The trainee standing in the center of the stage was very good-looking.
He was all dressed up, and it was obvious that he had prepared meticulously.
His makeup was also done exquisitely, and he could be regarded as a handsome boy whom many girls would turn heads for.

But the people who could participate in survival programs like this were all pretty attractive.
Even if they had normal features, their appearances would still be considered acceptable after putting on their stage outfits and makeup. 

The problem lay in the fact that this trainee from Fenghua Entertainment seemed to be very confident. 

Producer Cui Zhihao, who had a relatively warm attitude since the start of the recording, looked dull.
There was no evident expression on his face. 

He repeated the trainee’s words in a steady but cold tone, “You said your total training period was only three days?”


The trainee seemed like he was waiting for the mentors to notice this problem.
He confirmed that he was indeed a trainee for three days without restraint.

Inexplicably, he had somewhat of a superior attitude.
It was like he was saying ‘I only trained for three days.
It’s understandable if I’m bad.
But if I’m better than some of you who have trained for a long time, it would only mean that I will become very strong in the future.
So what’s the point of me working so hard?’

Yin Suli stared at this trainee for a while before slamming the ballpoint pen on the table.
She leaned back in her chair and with her eyebrows raised, she asked with seemingly great interest, “Then, what do you know?”

This simple-minded, first-time participant looked very confident.
He smiled and said, “I like singing, and the company also provided some training lessons in the basics.
I can also freestyle rap.”

“I see.” Yin Suli looked at him with what seemed to be a forced smile and didn’t make any additional comments.
She simply continued in a concise manner, “You can start your performance first.
You don’t have much history for us to discuss, after all.” 

Zhou Cun was stunned for a moment.
He seemed a little embarrassed, but also a little unwilling. 

However, he didn’t have the power to say anything.
Even if he felt suffocated, he couldn’t talk back to the senior who had debuted over twenty years ago and still enjoyed popularity.
He could only let go of the lines he had prepared for a long time and start right away.

Yin Suli’s gaze turned even colder after seeing his starting pose.

Zhou Cun simply knelt on the floor with his left hand behind his back.
His right hand held his mic up, and it seemed like he had even come up with a plotline.

However, this pose had no sense of beauty in it at all.
It was clear that he hadn’t even managed to hit the mark.  His waist was stiff and couldn’t go down completely, and his legs were shaking while waiting for the music to start.
It was obvious that he lacked exercise.

He obviously didn’t understand that he couldn’t force himself to do difficult movements as he didn’t have the ability.

The entire performance was full of awkwardness, and his movements while dancing were so stiff that he was like a zombie.
His singing was also terrible.
He couldn’t do either high or low pitches which made it even worse.

As for the rap that he said he could freestyle, in reality, even the rap portion of the song that he had prepared for in advance was a complete mess.

He seemed to have wanted to act a little wilder during the rap part, but even his face, which could be considered his only merit, also became unsightly due to his ferocious expressions.

It was obvious that even after Su Qinglan’s rap, Zhou Cun still didn’t get it.
Rap isn’t just simply being loud and doing some fierce expressions.
This was an extremely huge understanding.

After the ‘performance’ ended, the atmosphere in the entire studio fell into a strange silence.

The trainees didn’t dare to make remarks on anything casually.
They were afraid that if they commented too much and the mentors gave him praise and encouragement instead, they would get scolded harshly by the netizens.

But if they were being honest, deep down, all the trainees felt that this kind of performance was a little out of place, especially for a first stage that was of great significance.

They could even go so far as to say that it was offensive and made them feel uncomfortable.

It didn’t matter if he had no talent, didn’t perform well, or made mistakes.

If he didn’t have any skills, he could continue working hard and train to improve.
It wasn’t just him who performed poorly.

But from the attitude he showed since his first appearance, there was completely no sign of his sincerity for the stage.

What was the stage?

The stage wasn’t just an opportunity, but also a place where they could express themselves.
It was an embodiment of everyone’s blood, sweat, and tears; the bitterness that resulted from repeated failures was unknown to the audiences.
Instead, they only witnessed them gradually start to shine from that initial stumble.1It was originally just sweat, but sweat alone sounds strange so I used blood, sweat, and tears

A good stage had to go through a long polishing process.
A one-minute performance on stage takes ten years of hard work.2A good performance requires great effort Behind the scenes of every moving performance were countless days and nights of practicing. 

They must first possess the tenacity to withstand hardships for a long time.
Only then can dull gravel transform into a bright and shining pearl.

There were also many other trainees who had come to participate in this show without sufficient preparation, but their attitudes were completely different from that of Zhou Cun.
They honestly admitted that they didn’t have any strengths and would try their best to catch up to everyone else by training harder.

It was obvious that Zhou Cun was very satisfied with his earlier performance.

Or maybe it was because he was too young and hadn’t undergone training to manage his expressions.
His emotions were written all over his face as clear as day: I only trained for three days.
I’m already pretty capable for my level, so the mentors will probably praise me and say I’m talented, right?

Well, it’s clear that he thought wrong.

Producer Cui Zhihao, who hadn’t said anything too serious since the recording started, had a poker face on.
He looked at Zhou Cun seriously and didn’t make any immediate comments.
Instead, he asked him a question, “What do you think of your performance just now?”

Zhou Cun was still slightly panting from his routine.
He revealed a smile while calmly trying to take in deep breaths.

“I think it’s not bad? This song had a lot of singing and dancing, so its difficulty level was pretty high.
This song can be considered to have covered everything as there was rap in it too.
But I made a few mistakes due to my short training period.
I’ll definitely get better after more training.” 

He probably thought that he was being objective to himself as he had pointed out some of his mistakes instead of just praising himself entirely.

What was most important to him, was that his training period was short, and he had a lot of room for improvement.

Cui Zhihao showed no disappointment after listening to his answer.
He only raised his hand to rub his brows wearily.

He was at a loss for words, not knowing how to start. 

There were too many problems.
What’s most important was that Zhou Cun wasn’t aware of the most fundamental problem.
How should he even say it?

Yao Chen, who was the only one among the mentors that came from a boy group, felt the most discomfort.  He held up the mic and looked straight into Zhou Cun’s eyes.

“From being a trainee to being on my first stage, do you know how long it took me?” He asked, his tone not stern, but gentle.

Zhou Cun was taken aback by the sudden question, then he shook his head.

Yao Chen smiled, “One thousand, six hundred and forty-two days.
Exactly four-and-a-half years.”

Zhou Cun was stunned.

Yao Chen was very calm as if he didn’t view his past as something that was full of hardships, but just plainly stating a fact, “I wasn’t as fortunate as everyone here when I was younger.
There are now so many platforms and shows that allow you to have a chance of debuting after three months of training.
I went the traditional way——I signed with a company when I was thirteen-and-a-half and left home to go to Jingnan City which was half a day’s drive away.
There, I began my intensive training.”

“There would be a course every day without fail.
We’d start at eight in the morning and have a four-hour dance class with a thirty-minute break.
It would be followed by a vocal class, rap class, and posture correction class.
We even had to choose a popular foreign language to learn.
After finishing all the classes, everyone would still continue training independently out of their own free will.
The light in the practice room wouldn’t go out until it was two at night.”

“It was the same every day, every year.”

The trainees were all silent and listened to his words seriously.

Mentor Yao Chen held a bit of a nostalgic glint in his eyes.
“At that time, everything was simple.
We would only go to the practice room, classroom, and dorm.
The company wouldn’t let us use phones.
We trained hard together and sweated together.
We only had a day off every half month, but it was enough for us.
On that day, we would head out to the internet cafe, play some games, watch the concert videos of seniors who had already debuted, and visit the gift market to buy some souvenirs for ourselves.”

“We were all good brothers who trained together.
We understood each other so tacitly that we just needed a single gaze to know what the other was thinking.
Those days were fulfilling and simple, everyone had a clear goal and was trying their best to achieve it.
We often fantasized about how we would cheer and celebrate when the day comes that we finally debut.
When we got so tired to the point of collapsing on the ground, some seniors would secretly use their pocket money to buy drinks for us.”

“But sometimes, life can be very cruel.
Only after giving our all did we realize how important talent was.
All of us were originally in the same position at the starting line, but there would gradually be people who would fall behind.”

“How painful was that kind of feeling? Those who hadn’t experienced it before would find it hard to imagine.
After working so hard and persevering for such a long time, trying desperately to catch up, in the end, it was all for naught.”

“Time isn’t just a number.
Every day, every hour, every minute we endured, little by little.
I was so tired that my mind completely stopped, and we could fall asleep just from sitting and drinking two sips of water, but I would still force myself to continue dancing.  All for a dream that felt like an illusion.”

“Who hasn’t been hurt when they dance? Because there were too many trainees who suffered permanent injuries to their knees and waist during practice, there were even some people who were forced to end their dreams forever.
The blood and tears they’ve shed became all in vain in just one night.”

“Is destiny fair? It has never been.”

“All trainees have different ages and amounts of talent.
Some could work hard for two or three years but never see the tiniest chance of debuting,  and now they’re no longer young either.
Their family’s worries and pressure would overwhelm them if it was slowly unloaded.”

“I was very fortunate as I was gifted in dancing.
I wasn’t outstanding in other aspects, but I wasn’t bad either.
Most importantly, I was still young.
Those older brothers who accompanied me in growing up, trained together with me, and bought me fried noodles to eat all left one by one over time.”

Yao Chen’s smile was very gentle.
He wasn’t pointing out Zhou Cun’s shortcomings in the form of hurting his self-esteem.
Instead, he just wanted to let him know that every stage that he deemed to have worked hard on just by putting in a little bit of effort, may be an opportunity that others yearned for all their life but would never be able to get.

A lifetime of regrets, whenever one recalled it, would always be painful.

It’s not just a stage.

The stage is also a dream that many people pursue all their lives.

Whether you respect or love the stage, if you have the opportunity to stand here, don’t waste it.

Yao Chen sighed with a smile on his face.

“I only hope that all of you will learn how to cherish.”

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