Who are you letting down?

by Gigi Griffis

It was early June and I was struggling to focus. 

Work was taking longer than usual. My motivation was sunk. And fatigue nudged at me day by day.

I had already cut back on my workload to try and rest my body and mind after an intense winter, keeping only two clients in addition to my novel writing. But even that low work commitment was hard to keep up. Especially because Portugal just wouldn’t quit loading me up with admin tasks. Issues with my electric company. Water company setup. Customs fees I couldn’t figure out how to pay. I spent whole days on admin I hadn’t realized I’d signed up for. Things that utterly zapped my energy and sometimes left me in tears of frustration.

And so I found myself chatting with my bestie one day and saying that I wanted to take a whole quarter off from client work. To rest. To spend more time on my Portuguese language learning. To work on creative projects. And to travel.



“If I take the whole quarter off, I feel like I’m letting my clients down,” I explained. After all, I’d just taken a quarter off as far as they knew. Sure, I was working impossibly long hours on a secret project (more on that coming soon). But I was just absent from their projects for three months. And now I would be absent again. 

As usual, David was there to knock me upside the head with some truth. “Well, you’re letting me down if you don’t take care of yourself.”

Well, shit.

That certainly reframed things.

Because David is (as usual) right. My health and mental health are more important than this nebulous idea of letting clients down. Capitalism will be fine without me. And I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can take three months away from that work. 

And wasn’t this the point of working hard and saving to get to this point? To be able to prioritize me?

I talked to my new friend Ines a few days later and she reminded me that the reframing was really about whether I was willing to let myself down. 

And no. The answer is no.

If I needed another sign, the universe had one ready. I had a chat with my biggest client and they are doing some restructuring and planning next quarter anyway. They don’t really need me until October. 

So here I go into a quarter of creative time, language, and rest. And in case you also needed a bestie to chime in on a choice you’re struggling to make, allow me to play that role now: who are you willing to let down? Who are you not willing to let down? 

I hope the answer to the latter is yourself. 

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Valeria July 4, 2022 - 10:56 am

I love this post. Thank you for the self care reminder. It is a constant challenge and negotiation for a great any of us.. usually sensitives. So kudos for sharing this in real time and a true independence day post.

Emily Peppers July 5, 2022 - 1:32 pm

Great reminder. I am currently taking 7 weeks off to spend time with my family – my first time missing work in 10 years. I have been amazed at how smoothly my business can run without me there (much gratitude to my outstanding business partner and my staff). It’s both reassuring and humbling to find out that the world doesn’t stop spinning when we step away from work for a little bit. :)

brianna July 5, 2022 - 1:53 pm

I love this–fighting the priority structure of capitalism (and religion) is especially hard for women. I’m taking inspiration from your decision and this re-framing: “Wasn’t this the point of working hard and saving to get to this point? To be able to prioritize me?”

You have one life on this earth. Living it by prioritizing self-care means you can contribute from an ever-growing strength rather than from an ever-diminishing capacity. Hope you find fullness in the break.


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