This morning I’ve read a beautiful story on Medium. It was about a girl named Tiffany who got really disappointed with her boyfriend and got rid of him when he called her “useless”. What a terrible word to throw at someone you love!
Unless that person was useless.
In that case it is absolutely awful to call a person “useless” after 7 years of relationship. A terrible, terrible thing to do! And I’m not being sarcastic here, this is wrong!
The right thing to do was to tell her that she was useless 7 years ago.
The reason people are useless is that nobody tells them that they are. Instead, they get “nice try” every time, until the day comes when they believe that good intentions and accomplishment are one and the same thing.
Now it might be too late for poor Tifanny. She is used to thinking that she is a person who deserves being appreciated for all her… whatever. And why? Because the whatever she does is a really nice try! And all those nice tries give her certain rights. Like the right to be given things: a house, a job, money, education, respect and lots of attention. All that because of the whatever she does in the nice try way.
In other words, Tiffany is a child.
Now I haven’t lived with Tiffany, so I don’t really know her. But here are some facts from the story:
- Tiffany and her boyfriend (of Chinese origins, I think), have been together for 7 years.
- Tiffany went to a college. I wonder how she paid for it.
- Her boyfriend went to live in China, because he was ambitious and wanted to run a business and be self-reliant. She came along to do her usual whatever.
- After 7 years spent with a guy who speaks Chinese, after the opportunity to learn the language in college, and after spending 5 months in China, she cannot speak Chinese enough to have a casual conversation. Now if that does not bring the word “useless” to mind, I don’t know what does.
- Tiffany has lived in the most advanced, richest country in the world. She acquired a high level of formal education. Still, setting a WiFi router (my 12 year old nephew could do that easily enough) is too hard. Now that makes you think.
- The things she did for her ungrateful boyfriend included: bringing him water, giving him (not necessarily: cooking for him) a special meal once a week, finding a doctor (was he lost?) and “giving him 120% to make him happy”. Whatever that means. Apparently 120% wasn’t much for the guy. What a bastard.
- Their apartment in China was bought by her ungrateful boyfriend’s dad. I don’t know who supported the couple, but I’m pretty sure it was either the ungrateful boyfriend or the ungrateful boyfriend’s dad. How ungrateful for all those waters she brought.
- Tiffany is no longer with her boyfriend, who thought she had been useless. To prove him wrong, Tiffany moved to her parents’ place and lives off their support. She moved there for a good reason: she wanted to “start her life over”, which is reasonable after so many things she already acomplished in her life. What she does now is “discovering who she really is”.
But hang on, didn’t her boyfriend tell her already who she really was? I guess she didn’t like the answer. I can understand that. Let’s be fair: nobody would.
In all honesty, it’s possible that Tiffany is a really nice person. It’s very likely, in fact. She might be very sweet, charming and caring. She may have beautiful hair. I’m almost sure she has a great smile. And I bet a $100 she smells nice too.
But at the same time she might be utterly useless. Lots of nice people are useless. No skills, no diligence, no resourcefulness. Still, nice people and a good company.
Now all the people who commented on a story, must have felt the injustice that was done to Tiffany. It’s good. Empathy is commendable trait. And we can all agree that you should never have to suffer the pain of hearing “you are useless” from a person you trust the most. It hurts badly.
I see two ways of dealing with those words.
Tiffany’s way: get rid of a person who tells you that you’re useless, and convince yourself you deserve better.
Or my way, which recommend with all my heart. It is very simple: don’t be useless!
Deal with your life problems. Prepare for them. Do not depend on your parents, husbands, wives, churches and governments. Be ready for anything, this is not a paradise we live in.
Learn few languages. Don’t just get a certificate, anyone can do it. What you really need is the ability to actually talk to people in another language. And for goodness sake, find out how to set your WiFi or your monitor or a mail account. And without an instruction too. It’s way simpler than driving a car.
Plan things in advance. Don’t assume everything you do will succeed. Adjust to reality and change your plans. Get some real skills instead of paying for useless college to have a useless diploma. Seriously, nobody is impressed anymore.
Stop living with your parents and stop accepting their support. They express their love by giving it, you should express yours by not accepting. Accepting gifts and accepting support are two different things. If you don’t want to be useless, you have to strive for being self-reliant.
And when you have done that, you won’t care when somebody throws a word “useless” at you. It won’t hurt at all. It will make you laugh.
But if you really are useless, it will hurt like hell.
Tiffany, (and all of Tiffanies out there), if you’ve spent 7 years with a guy from China, and then took few Chinese classes in college, and then lived 5 months in China, and still cannot have a casual conversation, then face it: you are useless.
Does it hurt? Good. It should. Because you’ve been lazy. You’ve been careless. And you have wasted enormous amounts of time and opportunity. Accept that and start the change.
Because if you don’t want to be useless, you need to earn that. Start working right now and don’t expect results any time soon.
So what to do if your girlfriend is Tiffany?
If you care, tell her the truth. And if you don’t, tell her the truth and run away.
The question is: how. You want her to listen, not to be hurt. Although crying is inevitable at this point. She is spoiled and there is no nice way to say it to someone. No matter what words you use, it will always hurt.
But that your task, if you care. Make your Tiffany realize who she really is so she can initiate the change of attitude. From pride to humility, from being self-centered to being grateful. From life of consumption to life of work.
Frankly, I don’t know if that’s even possible. But if you think that giving her support for every failure is a better way, then imagine your life in 7 years.
That should scare you enough to start dealing with a problem the only way I know of that works: honesty.
And if you really think that giving even more free stuff to a spoiled person will change a Tiffany into a Mother Theresa, then go ahead. By all means, it’s your life, it’s your story.
But we’d all be really interested to hear how that story ends.