Maybe you've recently seen my love and fascination for BTS and how I am proud to be part of ARMY. Or maybe you haven't but you're curious to see the reason for it all.
This blog has been sitting in my head for a while now and I felt the need to share it because I think many of us struggle with finding ourselves, finding our friends, and finding a place to "belong." Funny enough, I've never felt so welcomed by ARMY and I've managed to make connections with numerous people. Even old college friends who I talk and converse with more often! This is super awesome to me because it's pretty hard making new friends post-grad, or even at work or in school. Especially with a PANDEMIC, it's hard being around people physically. So thank you to those who have openly messaged or corresponded with me through this time, I truly appreciate it.
This is a more personal blog than my other ones, so I will be putting a disclaimer below. Enjoy the read!
Disclaimer: All events that take place in this blog are based on my personal experiences and feelings. I cannot speak on behalf of the other members involved. I will keep the identities of people involved anonymous and will neither confirm or deny who they are if you ask. If, for whatever reason, you happen to know who they are, please keep their identities anonymous.
Again, all contents in my blogs are my own thoughts, opinions, feelings, and experiences. This does not mean I am perfect nor do I claim to be. Thank you for reading the disclaimer. I hope you enjoy.
In the beginning - Time travel back to 2007
So let's look back at middle school - oh yes, we all remember middle school. What a (not) fun time. Well, this was around the time I learned about K-Pop actually. I learned about Big Bang and Wonder Girls - OG K-Pop fans know. Now, I was not a huge K-Pop stan, but I did enjoy their music and their songs were catchy. I almost bought the Wonder Girls Album but, because I'm 13 at this time, I could not, and I think my parents said no? Not sure I remember, BUT that's where it began.
Now, I was (still am) a huge anime geek - or weeaboo as they called it. So middle school was rough. I tried to be cool but I was not cool enough. Keep in mind, there was a line between K-Pop lovers and anime lovers - both were classified weirdos at the time. I remember someone called me out for not knowing "brand names," and that sort of thing sticks with you. I felt pretty unworthy. I remember getting angry at an old friend once and called her a terrible name on AIM instant messaging (IYKYK) because I felt like I was not cool enough either. So basically, I hated the idea that I was not cool enough and I was too worried about showcasing my love for anime and K-pop. I tried very hard to be cool but I let the "coolness" get ahead of me. Towards the end of 7th grade, I got called out for being too show-offy and conceited. So I thought about it and realized okay, maybe it's time for a change.
Now it's 2008
I remember returning back to middle school in our 8th grade year. I was in a weird spot with people I considered my friends. It felt odd, to be honest. Like I said, middle school is rough. At the time, I was not too fond over how my friends were acting. I tried to call out their bad behavior, but ended up getting myself out of that group, so I pulled a move and went with another group of friends. These gals were my type of people! We were weird, we loved anime and K-pop, and downright awesome - at least I thought so. I let go of trying to be cool and accepted my weirdness. We danced to Caramelldansen during lunch and talked about anime all of the time, even recommending shows to watch and manga to read. I felt more accepted here and did not feel the need to put a front.
To this day I am still close with at least 1 person in this group and am proud to call her my best friend. The other few are still good friends and acquaintances, but let's continue the story.
High School 2009-2013
So now I've hit high school, the land of amazing things. Or at least I thought so at the time!
In high school, I discovered more bands in K-Pop: SHINee, Super Junior, Girl's Generation, 2AM and 2PM - One Day, and BEAST. The older groups basically. I expanded my K-pop palette because one gal had a huge love for them. She specifically boasted about BEAST. I felt the urge to learn more about them so I can have more conversations with her. Fun fact: If someone has a huge interest in something, I do what I can to learn about said-topic so I can relate with them and overall gain insight on what they like. Keeping in mind, I already liked K-Pop, so diving deeper was something I wanted to do.
For a moment, she and I spoke about a couple members in BEAST. My favorite was Yang Yoseob 'cause he was baby. Sadly the energy did not feel reciprocated. I felt that I was not given as much admiration for liking the group or its members. As time went on, another friend of ours had liked BEAST and bought the album. Funny enough, the same individual was super ecstatic about our friend getting into BEAST. I was happy too but felt left in the shadows. I did not receive the same love or appreciation for learning more about her interest, despite the fact I was interested in it also.
I was pretty upset to be honest. Since I was not a huge fan of confrontation, I wrote her a note explaining how I felt and my grievances about the incident. If I can recall, all she said was "wow how are you so ninja by slipping that in my bag?" and maybe a "sorry." Since then, I don't think much else happened to resolve the issue.
Our senior year was also an interesting friendship year. When I look back at the interactions, I felt as if this individual and another gal did not feel inclined to hang out with me as often. Parts of me thought "why are you thinking about yourself so much" so I did not think much of it. However, the hangouts weren't as frequent and I found myself hanging out with my other (real) best friend. So things managed to work out.
Graduation happened and I thought wow high school is over! No more drama! Time for the adult world! Later on though, I remember trying to plan something with said-friends and found they removed me on all parts of social media. I was really taken back. I went through the bottom of it all and found out from our other friends that they no longer wanted to associate with me. They tried very hard convincing our other friends to leave me too. In all honesty, I was so perplexed. I felt really upset. For the longest time and I wondered what I did - personally - to these people to make them feel this way.
And as silly as it sounds, my experience with understanding and liking their genre of music has left a bad taste in my mouth. This led me to have a negative experience with K-pop sadly. This is important to note because we all participated in band and music together, so we have a strong connection through music. I put my emotions and music together, as I'm sure many of us still do.
Since then, 2013, I was not a fan of K-pop and associated negative feelings with my bad experience. Even now, as I reflect back on this, it is an experience that will stick with me. I still ponder on what I did wrong or if I was a terrible friend. Who knows.
College & Onward 2013 to 2019
So because of my experience in high school, I was not a fan of K-pop, or at least did not want to recognize it. When most of your friends are Asian and enjoy K-pop and K-dramas, you feel less inclined to support it. Although I did not personally bash people for liking it, I just thought "why?" What's great about it? Who knows how many people I bothered about my thoughts and opinions.
So that was that.
In 2017, we had a performance for our college club and I can clearly remember when I heard BTS's song "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" and thought oh cool, another K-pop song. I didn't think much of it, but it was a fun song. Fast forward to 2018 when BTS won their first Billboard Music Award for DNA. That was when I knew more about BTS. I thought it was cool that Asian Groups are getting recognized in the entertainment industry. More so K-pop was finally cool. I was not committed to the group but I knew about them and their music. I had friends who attended their music events and concerts. They looked pretty fun not gonna lie.
Since then, I would listen to their music occasionally. My little sister really loves BTS and knows about their pets and everything. I was super impressed!
2020 to Present
We got word that BTS was having a concert this year and my mom bought us tickets to go watch because she knows my sister would enjoy it. I was super excited also because I knew their concerts were fun and BTS put on a huge performance. The concert date was set for April 26th, so we still had maybe 3 months until then.
Then COVID-19 hit and all events were cancelled, even the BTS concert tour. I was pretty bummed out, because I was actually looking forward to it. However, I continued to move on and did not think much of it either.
About 2 months or so into quarantine, I found out my boyfriend looked into BTS and thought oh no! I've lost him to the K-Pop stans! Jokingly of course, I would love him regardless. When he came to visit me on the east coast, we played BTS and Blackpink nonstop. I was thoroughly enjoying it too. Soon after, he left and I had just begun my 2nd semester of nursing school.
This is going to sound so cheesy and crazy, but I was super sad about him leaving. I chose to listen to BTS songs more. Eventually, I found myself learning more about the members, their personalities, their vlogs, and everything about them. Now I adore them and find them enjoyable to listen to. They're also very relatable and I admire their themes on hard-work, positivity, self-love - everything I aspire to be.
I remember reading somewhere, you discover BTS when you feel like you're at a low point in your life. But once you find yourself loving BTS, you realize things will be okay. I'm not entirely sure how true this statement is, but there was comfort and reassurance reading that. Once I came out as ARMY, I had friends reach out to me and now we talk about BTS often and share our love for the group. I think it's totally awesome!
To sum it all up, I was inspired to write this because I watched their film BTS: Break The Silence in theaters not too long ago. When the end credits rolled, I cried. I couldn't figure out why, but I realized that there are friends and people who accept me for liking K-pop and "stanning" BTS. There's no feelings of judgement or apprehension, much like when I liked K-pop and my "friend' made me hate it. It is almost as if all of my negative feelings that I associated with liking K-pop went away and I feel at home with ARMY.
I know, that sounds so silly, but I also think about a world where others can be more accepting of each other without fear of judgement. I believe in BTS's mission to help others, to love yourself, and to do what you can during these trying times. I'm on board 120% and I look forward to more things this group has to offer the world.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading.
It is a mini expose on my feelings and thoughts regarding K-Pop. However, I'm at a point in my life where I care less about what others think of me and more so what I think about myself. Everyday I do what I can to practice self-love and show kindness towards others wherever possible.
If you're part of ARMY, I purple you for your genuine sincerity and appreciation. Hopefully we can all hang out and meet-up soon. I'm loving the fandom and happy to be here.
October 4th, 2020