friends understand you have a life, allow you to live it, and do not judge you for it.

    This was not a real friend. Losing them is hard, I know — I’ve lost several and once went through a major manic episode because of it one time. But you’re far better off knowing this was not someone you could rely on to stick by you.

    Don’t worry about it.

    • Thanks for the support. I need it! Being a friend is not easy, but I’d like to think I’m flexible with my friends–telling them when I can’t as well as pitching in when I can. But you’re right–it’s hard. I hate not having this person in my life.

  3. If she knows you even fairly well, she knows you are highly committed to your work, and that if you don’t put in the hours, you can’t pay your mortgage. Knowing that would make most people give you a lot of leeway in a friendship. But maybe she needed more, and it just wasn’t working for her. Sorry it made you feel bad though. No one likes to upset or lose a friend.

  4. Pingback: More on “Authentic” Behavior « QuinnCreative

  5. I believe that true friends do their best to understand….even in difficult circumstances. Everyone has their own set of problems, some big, some little but the bottom line is our problems are OUR problems. They are big to us, they are stressful and can consume us. Yes, we know others are going through trying times and may be dealing with much worse circumstances but it still does not take away our troubles. Friends should understand, otherwise they are just self-consumed and possibly playing the victim role.

    Just my two cents. Sorry you’ve had to deal with yet another difficult situation on top of what is already on your plate.

  6. It is Obviousman’s day off, so I’m filling in for him…

    If they don’t understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and that you have obligations that sometimes must take a higher priority than going out to lunch, then you don’t need them as friends. I’ve found that my “friends” who don’t have the same challenges as I do (e.g., the independently wealthy ones who don’t have to earn a living) can be very impatient when asked to reschedule our get-togethers. I don’t usually bother to reschedule when confronted with that attitude.

    • This woman has her own load of problems, and one of the thoughts that passed through my mind is that everyone has an idea of what “overload” is. Trouble is, not everyone can appreciate the other person’s limit for overload. My problems may look trivial to her, because she has a different set of values and worries. But I also have to admit that I’m not a “call you every day” kind of person. And I won’t ever be. It’s just not in me.
      Thanks for filling in for “Obviousman” today. He’s a favorite of mine.

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