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Should Young People Live Independently or Not?

Popularity 10Viewed 6817 times 2016-2-14 08:52 |Personal category:What's going on|System category:Life| colleagues, receiving, question, friends, decided

“Chen Ning, I have a question to ask you.” One of my colleagues talked to me seriously while we took a walk after lunch one day.

“Oh, what is it?” I was surprised and curious.

“You know I’ve been receiving dental treatment continuously for more than a year, and that has cost me a lot of money. Right now I’ve ran out all my savings. I could have taken some money from my parents, but since I have graduated for three years, I decided to borrow money from my friends and colleagues rather than putting any burden on my family. Do you think that sounds stupid?”

“Of course not. You’ve done a right thing! And you’ll always have my backing financially and spiritually.”

“Then it’s good. I’ve been thinking about this for quite a long time.” And she looked quite relieved.

I was glad that she had this kind of idea and I was also happy she turned to me and I could help. The post-80s and 90s generations have grown up and gradually entered society to earn their living. But unlike the generations of our parents, who fought hard and won almost everything by their own efforts, the vast majority of our generation always complain. They complained they couldn’t afford a house in the city because the price was too high and their parents not wealthy enough; and when they managed to buy a house finally, they complained it was not big enough and they had to pay a monthly mortgage because their parents were not billionaires or high-ranking officials. It never occurred to them that as they were adults, their parents owed them nothing and had no responsibility to maintain an ideal living for them. If you want nice things, why don’t you try to earn it by yourself?

And this reminded me of chatting with a 26-year-old Chinese man graduated from Adelaide University last October. He had graduated for almost a year, but as it was quite hard for a Chinese majoring in Engineering to find a decent job in Adelaide, a little cozy city renowned for art and wine, he just took random volunteer jobs once in a while. We were about to show our empathy before we were told that he rented a whole flat, which he sublet to another Chinese student, drove a fancy Audi, and never cooked at home! And when we kindly suggested he sought jobs in Melbourne and Sydney where there would be more opportunities and much higher daily expenses of course, he rejected it, as “it would be impossible to maintain his current living quality.” But how could one talk about the quality of life when he couldn’t even earn himself a living and make himself financially independent first? 

I know he is not alone and is quite typical of the single child in China. As the centre of the whole family ever since they were born, they take it for granted that all the wealth of their parents represent theirs and thus take it naturally from them no matter how old they are. I’ve been avoiding talking with anyone who boasted of their fancy cars or grand apartments, when they themselves only earn a barely 2000 yuan monthly income and have to depend on their parents on daily sustenance. To them, personal striving and feeling grateful are the least thing to think about.

But amid this prevalence of vanity, there are always good examples to reinforce your belief. One of my classmates in high school bought a small house in the suburb of Beijing three years ago, using up the savings of her and her husband, while not taking one penny from their parents, who lived in the countryside of Shandong. On the contrary, they got to support not only their parents, but their brothers, aunts and uncles from time to time. They were both at the beginning stage of their career and were not earning much, but they were determined to provide a better life for their family at any cost. I always spoke highly of her, saying that just by this she had stood superior to most of our peers and had shown the quintessence of independent living.

As for me, my parents have been the best models ever since I was a little girl. Twenty-nine years ago, we were sharing a small single-storey house with another family, as my parents had to send the bulk of their salary to my grandparents while keeping only a small amount to cover the daily expenses of our family. It was when I started to go to primary school that we had a house of our own. My grandfather has been receiving medical treatment since then, but I never saw once they hesitated in taking out their savings, no matter how hard our life was. They started from grassroots, and have earned whatever they have now all by themselves. I’m proud of them.

And they influenced me to no small extent. I began to take a few random part-time jobs such as shop assistant and tutor since college and my annual scholarship were spent on the gifts of my parents and grandparents. During my postgraduate study, I began to do more part-time jobs and internships, which enabled me to become financially independent since then. For me, it not only meant more material things for my beloved ones, but value and worth, of an independent being.

Life is all about making choices. We could always choose to rely on our parents and make it easy. But since life is only once, why don’t we choose to fight it our own way and see how the journey will be like? Perhaps it may not be smooth, and sometimes it could really be discouraging and devastating, but one thing for sure is that it will be so worth living. Wish every young person have the courage and determination to embark on that journey and enjoy the views along the way.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (19 comments)

Reply Report mbursian 2016-2-14 18:17
Bravo! Well written and well stated.  You are so right about achieving independence.  It is an important and vital step in a young person's life to be independent and self-reliant.  I see all too often grandparents and parents enabling their child to be dependent; they are not doing their child any favor making them feel entitled.  I see a lot of young people who have no sense of responsibility for themselves or others.  My parents instilled in me at an early age the value of a hard work ethic, you desire things in life, you work for it and earn it.
Reply Report parcher 2016-2-14 18:32
kind of shows you how much china has changed. I hate listening to youths complaining about their lives, especially when they are so better off than most..
I have a Chinese friend who regulary asks me for money, but when I refuse he always says we are friends and friends are supposed to help. that's funny because I have spent thousands paying for dinners/ clubs over the years but not once has he said thank you. He earns 10k a month, but just like your friend in Australia, he is always complaining, expecting others to finance a better life for him.
Maybe if the parents stopped spoiling them when they are young, they will accept if you want a better life, you have to make an effort yourself instead of looking to others to help...
Reply Report seneca 2016-2-15 07:05
The infamous inter-generational conflict, apparently. It has existed or centuries and is only getting worse. But what struck me as odd in your reflections was the stubborn persistence of financial problems following you everywhere in your social life. Is this the characteristic of Chinese personal chemistry? Between parents and their children, a major topic seems to be money; between future spouses the first consideration is money; between friends money is vitally important. Growing up and becoming adult should be a lot about other things as well, such as widening one's horizon, expanding one's mind developing curiosity and various interests. Coming of age and becoming independent is not just about having independent incomes; it also is about being mature.
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-15 09:00
mbursian: Bravo! Well written and well stated.  You are so right about achieving independence.  It is an important and vital step in a young person's life to be ...
Thank you! I always believe one should match his ambition with his capacities, that is, if he couldn't achieve the things he desires, then he should try to update himself or just lower his expectations. By the way, nice to know you, Mark.
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-15 09:08
parcher: kind of shows you how much china has changed. I hate listening to youths complaining about their lives, especially when they are so better off than mo ...
How would you stay being friend with him for such a long time?
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-15 09:22 (Pending for approval)
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Reply Report parcher 2016-2-15 10:09
宁檬: How would you stay being friend with him for such a long time?
because he is a collegue, but i have stopped taking people out for meals now...
i learned my lesson
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2016-2-15 11:29
“I decided to borrow money from my friends and colleagues rather than putting any burden on my family.”

I do hope your friend knows what he is doing. no matter who you borrow from, it is his obligation to pay back. i am so tired with those so called friends who borrowed from me, and pull my phone number into their blacklist.

right thing is not to live beyond his means.
Reply Report Echo/hanhan 2016-2-15 19:57
Thank you,柠檬. I have read your article and feel a lot about our young men's responsibility in today's world. I agree with you, and I havebeen thinking the same way you suggest when making a living after graduation.
I think it is proud and happy to make a living yourself, even support your family with your efforts, though it is not easy. I really appreciate your writing style and your thoughts, learn from you
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-16 08:59
parcher: because he is a collegue, but i have stopped taking people out for meals now...
i learned my lesson
Haha, that's a rare case. One must be shameless enough to do that.
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-16 09:03
Dr.Bill.Shen: “I decided to borrow money from my friends and colleagues rather than putting any burden on my family.”

I do hope your friend knows what he is doin ...
Yes, I'm sure she knows this pretty well, as she's been trying to cut down any other expense. And my advice: only lend money to those intimate enough to be called real friends, not the ones who just have fun with.
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-16 09:07
Echo/hanhan: Thank you,柠檬. I have read your article and feel a lot about our young men's responsibility in today's world. I agree with you, and I havebeen think ...
Hello Echo! You're still young, so try to experience as much as you can! Just bear in mind nobody is responsible for your life other than you yourself. Have a try!
Reply Report Echo/hanhan 2016-2-16 13:57
宁檬: Hello Echo! You're still young, so try to experience as much as you can! Just bear in mind nobody is responsible for your life other than you yourself ...
Ok, Thank you. I will keep it in mind and try my best
Reply Report tdeese 2016-2-17 11:54
I think our parents give us the best years of their life... they raise us...  feed us clothe us.. make sure we are healthy and equipped to enter life... from then on we should be responsible for our own life... the choices we make are ours... and so are the consequences. friends are always good to have but we must also make sure not to abuse the friendship.... hats off to your friend for good thinking....
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-17 14:01
tdeese: I think our parents give us the best years of their life... they raise us...  feed us clothe us.. make sure we are healthy and equipped to enter life. ...
It's from our parents that we learn unconditional love. But compared to what we received from them all the way, what we give back is nothing.
Reply Report JCQ 2016-2-17 14:32
Living independently really hepls me to shoulder the responsibility of life.I admit that sometimes I cannot make my ends meet, but I never ask my parents to give me financial support. Taking money from parents from time to time can indugle your bad habits of splurging as you know your parents will never refuse to help you. This can be even worse if you think they are supposed to help you unconditionally. Anyway, being independent, not only finanacially but also mentally is of great importance to shape up our character and helps us to see clearly who we are.
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-18 11:04
JCQ: Living independently really hepls me to shoulder the responsibility of life.I admit that sometimes I cannot make my ends meet, but I never ask my pare ...
Very mature thinking for such a young person!
Reply Report claudeckenni 2016-2-19 14:06
Just because our parents doesn't love us the way we want them to be, doesn't mean that they didn't love us with everything they have. I'm a Chinese descendants, my family has been living in Indonesia for five generations now. A lot of Chinese Indonesian are very rich. My family also used to be rich until my Dad's generation, and we've been struggling ever since. But I never blamed my parents for our financial situation. I can eat three times a day, have a small bike to take me from home to my university, and my parents support my education until I graduate from a decent university in Indonesia, I'm already thankful for it.

After graduating from university, my other Chinese Indonesian friends can get married at 23 years old. Their family paid for everything, including houses, cars, and the wedding. They even gave them a shop or factory that they could use to earn money. Most of them already have two children now and earn more than 10.000 RMB a month. Me, on the other hand need to bust my ass off working in the small office for 2 years until I got a scholarship to China. While studying in China, I worked a few jobs online and use the extra money to travel to more than 50 cities in China in the last four years and met a lot of wonderful new friends.

It's true to some people's opinion my friends are living a better life than mine. But having everything in life handed to you by your parents, where's the fun in that? I'm thankful for my parents that even though they are not rich, they taught me a lot of important lessons on life. They pushed me to work harder and smarter, I learned a lot from them, even from their flaws. Struggles make you stronger and wiser. I will be graduating soon and I'm working hard every day to finish my thesis while looking for a job in China. I don't know what the future may hold for me, but I believe that there's a new adventure that awaits me =)
Reply Report 宁檬 2016-2-19 16:08
claudeckenni: Just because our parents doesn't love us the way we want them to be, doesn't mean that they didn't love us with everything they have. I'm a Chinese de ...
You're able to experience much more in this way, and that's what life's all about. Wish you all the best in China!

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