Young people choose to pause from the pressures of working
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When Xiaoxi (pseudonym) and her boyfriend Xiaolong (pseudonym) shared their travel experience online, they didn’t expect it would cause a huge dispute among netizens. 

The 26-year-old couple in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, took a road trip for a total of 14 months after they chose “naked resignations,” which means quitting a job before finding a new one, in 2016 and 2018. The two trips cost them more than 500,000 yuan ($73,000). When the couple came back, they could no longer afford the down payment of the apartment they liked.

While some netizens applaud the couple for their courage, others consider their decision reckless. Some even question their work ethic.

“Except the car we used during our first trip, all other expenses were from our savings. We are fully capable of supporting ourselves,” Xiaoxi told the Global Times, “Taking a road trip has always been our dream and we don’t want to put it off until later.”

Xiaoxi said that nowadays young people live under too much pressure, so she shared their experience to encourage others to follow their hearts and truly enjoy life.

“I believe that everyone yearns for a year, a month or even a weekend to getaway now and then,” Xiaoxi added. “The only difference is that we put it into action.”

Young people choose to pause from the pressures of working
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Xiaoxi and Xiaolong pose for a photo at the Yamdrok Lake in Nagarze County of Shannan City, Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region on September 18, 2016. Photos: Courtesy of the interviewees

Break to volunteer

An unidentified yet famous quote, “You can either travel or read, but either your body or soul must be on the way,” explains the mind-set of travel lovers, including Fang Sining, a 27-year-old woman from Beijing. 

When recalling her decision to break from her career in 2016, Fang became excited. “I resigned from my job after a year of working hard. With a 60-liter rucksack, I started my journey.” 

She traveled extensively in Thailand, Nepal, India and Indonesia. But her trip was not just about sightseeing. While staying in India, she devoted most of her time to volunteering at Mother House, a charity founded by Mother Teresa.

“People from other provinces complain that local Beijingers have too many privileges. I’ve taken so much, and now I feel the urge to give,” Fang explained, “I want to contribute to the world like Mother Teresa.” 

During her two weeks of volunteering, she gave hospice care to those who suffered from severe health problems in Kalighat, looked after those who needed long-term treatment in Prem Dan, and took care of mentally handicapped children in Shishu Bhavan.

“The world will become a better place if all lives are treated with the kindness and love they deserve,” Fang said, adding that she is always ready for the next journey.

Young people choose to pause from the pressures of working
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Fang Sining poses for a photo at Nepal’s Everest Base Camp in 2016. Photo: Courtesy of the interviewee

Nontypical gap year

Huang Chenyu, a freshman from Fudan Univeristy said she would not consider a gap year. “I don’t want to fall behind my peers just for a year of idle life.”

A freshman-to-be on the other side of the world chose the opposite. Douglas Qin has been studying in Canada since he was 14. He was admitted to the University of Toronto. But he is in no rush to start his college life. 

“The concept of a gap year is widely accepted here,” Qin introduced. “It’s common that students in the West take a gap year to travel, work part-time jobs, or concentrate on their hobbies.”

For Qin, traveling and working a part-time job are on his to-do list, but the main focus is on writing. “I’ve liked to read and write since I was a child. It’s my dream to be a writer, but I haven’t really devoted myself to writing because of a heavy course load. Now that I have the chance, I want to try a life where I can think and create every day,” Qin said.

“My family will support my basic living demands. Maybe after trying for a while, if I realize that I don’t have what it takes to become a good writer, then I’ll get a part-time job to support myself,” Qin said.

Qin’s mother Tao Jian, CEO of Xi’an Hanglv Travel Service Co. Ltd, is fully supportive of his decision. “Direction is more important than effort. When he can’t see where he’s heading, stopping for a little while to clear his mind can help him avoid detours,” she told the Global Times.

When asked her opinion about the couple mentioned above, Tao said she was very supportive since the two used their own money. She believes that now they must have a better understanding about China and the world.

Her son provided another perspective. “I think their decision of enjoying life first without savings runs counter to Chinese tradition, and that’s why it caused such controversy,” Qin explained. “However, as long as they are not boomerang kids and they don’t bring trouble to others, we should not judge their choice.”

Young people choose to pause from the pressures of working
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Photo: VCG

A career risk
He Bo, a human resources employee based in Beijing, said she would totally hesitate hiring the couple mentioned above as stability is an important merit she values when selecting candidates. “Occupational training is very energy-consuming. It usually takes three to six months for a newcomer to adapt to the business. If one had walked away before, he will do it again,” He said.

Tao’s words partially echoed with He’s opinion. “It depends on what kind of position they apply for. If it requires long-term professional accumulation, I may think twice,” Tao explained. “But if it’s creative work, I may give them a try.”

Xiaoxi admitted that they had some difficulties before settling down at their current jobs. But she didn’t agree with those saying that they lacked the sense of responsibility. “We submitted the resignation one month before we quit and made sure the job would be taken over properly. We might travel a lot, but we also work hard when we have jobs.” 

Xiaoxi added that she didn’t encourage anyone to follow their example blindly. “Be ready and live freely!”