I enjoy hanging with Daomei because he lives the unexpected life. To support his nascent acting career, he recently decided to become a lifeguard and is now completing a series of trainings, including Red Cross training to recognize and respond to heart attack symptoms and pulling dead weight through cold waves.
Daomei’s career swerves and occupational dabbling may seem familiar to Americans, but in Shenzhen, it sparkles. Moreover, it reveals a crack in what is often perceived (in China and abroad) as Shenzhener’s relentless pursuit of economic prosperity. Although it is true that many of Daomei’s classmates have settled for more mundane career tracks, nevertheless it is also true that for the tens of students who have taken paths opened by their parents or slipped into more cynical careers such as corporate drinking buddy, there is one who has left Shenzhen to roam Yunnan and another who pursued yoga. All this to say, Daomei is probably an extreme case, but he is no lone ranger — Shenzhen’s thirty somethings are grappling with the choices and individualistic possibilities that the city’s wealth has created for a small, but active middle class.
I can’t wait to see Daomei at the beach!