Life's tough for China's younger generation. Finding jobs or spouses and settling down in a sometimes tough and cruel world often lend themselves to either giving up outright or detached ironic posturing.
Many of the youth of today have opted for the latter and refer to themselves as the "Buddha-like" generation.
Zhang Min, 23, is among them. He is just about to graduate and was informed recently he had failed yet another job interview - he has already sent out over 60 applications and attended 20 job fairs, but they all came to nothing, and he has no choice but to be philosophical.
"Failure does not bother me as much as before," Zhang said. "Whatever will be, will be."
The phrase "Buddha-like youth" went viral after a popular WeChat article used the term to describe the generation born in the 1990s.
"Having seen everything and keeping a casual and calm mindset toward life and career under mounting social pressure, it's fine to have something or not," according to the article.
Young Chinese, perhaps ironically, have been quick to label themselves as Buddha-like youth.
A Buddha-like relationship is, apparently, one of forgiveness, never forcing your better half to make changes, and accepting things as they are. A Buddha-like career means employees no longer concern themselves with promotions or office politics, but simply get on with the job at hand.
But there has been a backlash against the mindset, particularly among the older generation. They argue that such an approach is defined by pessimism, indolence and sloth, leading to a reduced work ethic, lack of self-motivation, and an apathetic demeanor.
"A rapidly developing China brings about many reforms and changes, which inevitably create challenges and great pressure for its younger generations, notably in career and life," said Tian Feng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Far away from her hometown, Li Xiao, 22, works in an architectural design company in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. Last year, she failed the postgraduate admission exam.
Li had intended to prepare for the exam in her spare time after work, but a lot of overtime caught her unguarded. She often gets off work at 11 p.m. and is invariably burned out.
After taking this year's exam, Li said she has little expectation about the result.
"I've tried and participated, that's what counts," she said.
The difficulties faced by this generation lead them to describe themselves in mocking tones as "prematurely balding", "monks or nuns", or the "middle-aged obese". They are nowhere near these things, but they certainly feel like they are.
"Saying 'It's OK' or 'It doesn't matter' is just a disguise we put on in the face of the rigors of life," said Zhang Li, who works as a product manager for a Beijing internet company.
When a new product is about to be launched, Zhang will have to stay in the office until 4 or even 5 am. She said the Buddha-like generation appears casual about minor matters, but spares no effort on things that really matter.
For Zhang Min, a Buddha-like job hunt is "preparing for the worst, but still doing whatever one can to best present oneself in front of an employer".
"Life itself is hard enough, and we just can't afford to make it harder on our own," he said.
Several days later, he was invited for an interview to teach at a high school in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, six hours away from his home by train. Without hesitation, he booked a ticket and started packing. He did not know whether he would get the job, but he resolved to "be Buddhist about it".
"The Buddha-like mindset helps keep today's young people calm and flexible, which better prepares them to take more responsibilities in the future, "said Xu Hua, a professor with Anhui University's School of Sociology and Political Science. "An ambitious, competent and responsible young generation is vital to a nation's development.
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