real life

'How falling in love ruined my career.'

I can’t hold onto a long-term relationship.

Guys lose patience. I lose their interest.

I can’t help it if I work at a startup where it might take 8 hours until I respond back to their text. Nor can I promise my weekends to them. Work is just too important to me.

Sure, I can split 50–50 between a relationship and work (as many of you would suggest), but I’d only be half-assing at both. At this point, I can only choose one.

A conversation from seven years ago, when I was still with my ex:

“Tiffany, I want you to be serious with me for the next 10 minutes. I tried applying for a crap-ton of jobs, and let’s just say things aren’t going the way I expected. You know my dad in China? He told me there’s a diamond store I can run and that I can be part of his team for his real estate projects. I know China might not be the place for you, but the best opportunities are there right now.

“…Tiffany, I love you — inside and out. But I want you to have a choice. You can either come with me to China and we can be together. Or you can stay here with your mum and dad, find a job, and grow your career. It’d make me super happy if you chose to be with me, but I will also be happy for you if you decide to make your life here. But know that if you choose to stay, I can’t promise that we’ll still be together. Long distance is tough — your day is my night, my day is your night.

“So how about this? Think about what I said, talk to your mum and dad. Then tell me what you want to do.”

I was completely split between these two decisions.

Do I want to give up this 3+ year relationship I had going for a stable life? Or should I follow my heart and hope my future would be better off than what I have now?

With that, I chose love.

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China wasn’t my ideal place to live in

Imagine for a second that it’s the 1950s, and you’re walking down the streets of New York City. You’ve got air pollution clouding the 30th floor of skyscrapers. People fighting to get onboard a jam-packed bus. Cars honking every five seconds.

Yup. China was my home for two good years.

But even with these shabby conditions, I continued to pursue my passion for cooking, kept fit and healthy, taught English at the most reputable school in the city, made new friends, learned Chinese off the streets. Out of all of them though, I made sure my ex was well-taken care of. After all, he was my world.

Days slid by slowly. And while that allowed me to enjoy the simplest things in life, it also intensified the stress I had to deal with on an hourly basis. At any moment, our power could go out. Or out of the random, my ex would call me to pick him up, because he got too wasted from “ganbei-ing” with government officials and high profile businessmen.

Listen to Jessie Stephens share her relationship theory with the Mamamia Out Loud team. Post continues after. 


I knew life was already stressful for him as it was for me, so I didn’t complain. Instead, I soaked in all his problems and pampered him with love. I thought if I could relieve his stress by giving him 120 per cent of my support, he’d work harder and get more golden opportunities. And if he made it big, he promised we’d come back to the U.S. and live the American Dream — a nice home with a white picket fence, preferably somewhere in Beverley Hills.

But weeks passed by, and my dream of “us” together started falling apart. He became less appreciative, less forgiving to mistakes I’ve done, and more impatient. Maybe it’s because of China and the stress he has to put up with, I thought. But it wasn’t China — it was me.

While he gained more connections and slowly built his career, I remained stuck living my life for him. Cooking. Cleaning. Powdering my face. Dressing pretty. I became nothing more than just the ‘housewife.’

“Don’t worry, you’ll never have to work if you’re with me. I’ll take care of the both of us,” he would say.

If only I knew what was to come, I might’ve already left him and gotten a head start on my career. Because one day out of the blue, he told me we should start seeing other people.

“Tiffany, how would we know if we’re the ‘one’ for each other if we’ve never given other people a chance? We should try dating — give it a year or so. If we both don’t find anyone who’s better, we’ll be back together, which most likely will be the case anyways. But if we do find someone better, then we should be happy for each other. Right?

“I only want the best for you as you would want for me. Don’t you love me? And since we’re still in our 20s, this is the perfect test to see if we’re truly meant to be.”

My heart broke. And so did my life. Because before I knew it, he stopped talking to me. Completely. I was no longer part of his world.


You lose yourself trying to hold onto someone who doesn’t care about losing you.

As much as I like to reminisce the sweet times we had together, I forced myself to let go. There’s just no point hanging on to someone who no longer cares about you.

So, I moved on.

Back to Square One

Life sucks — especially when you’re 25, single, have an empty resume, and see all your friends already stabilised with their career, or even married. I knew I had to catch up, FAST. With that, I dropped my skimpy resume on every recruitment site to apply for a cook, server, grocery clerk, property assistant, recruiter. Any job was fine, as long as I could gain experience.

It wasn’t long until I worked my way up, starting from a part-time server to a recruiter. My life was pretty stable, given the decent salary and generous benefits at my 9–5 job: free company laptop, covered health insurance, free lunch catering on Fridays, etc. But down the road, I realised monetary perks alone didn’t satisfy me. What I craved after so many years of a mediocre, every-day lifestyle was the opportunity to do more. To learn and build a full armoury of valuable life skills. To further myself the way I never had a chance to.

Unfortunately, my staffing company didn’t have many opportunities. It was difficult to advance up the ladder. They only wanted us to perfect one skill, which was to recruit, using old school techniques and resources. If we didn’t meet our quota, we would get scorned at.

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Did I want to spend the rest of my life recruiting? Was it worth investing all of my energy to building a career I was not passionate about and saw no future in? Would I be proud of where I was five years from now?

No. I could do better.

If you’ve been exposed to startups long enough, you’d know what those terms mean. That’s what startups do to succeed. And that’s what I needed to do.

I left the staffing company and decided to join a startup.


I knew the second I joined Rabbut, it would change my whole life — the way I worked, the way I thought about business, the way I managed relationships, the way I lived each day. I was ready to build a new me.

No longer would I be the same Tiffany seven years back. Time is limited, and there’s only so much you can do before you’re living on your wheelchair. To tell you I’ve already wasted nine-and-a-half years sacrificing for someone who no longer bothers to say hi or even knows what I’m doing… is sad. So because of that, work becomes my first priority.

Instead of spending all my weekends watching movies or hanging out with friends like most people do, I research ways to write better and build connections with bloggers like myself. I knew if I kept this up, I’d be one step closer to what I wanted to achieve. That is — creating a product people will love that will completely change the way they blog. That, my friends, is Rabbut.

As someone who’s invested more time in a relationship than my entire career, I’ve learned this one thing: your time is just as important as anyone else’s. Don’t live for somebody if you can’t even live your own. Because ultimately, only you can decide where you want your life to be.

For me, between love and work? You know the answer.


What direction would you take if you had to pick — your relationship or your work?

This piece originally appeared on Tiffany’s blog, Miss Tiffany Sun. For more from Tiffany, you can find her on Instagram here, YouTube here and Facebook here.