Self-sufficiency & resilience: Insights from an introvert from China

Enmerkar, a young Chinese woman from Jiangsu, shares her experiences of her life. She works in Shanghai and is currently studying for a role in the civil service.

I selected a position on this Monday and paid the fee. The test includes two written tests, one interview. If the candidate passes them, they will have a physical checkup and a political investigation because the government doesn’t hope to employ individuals who have terminal diseases or individuals whose relatives are engaged in overthrowing the government. Once all the procedures get done, the person will be a civil servant.

The written tests covers a variety of knowledge like spatial reasoning, general knowledge, Chinese language skills, maths, patience, reactions to stress, writing skills, understanding of the state’s policies.

I am very positive about my test. I’m not admant on passing it, it could not be any better if I secure the position, if I don’t, that is also fine. My current job is also fine. I can take the tests for several times every year, traveling to different places to take tests also broadens my horizons and fulfills of wish of sightseeing and tasting local food. The more tests one takes, more patterns of the tests one can catch.

I’d like to be a civil servant because I’d like to serve my people and to get the welfare provided by the government. It will be a lifelong position, the income is okay, most civil servants don’t have to work overtime. If I become one, I’ll have the time to further my education, to interact with my friends, to invest more time in my hobbies.

My other jobs are office work, from jobhunting applications. Most people here look for a new job by jobhunting apps.


I manage the database of test questions (primary school, middle school) in a company. Other information should remain confidential. My company doesn’t like employees revealing info about our projects to outsiders, they have signed a contract with us.

Difficulties? Difficulties don’t exist as long as one isn’t absent-minded when working. If the employees make mistakes for many times, he/she may be scolded by the supervisors.

Pleasures: free meals, snacks, fitness center, presents. I can also listen to Chinese lectures, documentaries, audiobooks on various fields, and friends’ group calls when working. Not working overtime won’t make managers feel disappointed about us.

My weekly working hours: 8×5=40 hours.

The workplace is far away from my apartment, it takes me 3.5 hours or so to go to work and to go home. I have a habit of reaching workplace 45 minutes before I start to deal with today’s tasks.


I no longer feel anxious about talking to people because I realize I don’t have to build bonds with the vast majority of people, they are merely passers-by of life. I mean I realized I don’t have to befriend every individuals I come across. Also there is no point in trying to being gregarious when one has their own circles of friends, and can get along with people who share nothing in common with them.

Social anxiety didn’t interfere a lot with my life, like most Chinese students I also spent most time at school studying together with my classmates, we didn’t really have many social activities. I was well-liked and had good friends when I was a student, and I am still in contact with them. As a hardcore introvert, I prefer to have a couple of friends rather than groups of friends, though due to my easy-going personality, I have tons of acquaintances whom I’m unfamiliar with online and offline.

I didn’t consider myself to have any mental issues, and I have never been diagnosed with mental health issues. I didn’t feel I was ill mentally, so I didn’t need a psychiatrist or a therapist.

I’m an inquisitive and curious introvert who seems heartless because I use heart less. Life trained me to be self-sufficient, resilient.

Introverts: people who aren’t energetized by interacting with many strangers or people they are unfamiliar with on social occasions, instead they will feel drained after socializing with tons of strangers. Introverts are also relatively reserved on social occasions.

I used to feel overwhelmed by social interactions. Now I tend not to participate in social interactions, because I have better things to do. I prefer to read articles on my phone than to initiate conversations with strangers.

I also pursue freedom and self-realization. I wish someday I could break yokes that were placed on me with my own will.

Self-realization: I think two Chinese sayings can explain it.

I. 修身,治国,齐家,平天下 which literally means Cultivate oneself, Bring order to the family, Govern the state, Bring peace. I’m an ordinary person from an ordinary background, so I am simply qualified to pursue a minimalized version of that saying.

II. 读万卷书,行万里路 which literally means reading a lot and travelling countless miles.

Freedom: freedom of doing things I’ve been interested in like furthering my education. I could have insisted on doing my master degree but considering my parents are very old, I don’t stand they making money for me for more years. I’ve saved money for the higher degree I’ll probably do once I get employed by the government.

I think the society here itself believes the importance of education, also the government has tried to rid the state of illiteracy and poverty. My parents’ mindset must be affected by the society, our Jiangsu province is relatively prosperous, the education is the most developed in China, when parents have chitchats with each other, they mention their kids’ rankings in class, grades.

My simply told me 书中自有黄金屋/ in the book there is a house of gold. My dad also got expired magazines and newspapers from a friend of his who worked in a high school. He let me read those publications when I was at home. Once he took a thick old Chinese dictionary home, I was very delighted to get it.

*Text within interview in italics are copied from Enmerkar’s InterPals online profile

Author: Workers' Archive

Covering sensitivity at work and beyond on my website:

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