Generation Z Exploring diverse paths of ambition

Modern youth joining workforce, showcasing diligence to become backbone of society in the new era

By Gui Qian | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-04 07:54
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Wang Xiaodan, 22, a vlogger from Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin province. [Photo provided to]

A quiet rebel

In contrast to the ambitious Zhao, Wang Xiaodan, from Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin province, is more serene. There are many young people who, like Wang, maintain a low level of desire in the fast-paced urban life. They are not outcome-oriented and dislike competing with others.

Last summer, the 22-year-old Wang took a four-month break after graduating from Jilin International Studies University, choosing not to immediately enter the workforce like her peers. Instead, she started her own vlog, documenting her daily life through videos.

Wang never considered the popular options of pursuing a master's degree or taking the civil service examination, as she believed they did not align with her interests.

Later, driven by her curiosity about working life, she relocated from her hometown to Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong province, to work as a content operator for a fashion company. The job wasn't too demanding, allowing her to have personal time to continue producing videos.

"I really need a clear boundary between work and life. Achieving a balance between the two is what I strive for," she said.

Wang also sees herself as a "light person" — a Chinese internet term describing someone who takes things lightly. Unlike "intense people", "light" individuals are typically more introverted and sensitive, capable of noticing subtle changes in their surroundings without overly displaying their emotions.

"I find these labels quite interesting. The person who came up with them must have a lot of imagination. Only those whose creativity hasn't been dulled by life can think of such expressions," she said.

Wang hopes that she can remain a person with a rich imagination and keen perception too, as she believes that these traits are invaluable for creativity.

Many of her videos center on introspection, deep thinking, self-exploration, and some even border on the stream of consciousness, which might not necessarily align with mainstream aesthetics or preferences.

"But that doesn't mean I'm completely closed off. By sharing these videos online, I aim to connect with others," she said. In fact, Wang's videos have attracted many individuals like her. "I've kept in touch with some for a long time, and others have offered perspectives I had never considered before, which has been a pleasant surprise."

Among these like-mined people, Wang observed certain qualities unique to today's youth. "The younger generation possesses more individuality and strength than ever before. It's about daring to live a non-conformist life and seeking a state of being that they truly desire," she said. "While older generations might often follow the same life path, societal expectations, and standards of judgment, we are determined not to be confined to a single track."

Wang enjoys revisiting her mother's birthplace, a village in Northeast China, an experience she has documented in a series of videos titled "Dan's Pure Land". In one of the videos, she said, "Life is when everything moves slower, when you can hear the wind, when the falling of leaves is noticed. We should slow down and become observers and appreciators of life, not competitors."

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