The Chinese TV episode The first half of my life just finished in the week of July 24 on Shanghai Eastern Satellite TV. It is a 2017 Chinese television series based on the Hong Kong novelist, Yi Shu’s, novel. It is about urban people’s choices of love, family, and career.
I watched it on YouTube and I quite like this story as it reveals some real and modern life in China. I like several characters from the story, and I would like to introduce them separately.
Character 1: Zi Jun Luo
Zi Jun , the leading actress, got married soon after she graduated from university. Although she had a good education and worked for an excellent company for a short time, she became a full-time housewife as her husband Jun Shen Chen proposed that she stay at home to be a docile and beautiful wife and not need to go to work. He promised he would pay all the bills and raise the family for a lifetime.
There’s a saying to describe the situation between a wealthy husband and a young and beautiful wife in China: “ You (wife) just need to stay cute. I (husband) take care of everything else.” It has been a relevant saying for a couple of years. It has become some women’s ideal life. Going to work sometimes can be hard as they need to wake up early and take transportation or drive to work in the peak busy traffic during the day which can be frustrating.
Zi Jun quit her job and became a stay –at-home married woman for ten years. During the ten years, she has a good life without worrying about money, clothing, or anything. She has a full-time nanny who does all the housework, so she does not need to do anything. The nanny does everything for the house including buying groceries, picking up Zi Jun’s son from school, cleaning, and cooking. Zi Jun’s life is all about shopping, going to the beauty salon. All her clothing is high-end and expensive.
Is a woman lucky enough to marry a husband who’s capable of making money and does she not need to go back to work? In normal women’s lives, they need to go to work no matter, rain or shine, to earn money and co-share the family’s responsibility.
After ten year’s marriage, Zi Jun has been very dependent on Jun Sheng. Jun Sheng has become the family’s core center. All her purpose is to please her husband and protect the marriage from any beautiful young women. She is uncomfortable when she sees Jun Sheng’s young female colleagues are around him, even though they only have a working relationship. She is jealous of them and thinks those young ladies are risky and can destroy her marriage. She is very unconfident and thinks Jun Sheng is too good to be a loyal husband.
Every day she worries about affairs and young females, but she does not understand what her husband does or the difficulties and frustrations he is facing everyday on his job. She stays in her own fairy world and has not learned anything new since graduation. When her seven-year-old son asks the question, “What is a cornea?”，she says that it is masks for feet.
Then one day, Jun Sheng tells her that he loves someone else and wants a divorce; her fantasy land is bloodily broken down to ashes. But what can she do in her life after divorce? She is 37 years old, and she only worked for a short time after university. She is so dependent on her husband economically and is dependent on the nanny in life, and she does not know how to live without them. She even does not know how to cook a meal for the family.
She is desperate after divorce, and she has no clue how to face life. But luckily she has a best friend –Jin Tang, who’s her university classmate.
Jin motivates Zi Jun to find a job. With Jin’s help, Zi Jun starts a sales consultant job at a cosmetic counter in a grocery store. For the first time, Zi Jun realizes that earning money is not easy. She has to carry heavy goods to the grocery store and do the cleaning; although she initially thought her job should be just to sell cosmetics. She meets a customer who does not want to buy products but just wants to have a free makeup session. The customer says that she does not like the products. Zi Jun says then she will wipe off her makeup since she does not like it. The customer tells the store manager that Zi Jun’s service is very bad and then Zi Jun gets fired.
After that Zi Jun works at a shoe counter. She meets with her old classmate who sneers at her being in shoe sales and coming from a life of luxury and privilege. But she performs well and professionally under the coaching of Jin’s boy friend –Han He, who’s a successful businessman in the consulting industry.
After Zi Jun sorts out all the difficulties and embarrassments in her work and life, she starts to be more and more independent. Not only does she have a better job and works hard so she can feed her son in life and be financially independent, but also she thinks independently. One day, she thanks her ex-husband –Jun Sheng for dumping her. She never thought she was capable of doing everything by herself before the divorce.
So do you still admire a person who is entirely dependent on a man?
Character 2: Jin Tang
Jin Tang is Zi Jun’s best friend. She is a very independent lady. She went to a consulting company as an intern.She is quite smart and also worked very hard. Soon she became a female executive, and she has a promising career.
As Zi Jun’s best friend, Jin is always around Zi Jun when she needs help. When one day she finds Jun Sheng has a Xiao San (a secret lover in Chinese) in the company, she warns Jun Sheng and the Xiao San to end the relationship to protect Zi Jun.
When Zi Jun goes through the divorce, Jin is the one who helps her through. Zin Jun wins the custody of her son although she has no job and hasn’t cooked a meal for her son. Jun is the one who can be the friend beside Zi Jun forever and is the one who always is the fire fighter when Zi Jun’s life has a crisis and needs her help.
Jin is a great friend and always is there when needed.
However, Jin’s love intelligence is not as high as her IQ. Jin has a boyfriend in the same company, whose name is Han He, for ten years. Han used to be Jin’s mentor when Jin first started her career. Han coached Jin and Jin progressed a lot in her career.
Jin admires and loves Han, and she always wants to show the best side in front of him. She would like to be a smart, independent and perfect girlfriend. One day, Han resigns, as he wants Jin to feel relaxed when they are not working in the same company and the same team. Han plans to go to another consultant company.
But Jin wants to show Han that she’s smarter than him in work and she is afraid that Han will take the customers with him. Jin goes to those customers, one by one, who used to be Han’s client to persuade them to stay with her company.
That’s one of Jin’s weakness; she does not believe in Han. In fact, Han met with his ex-clients and told them to stay with Jin’s company. He told his clients that Jin is a great consultant. Jin always thinks Han has his purpose as he is a business man. Jin thinks he always wants something back in the exchange for everything.
In addition to the competition, Jin believes in rumor and thinks Han has a one-night affair with a beautiful female colleague although Han tells her that’s not true. In fact, the female colleague admits that she made up those stories as she wanted to win Han from Jin after several years.
In front of Han, Jin seems like a proud princess, but she is always doubtful about their love. Jin rejects Han’s proposal for dinner, as she’s still so unsure if she’s ready to be part of Han’s life.
To be away from Han, she accepts the offer of relocating to Hong Kong for one year, and after one year, she is further promoted to be a partner of the company.
Sadly after she thinks she’s ready to come back to Han, she finds Han has fallen in love with Zi Jun. This is a heartbreaking result to see her two important people betray her. Although Zi Jun does not accept Han to protect Jin from being hurt, Jin is in fact not ready to be Han’s wife as she tried very hard not to be hurt by Han. She always tries hard to be great in her career, be smarter and spotless. She tries to spend more time to be ready as a good wife, but she does not enjoy it at all. Her value proposition as a progressing business woman was doubted.
Character 3: Han He
Han is the main actor. Han is the one that female audiences like. He is very intelligent and fruitful. He has lots of keen insights into career and business, so that’s why Han is a great mentor not only to Jin but also to Zi Jun after she gets divorced.
His success is not just based on his hard work and capability, but also on being sincere with his clients, who usually become friends with him and follow him to any company he works for.
In the end, Han says he fell in love with Zi Jun although he knew Jin would be hurt. He’s a man who dares to face his feelings as he does not want to marry her but hides this secret for a lifetime which is not right.
He has lots of insightful, short but valid conclusions about work and life. Here are some I would like to share.
After Zi Jun gets divorced, Han says: “Nobody can be your shelter for a lifetime as you thought. Only you can protect yourself ultimately. Even your shelter is shaky or unpredictable, but it’s better than living in other’s shadow.”
When Jin is competing with Han to win his clients, Han says: “ In the same time and the same point, people better have only one relationship (either work relationship or lovers relationship), otherwise it’s very likely to be emotional and not easy to make a good decision.”
When Jin doubts Han’s proposal. He says “Exchange is not a bad thing in a love relationship. It’s better than one person’s sacrifice. There are not lots of things you can sacrifice in a lifetime. If you give up everything for another person, you will lose everything and won’t be happy. The exchange is the mutual benefit not only in business but also in life as both will be happy and get what she/he needs.”
After Zi Jun gets divorced, Han tells Jin how to help her best friend. “Be kind in mind but tough on a solution, that’s the way you treat your loved one when they need help. Don’t feed them fish but teach them how to fish.”
Han tells Jin in a relationship:
“If you hate a person, don’t revenge but just ignore them. Why spend time and effort to hate someone who doesn’t matter?”
“To be proud in front of money and love is the most foolish thing. To be proud in front of love, you will lose your lover. To be proud in front of a business, you will lose money.”
“Once you made a promise, you need to make it real. Don’t be a person who can be bargained on promises, otherwise, you will lose your credibility.
After many years, we will be together; it is not because you are young and beautiful, nor because I am wealthy and successful, to be together is just love to be together and feel comfortable.
After Zi Jun gets divorced he does not understand why Xiao San is a middle aged woman who’s not pretty. Han says:
Losing a competition is very normal and acceptable. But if you do not know how you lose it, you will keep being defeated every time in the same place again and again. So you need to learn from the failure.
Why do you live only for your husband and child? This is not loving; it’s to please them and sacrifice yourself.
Let her experience life and let her fall; don’t save her yet. Otherwise, she thinks she’s a good swimmer, and she can dive. Let her jump into the river, and we will not save her until she realizes she’s not a good swimmer and she needs to learn how to swim before jumping into the river.
You are here to develop your professional life instead of making friends and expanding your network. It’s fortunate if you can make friends with your clients, but it’s normal if you can’t because it’s business.
Working experience is important, but the attitude is the key to success.
The tougher the situation is, the more pleasant the process should be.You should enjoy handing the difficulties as they will prove your value.
Although none of the main three characters are together, Zi Jun becomes more successful in work, and she lives with her son; Jin continues being a successful female executive in the consultant industry; Han leaves the industry and goes fishing. But who knows after several years, if the lost people can be found, and whether the disconnected lovers can be re-joined?