Category Archives: Culture

Lijia Zhang on gender, China’s sexual revolution and prostitution in contemporary China (Interview: part 2)

My grandma was a prostitute-turned-concubine; my mother a frustrated worker and victim of the political campaigns; and myself a factory-worker-turned writer, making the best out of new opportunities. These stories illustrate the changes Chinese women have gone through.

Lijia Zhang is a role model for women across China and worldwide. Zhang’s mother dragged her out of school, sold her textbooks and forced her to take a job at a factory making missiles capable of reaching North America so she could contribute to the family income. Watching her dream of studying at a university dissolve as she spent her days checking pressure gauges among a roomful of condescending older men, she may have resented her position but Zhang knuckled down to work nonetheless. Frustrated by her limited opportunities as a young woman in a male-dominated industry, she taught herself English and got a degree though the factory programme. That was just the start; her determination and courage never failed.

lijia-paintingYears later, Zhang is an internationally renowned writer and public speaker, known in world media as an expert on China, and one of the few (“probably the only”, she says) Chinese writers writing in English actually living in China. To many of her readers and listeners, China may be a far off place. But for Zhang, it is her background, home, and her every day reality. Her presence is a vital sign: she hasn’t given up on China. She is still here, speaking, writing and fighting for what she believes China needs.

A proud women’s rights advocate, she has become an regular speaker at Beijing’s Literary Festival, held every March at The Bookworm in Sanlitun. Her most recent appearance last Saturday was tainted by the absence of fellow speaker and LGBT activist, Xiao Tie, who was turned away by Beijing police at the door. Talking about women’s education, sexual autonomy, and China’s new anti-domestic violence law with Australian historian Claire Wright and British reporter Bidisha, Zhang acknowledged that Xiao Tie’s detention demonstrates the ongoing need for a strong feminist movement in China and the imperative demand for greater women’s rights.

Zhang has two teenage daughters, who live with her in Beijing (the elder attends university in England) and have utterly different lives from her own. Zhang says she sometimes finds it hard to understand what drives her daughters, unable to assimilate her own poverty-stricken upbringing in Nanjing with their privileged cosmopolitan lifestyles, rich with opportunities she didn’t have. Nevertheless, the open-minded relationship she describes makes her seem like a pretty cool mother to have.

Part two of the interview explores themes of gender, sexual freedom, China’s sexual revolution and Zhang’s upcoming novel, Lotus, about the life of a sex worker in contemporary China [excerpts from Zhang’s first book, Socialism is Great!].


Freedom and Sexual Freedom

Do you think your opportunities are restricted by your gender?

I can say that in the factory, for women it was a lot more difficult. The higher you go the fewer women there are, which is one of the reasons that made me interested in writing about women’s and gender issues. Women’s position in society really tells a lot about what’s going on, how civilized the society is.

You wrote that your mother never explained periods, pregnancy or childbirth to you – she said that you were born from her armpit.

I guess being born from an armpit sounds more acceptable, less embarrassing, than being born from a vagina!

[excerpt] No one in my family ever mentioned the word “sex” or even implied it. When I was little I once asked my mother, “Where was I born from?” She said it wasn’t the sort of question for a child. I insisted, so she replied that I was born from her underarm, the same answer many of my friends heard from their parents. Underarm? How bizarre! There did not seem to be a hole there.

How do you think being sheltered affected your development into adulthood?

It means I wasted less time on my looks. You know, we were self-conscious about the body, but we didn’t have makeup, so we wasted less time on it. My daughter is so different! She is very beautiful and she is aware of that fact. We were just traveling in Ethiopia, a poor country, and even traveling in public on the bus she was putting on makeup, on the bus! Whenever I wanted to take a photograph, she said: “No, I don’t want a photograph. I haven’t got any make up on.”

Your early relationships with men seemed to be a catalyst for you dreams of escaping factory life in the 1980s.

That hasn’t changed. I still like a clever man. For me that’s more important than looks. I’ve always been conscious of my being uneducated, so I always find an educated man, an intelligent man, attractive.

But if anything has changed, I place a lot more emphasis on how they must be nice people. I will not go for a man who is successful and clever, but not nice. Unfortunately, a lot of successful men are not particularly nice! Their focus on themselves and self-absorption gives them the drive to go far.

What is the link between your sexual awakening and your ambition?

It was all part of the rebellion. I was willing to be different, willing to try new things, and wanting to expand my world and life experience. In many ways I think I haven’t changed that much. My situation in life has changed, but fundamentally I think I haven’t changed.

How have attitudes toward sex changed since your life in the factory?

Oh, changed dramatically. I spoke with famous sociologist Li Yinhe recently. She conducted a survey in 1989, and some 85% of people claimed they had no sexual experience before marriage. Among the 15% who did have sexual experience, some of them were already engaged, which means by Chinese standards that they are already a couple. Now very few people will have no sexual experience by the time they get married. So there’s been a huge change.

Could you give me some idea of how official attitudes and peoples’ personalattitudes toward sex compare?

One reason that a so-called sexual revolution has taken place is that the authorities have retreated from people’s personal lives, sex life included. When I first went to the factory, there was a scandal. A married man and an unmarried woman were discovered having an affair in my mother’s workshop. The couple got caught and the man was sent to a labour camp for three years. The woman was more or less ruined, I think she tried to commit suicide. So in the 1980s it was a big deal. Now it is no longer a big deal. Certainly the authorities are still urging people to stay loyal to their partners, but [infidelity] is tolerated. That is an area the government no longer try to control.

Having said that, it’s only tolerated as long as you don’t go over the top. A professor form Nanjing – in many ways a nice man, a good professor who looks after his mother – was organizing orgies. That’s not allowed. So this area is not completely left alone.

Has positive change been seen in the availability of sex education?

No, there’s not enough. While sex before marriage has become commonplace, there’s not enough sex education, especially among the rural population. There’s a standard example: when a couple get married and the woman could be getting pregnant, they’ll be given condoms and someone will demonstrate by putting the condom on their thumb. So the woman will still get pregnant and they’ll say, ‘Oh, how did you do that?’ They put the condom on the thumb.

Sex education is supposed to be part of the curriculum but it is not strictly implemented. So on one hand, there’s this explosion as the divorce rate is increasing, abortion rates are rising and STDs have rocketed. But on the other hand sex education is totally lacking.

What about women’s access to contraception and healthcare?

It’s quite free. But people don’t know how to use it, because at school, there’s not enough education.

You describe going for a backstreet abortion and having to keep it secret, even from your mother. How would you feel if one of your daughters were in a similar situation?

We just talked about this when we were just on holiday and they laughed. Both of them became sexually active at quite a young age. I remember one year, I think when my older daughter was fifteen or sixteen, I wrote her a letter to tell her not to: ‘Please don’t start your sex life too young, I think once you do that it may generate emotions you find difficult to deal with, but if you have to, then use contraception for goodness sake.’ She hugged me but she hinted that by then, she’d already done it. That’s the norm. I think it’s just peer pressure in some ways. If you haven’t got a boyfriend, you’re not successful. It’s so stupid.

How do you as a family compare to other Chinese families?

Oh, we talk about this stuff. Yes, we talk about sex. But, it’s quite funny. My daughter said, ‘of course, by the time you wrote me the letter, I knew everything.’ Because they have access to the internet and pornography.

Just thinking about my daughters, they seem really immature. My elder daughter is nearly nineteen. She has no sense of money, but she is smart in so very many ways.

Do you think you were like them at their age?

No. We always had so little food; maybe they have had things come too easy for them. Whenever my mother came back home, we were always thinking about whether she had enough to eat. My father was very selfish and we never liked him very much.

I just had a conversation with my daughters, you know they are so vain. For me, more than anything else, I think they must be good, decent human beings. But they are a bit self-absorbed, a bit selfish I think. Maybe it is just a generation thing, I don’t know.

 

Lotus

Your new book, Lotus, is about a sex worker. Why did that idea arise?

Before she died, I discovered my grandmother was a sex worker. She was an orphan and sold into a brothel. She met my grandfather on the job and then became his concubine.

How much did you learn from her about that part of her life?

Not very much, but my grandmother was a very important person to me, somebody that brought me up. You wouldn’t imagine that she was a concubine, but I am curious how she coped, and what her life was like. My grandma’s story inspired it but I didn’t know any details.

Later, one year when I was in Shenzhen for work, I was staying at a hotel and my hair was dreadful, so I went to get a haircut. The women just giggled and said there was only one person who knew how to cut hair and that person was not around. Then I saw that there were no hair shavings on the floor. So I just looked at them all, wearing very low cut dresses.

Have you unearthed anything that’s brought you moral quandaries or personal danger?

No, no personal danger. But I discovered that many people have the same fantasy. People ask me: are these prostitutes beautiful? They’re just normal women – some are ugly, some wear more makeup, they wear more revealing clothes, but they are just normal women.

Their lives are very complicated. All the prostitutes I have met help their family. It is out of obligation but it also makes them feel good. They know prostitution is wrong so they argue, ‘look I’m helping my family, you cannot say I’m a bad person.’ Also, because they have money, they improve their position in the family, who are proud of them, which gives them a lot of pleasure.

I stayed with them, those prostitutes. I was really interesting. I asked one woman, ‘what’s your favourite [food]?’ and she said, ‘toast on jam.’ She had begun to experiment with things; in the village you would never have heard of such things. I went to see her mother. I asked her what to buy for her mother, she said, ‘buy something my mother hasn’t tried.’ So this was all part of her trying new things. I bought her mother a durian.

Why does the world need to know about China’s sex workers?

Prostitution is just a device, a window to show the tensions and the changes. You can pack in so many important issues: migration, women’s position, the gap between city and rural.

What challenges did you face when researching Lotus?

Part of the biggest challenge is their life is so far removed from mine. One of my friends said: ‘try and work as a prostitute, you can satisfy your sexual needs, and you can make some money, and do your research.’ Imagine, if I had to work as a prostitute! I know I have lots of choices in life, so it’s difficult to identify with their life.

They’re just humans, they’re very complicated. I really had lots of fun. They talk a lot about breasts and some of them have implants. One woman’s implants go sideways! You know, just awful. Before they are successful [with a client] they often go to the back room – they really compare their breasts!

I went to another of the prostitutes’ home to visit her family. She had become quite successful, she had bought her family a flat and she no longer lived in the village. She went back because she was supposed to be sweeping the tomb for her stepfather and when she arrived she put on high heels. High heels! When we were walking to the mountain she was wearing high heels. To show [her change in status].

Sounds like you quite enjoyed that process.

Of course, yes. But it took me so long! I worked as a volunteer, distributing condoms. If we hadn’t met, how could we have language, what would we talk about? If they’re not in my life, it would be difficult to imagine. So many small details in the book are real.


Lijia Zhang’s novel Lotus will be available in 2017, published by Henry Holt & Co.

Read on: Lijia Zhang on ambition, writing and her public role in contemporary China (part 1)

Excerpts of this interview were published on Caixin in February 2016. Check out my Caixin debut here: Redefining the China Dream.

 

Lijia Zhang on ambition, writing and her public role in contemporary China (Interview: part 1)

One sunny but frigid Saturday in early January, I crossed Beijing and headed to an area I’d never been to before. As I drew close to the top of the subway escalator, feeling the cold seeping into my shell of hoarded underground warmth, I phoned Chinese writer and author, Lijia Zhang, asking for directions to her home. Not long afterward, she guided me through a narrow redbrick alleyway and led me to her home.

socialism-is-great.jpgOnce indoors, this vivacious and brightly dressed woman in her early fifties plied me with green tea and fruit, sat down across from me at a large glass dining table and began to chat. Despite suffering from jetlag (she says it is getting worse with age) after a business trip to London and holiday to Ethiopia with her two teenage daughters (17 and 19), she spoke spiritedly.

We talked for an hour an a half, pausing only for Zhang to grab another layer of clothing, while reminding me that she’s from southern China and still unused to the cold of Beijing’s bitter winters. We agreed that traveling outside of China is the only way to stay sane during the icy months, realising a mutual interest in Burma (Myanmar).

Throughout our meeting, this author whose first book has been published in 7 languages, and first novel, Lotus, will be released next year, seemed just as curious about me as I was about her. She gave me some hints about writing in China, tips on getting my work seen by a wider audience, and even slipped in a little love life advice! And did she drop a little hint about her third book?


Zhang burst onto the global literary scene in 2008 with the memoir of her rebellious journey from life as a disillusioned factory worker to becoming a writer and journalist in English. Her first book Socialism is Great! A Workers Memoir of the New China describes how she dreamt of escaping the stultifying routine of factory life, while reading Jane Eyre hidden within the folds of The People’s Daily and studying English in the local dump.

Zhang’s plans to attend college were quashed when her mother dragged her out of school at 16 and forced her to work in a factory producing intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in her hometown, the southeastern city of Nanjing. Zhang says there has always been a rebellious streak in her: she chose to teach herself English as a way out of her claustrophobic surroundings, spearheaded a walk-out in support of the Tiananmen Square demonstrators in 1989, and still describes her dress-sense as reyan, conspicuous or showy.

One of the few mainland writers writing in English, Zhang describes herself as being a cultural bridge between China and the world. She now writes regular op-eds for publications including the New York Times, the Guardian and The Observer and is a regular guest on media outlets such as the BBC, CNN and NPR.

lijia-tea

How did your aspirations to get away from factory life in the 1980s differ from the national China dream at that time?

I have never been asked this question before. In some ways you can see the similarity. Like me, China was the frog in the well, because of its’ isolation. But in China’s case, it was a self-imposed isolation from the world. China had just gingerly opened its doors in the late 1970s, and, like myself, was very curious about the outside world. I knew the world was large and I was not happy to be trapped in my small world.

Does the new China dream being peddled around look like a farce?

The China dream, the way I read it, is basically China’s rejuvenation. It wouldn’t have worked in the 1980s, because at that time China was just establishing itself. Now China’s position in the world is increasing and the nationalist sentiment is growing, so the new China Dream has tapped into that.

It sounds like you defied expectations in any way you could.

Chinese people have this really strong tendency towards conformity. I still remember that my sister, when we were at school – our whole class too – nobody would be the first to change from long sleeves to short sleeves, it’s really silly. Certainly that’s a very suffocating environment.

Have you continued to defy the China norm, or has that changed?

Well I think China definitely has grown far more individualistic. I guess that tendency started in the eighties and in some ways climaxed in the democratic movement. When I was in the factory, you couldn’t express yourself in any way. Now young people can do as they like. You can shave your head! I hang out with a lot of feminists like Li Maizi – that will probably be my next book – she constantly changes her hairstyle and things. The new generation are very different.

Do you know where your coworkers from the factory ended up?

I have one close friend – the book is dedicated to her, Zhou Fang – but she was different, she was educated, she was sent to work after graduation. I keep in touch with her, because she is still one of my best friends. She’s now a senior manager with 3M. She lives in Minnesota.

A year after my marriage collapsed I met one of the women from my work group. I was going through the worst time in my life, and I saw my former colleague sitting on the roadside selling newspapers. A few years before that, all women aged over 45 were sacked. In all state downsizing, women are always first to go. She retired early and the pension was very little. Just to make a living she was sitting on the roadside selling newspaper.

I saw another guy, Ma, the guy who kept spitting [in the book]. It was really terrifying, just to see him. He’d had a stroke and had already become an old man. He still lived in the same village.

 

Writing in English

Does writing in English hold particular advantages over writing in Chinese?

I am one of very few Chinese people who write in English. I certainly get noticed because I am one of the few people who live in China. There are a few people writing in English, like Yiyun Li, Ha Jin, but they live abroad. So I am in an unusual position.

Recently I had an interview with BBC TV about the 1.3 million unregistered people to be allowed a Hukou. BBC called me because they needed somebody who can understand Chinese society but can also communicate with people outside, speaking English.

Last year I was invited to attend an academic conference. I was introduced as one of the only Chinese living in China writing for international publications. So that’s the reason I was invited to attend the conference; I was flattered.

I also got a fellowship from the US State department. I have no idea how!

Does writing in English help you to think in different ways?

Talking about writing, I increasingly notice some of the common problems in Chinese writing – writing in Chinese by Chinese authors. Writers have trouble using different points of view. Chinese authors often use omniscient [narrators], but not very skillfully.

To give you an example, Sheng Ke Yi wrote a book called Northern Girls. The content is fascinating, but it was so poorly written, I don’t know how it got such attention! In once scene, they were having sex, and the story jumps point of view from his to her point of view. Terrible! She is regarded as an established writer but she makes common mistakes that any creative writing class will tell you to avoid. So I notice these kinds of problems now. I have a few Chinese friends who write and I often have the urge to point this out to them.

Creative writing is offered to Chinese Literature students, does this bring hope for Chinese writing?

Creative writing courses alone do not automatically produce writers. Writing is something so personal. The drive has to come from within yourself. You have to have a desire to write your story and to express yourself this way. But writing is a craft, so some things can be learned. Yes, of course I think Chinese writers will benefit from creative writing courses, but Chinese Literature overall is in a bad place. There are many reasons, and creative writing courses will not solve the fundamental problems.

Socialism is Great! was published in 2008. Why then?

Like many things, it happened accidentally. I benefitted hugely from the creative writing course [MA Creative Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, 2003-4]. I had a wonderful tutor. I chose a module about non-fiction writing, life writing, and my tutor was Blake Morrison. I found him very inspiring. In his book he borrows a lot of elements from non-fiction writing, which I was very much inspired by. I had already finished the book but after the course I really had a major rewrite.

In December 2006, I was working for a literary agent and I was assigned to interview James Atlas, the publisher, who had a project publishing in China. I interviewed him and I said, ‘Oh, I actually have a book.’ He said ‘show me,’ so I showed him. He read it through on his flight back from Beijing to New York and decided to publish the book. It just happened, just like that.

Do you see the publication of Socialism is Great! as the turning point of your career?

It was. It has proved to be the turning point. I didn’t expect that a little book would have such a big impact. It was published by a small independent publisher – but they gave lots of attention to it – and then picked up by Random House, had good reviews, and it was published in different languages. I have to say I am grateful… looking back I had such a bad contract! Now, I’m able to make a living from giving public speeches and I have a lot more offers of jobs, so I can pick and choose.

Did you consider approaching a China based publisher?

No. The climax of the book was about the 1989 demonstration [in support of the Tiananmen protests], so the book was very much about jumping out of the well. By the time I organised the demonstration, mentally I was already out of there.

 

Writing in China

What challenges do you face, as a Chinese writer, writing in English, based in Beijing?

I would still consider the first one as language – it is just very difficult – especially in the beginning. Secondly, the way to present an argument: in the West, there is more focus on presenting a very balanced view, which is not stressed so much here.

Have you ever felt threatened as a result of your work?

In 2008, I wrote a piece for the Guardian called It’s time to stop criticising China. I wrote that China has come a long way since the 1980s. I got a lot of hatemail, mostly from right wing Republicans, saying “how could you possibly defend a fascist regime like China?”

Then in 2011, when Little Yueyue was run over by two vehicles in and left bleeding by 18 passersby, and the incident was caught on CCTV, I wrote a piece questioning China’s declining morals. I got so much hate-mail from Chinese people. I guessed some of them were from wumaodang (the fifty cents party), paid by the authorities to attack anybody they don’t like. But some people’s English sounded too natural; they must have been Chinese living abroad. I got lots of personal hate-mail saying I was the running dog of the west, that I don’t deserve to be Chinese, and how ugly I am.

Because it’s not face-to-face, you can say anything.

For a time, you wrote under your married name while simultaneously using your maiden name. How did that make you feel?

That was just a safety concern really; for some articles it felt safer. It didn’t bother me. I just knew it was a necessity to attract less attention. If they are nasty, they can be nastier to a Chinese national, even if you’ve got a British passport. But I am divorced, I cannot use the other one any more! And my name, Lijia Zhang, is more established now. I cannot even use Zhang Lijia any more.

 

Social Role

You once said you see yourself as being the cultural bridge between China and the world. What amount of control do you feel in how China is seen by the rest of the world?

I wrote a piece on the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 about this issue, the title was Expanding Cage. I wrote that there is still control but after 1989 the government relaxed the control, and expanding personal freedoms is part of that strategy. So, now, ordinary people feel very free.

I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions of china. People outside China imagine that 1.3 billion people exist in a very controlled, very rigid environment here. But for lots of ordinary people, the cage has expanded so much that they don’t often feel the limit, unless you’re like visual artist Ai Wei Wei or somebody caught up with the law. Lots of ordinary Chinese people actually feel free.

You are bringing domestic China to the world.

Public speaking is a big part of that. Writing books and articles is, too.

Do you see yourself influencing foreign policy or the Chinese diaspora?

I don’t know about that! But I have been often asked to meet VIPs. Just recently I met a former Greek foreign minister, who is now in charge of the human rights issue for the European Commission. He came here to participate in dialogues with the Chinese authorities and he had one free day to meet people, so I was one of the people he met. I don’t know if I can influence foreign policy but I am happy to share what I know.

Is there something you wish people knew about you or a question you wish someone would ask?

What a nice person I am! No. No, people serve the purpose they have. They want to know certain things, so that’s fine.


 

Read on: Lijia Zhang on Gender, China’s sexual rev0lution and her new novel about prostitution in contemporary China (part 2)

25 Things I Did Instead of Getting Married at 25

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Thirteen months ago, I published an article entitled 25 Things I did Instead of Getting Married At 25. It’s a polemic and judgemental piece about marriage and married people, spurred on by sensationalism. It was an overreaction to people I knew getting engaged, having babies, and posting pictures of their weddings on Facebook. Perhaps it was I, not they, who was scared shitless about the future.

I had been worried that people my age were choosing marriage, relationships, and children – what I viewed as symbols of conventional life – over careers, travel, and self-improvement. I wrote: How can they be my friends when we are so clearly of very different attitudes toward life?

I was proud of everything I’d achieved, having left my home country and arrived, alone, in China. I wanted to tell the world: there are other ways to live a fulfilling life. (Or did I think I needed to prove that some ways are better?) But, what I failed to ask myself was “why should their life choices reflect mine?”

I have always had conflicting views on marriage. Marriage doesn’t seem personally necessary when I know I could live a (financially, socially, politically) stable and independent life perfectly happily. It is difficult for me to see the relevance of an ancient social convention in modern life, particularly with its links to religious bodies that have never held a significant position in my life. It has been particularly hard to reconcile my feminism with the idea of one day getting married: marriage traditionally implied the ownership (and thus restriction) of a woman, and why would any woman willingly choose that?

Times have changed. People have changed. The nature of marriage has changed.

I would still argue that marriage is largely non-essential in modern Western life. I do still believe that marriage is not the only way to show you love someone. But I’ve stopped seeing it as “a pointless gesture people undergo to publicly declare their feelings”.

The very fact that it is non-essential for the majority of people is possibly the most powerful element of modern marriage. Rather than becoming insignificant, it possibly means more than it once did, purely because it is so heavily reliant on individual choice.

I would nevertheless advocate exploring a less conventional path through life, particularly for young people in countries where marriage is still the expectation. For example, many young Chinese women are still expected to get married by the time they are 27, under threat of becoming a “leftover woman” if they wait too long. Rather than be forced into marriage by the phantom “biological clock”, I believe the marriage question must be left to individual choice.

At 25 there’s still so much learning, growing, travelling to be done!

Perhaps there are many more interesting things you could do with your time than settle down with your mortgage and a brand new hubby. But marriage is not the end of life. In fact, it could just be the beginning. There’s still so much living to be done, that in 10 years time, you’re probably not going to be the same person you are right now. So if you’ve found someone who’ll love you for who you are in years to come, rather than who you once were, then you’re a very lucky person.

Getting married is not settling down, it is flying free together.

Nonetheless, it is with pride that I give you 25 things I did instead of getting married at 25:

  1. Fill up a passport five years before it expires
  2. Get a job that changes lives
  3. Move a few thousand miles from homeand stay there
  4. Live aloneand make your house your home
  5. Start a blogand publish things people actually read
  6. Meet friends with whom you only speak your second language(Korean)
  7. Begin studying a third language(Chinese)
  8. Make your own fresh coffee instead of buying it
  9. Create and nurture an indoor garden… keep the plants alive!
  10. Sing at an open mic eventunrehearsed
  11. Learn Capoeira
  12. Quit the job with the sexist boss
  13. Read non-fiction of your own choosing
  14. Study online courses
  15. Become financially independentwhich means doing your own tax returns & facing up to the Student Loans Company
  16. Vote in the UK elections from overseas
  17. Dance around naked in your living room
  18. Make your Dad proud so he tells you every time you talk
  19. Invite your Mother to visitand stay in your home
  20. Tell the world “I am a Feminist!”
  21. Actually make friends with colleagues
  22. Learn more about Buddhism
  23. Inspire people around you
  24. Celebrate Lunar New Year in proper Chinese style(over-eating and fireworks)
  25. Never stop setting new goals

post revised 10th April 2016

Read more:

Read the original 25 THINGS I DID INSTEAD OF GETTING MARRIED AT 25 here (PDF)

Having It All: Career and Love: can we ever have it all? (Catherine and The Lion)