Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT
Young empty-nesters, a phrase that has become popular recently, refer to young people who live away from their parents in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Most of them are single and live by themselves, with stable income and few friends. They usually work long hours and have little time for social activities. Some of them shared their stories on social network to garner sympathy from others as a kind of spiritual consolation. However, is it really a widespread societal problem? Or is it just an excuse to escape from the responsibilities that come with being an adult?
The phrase, young empty-nesters, is a variation on empty-nesters, which refer to older people who live alone after their children go to other cities due to work, education, or marriage. However, there is an apparent difference between the two groups. Empty-nesters are represented by elderly people who are forced to live alone because their children are busy pursuing an education or work far away from them. As for the young empty-nesters, it is their choice to live alone in big cities. They make their own decision to live in such way, so they should be responsible for it.
Self-development is often an important factor to consider when young people start to look for jobs. Big cities can offer them high standards of living and better platforms to show off their talents. Even though the cost of living is much higher in urban centers and the working pressure is overbearing, they are still willing to live there. But, they would feel a sense of loneliness and discomfort as they are far away from family, relatives and friends.
However, not all the young people living in big cities are "empty-nesters." Many of them live a colorful life with many friends. They work hard. They hang out with their boyfriends or girlfriends during vacations. They strengthen their bodies through regular exercise and cultivate multiple hobbies to make new friends. They read books during spare time instead of being addicted to the Internet. They transform pressure into motivations. They never feel lonely.
Our enthusiasm for life really depends on our attitude. What really troubles the so-called young empty-nesters is they find it hard to develop romantic relationships due to limited social life. They spend most of their time at work with colleagues but find it hard to start a relationship with them for one reason or another.
For some, it is because they like to watch TV series or play online games during weekends and rarely go out to meet new friends. Another important reason is that they are afraid to look after another person. When they are faced with difficulties, they eagerly look for a shoulder to cry on. However, they fail to help others and prefer to be alone when their life is free of obstacles.
So, the truth is that the young empty-nester problem reflects a self-centered notion among young people. They refuse to interact with the outside world because they lack passion for life and avoid taking responsibilities that a mature person should take. Living with an open mind and learning to take responsibilities is the best way to walk out of the "empty nest."
The author is a graduate student from the School of International Relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University. firstname.lastname@example.org