How Knowing BTS Made Me Love Myself Again

I don’t think I’d be articulate enough to write this so as early as now so before I start rambling, I would like to apologize to you, a co-ARMY, who will be reading this. I know that I won’t be able to express the bulk of what I’ve been feeling through this post because I’m scared that I might turn it into a short novel but I do hope that in a way, you’d be able to still relate to it…okay…so here it goes.

Since this quarantine, I’ve been lost. Lost in a sense that I’ve never been so uncertain in my life, especially career wise. I’ve always been the woman to stick to a 9 to 5 job until about three years ago when I decided to do freelance work and at the same time, partnered in a PR, events, and brand marketing consultancy. That was a very difficult decision to make, probably my hardest. For decades, I’ve been used to getting regular paychecks, but then when I decided to be a freelancer, it rattled me. Luckily enough, I have a strong support system, most of which are friends who are freelancers from different fields reminding me to just enjoy the time that I will be managing for myself, the break that I deserve, this challenge-filled but heavily rewarding period of my life, and to just wait for the opportunities to come. My friend/business partner and I have been diligent and persistent with our consultancy that brands trusted us. We were doing fine until this pandemic hit. The thing is, it’s not only our business that got affected, it was mostly everyone’s. But I’m not here to compare my struggles to anybody, but this global shutdown just hit me hard. I’d experience nightly anxiety, strong enough not to let me sleep or powerful enough to wake me up. It was difficult especially when I try not to take any medications for it. I’d only allow myself to meditate and do proper breathing but still, it was challenging. Being uncertain about everything made me lost and sad.

So where does BTS come in and makes my day worth waking up to? I’ll get into that in a bit. Luckily enough I was able to pick myself up from the daily anxiety by trying to workout regularly and cooking, yes, I started a food business to help pay my bills. Then in August, I heard “Dynamite” and saw these seven smartly dressed guys performing live at the MTV Video Music Awards. The visuals caught my eye; the interchanging backgrounds were fun to watch. Then the song. The song that would be my morning anthem for months and would actually change my and BTS’ life in ways that all of us could never imagine. “Dynamite” was the song to start my morning and the rest of the day would be just fine.

BTS performing "Dynamite" at the MTV VMAS 2020.

I asked my friend Aisa, who’s been following BTS’ career for a time now, about these guys. Who are they? Why does one member speak fluent English? I think I even asked how old they are. Mind you, this was not the first time that I saw BTS. I saw their now legendary “On” Grand Central Station performance for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and their Carpool Karaoke with James Corden. I remember being so amazed with one member that was able to hit the high notes on Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” not knowing that it was Jung-Kook, the golden maknae. But at that time, let’s just say BTS wasn’t ready to be part of my life and vice versa. As they say timing is everything. So Aisa said to watch In the Soop, it was then their current reality show and without knowing anything more about them (just the fact that RM learned English through watching Friends), I watched the show. Like any person who wants to familiarize themselves with BTS (abbreviation for Bangtan Sonyeondan, which means Bulletproof Boy Scouts in English), I first wanted to connect the faces with the names. That’s a running joke for all who’s still about to enter the BTS rabbit hole. “I just wanted to know their names!” and next thing you know, you already have a permanent address in said hole. Another friend told me that once you’re in the BTS rabbit hole, the fandom is going to be from 0 to a 100. Although that wasn’t the case for me, I’ve been enjoying every moment analyzing and reanalyzing everything Bangtan Sonyeondan.

BTS in the forest. They recorded this reality show during the pandemic since their world tour got cancelled.

Aside from “Dynamite,” In the Soop was the BTS content that got me hooked with these seven KPop idols. Watching them doing household chores, having fun on what seemed to be at a work / vacation environment (they were being recorded for a reality show so it’s still work), and slowly realizing the magnitude of who they are and the impact that they will do to my life. I still didn’t listen to any BTS song up until episode three of ITS. I went back to that “On” performance at the Grand Central Station and from there, I decided to listen to the entire Map of the Soul: 7 album on Spotify. Map of the Soul: 7 is my favorite BTS album and the first album of BTS that I bought. It’s just flawlessly produced; packed with songs sounding so differently from one another and yet having the same likeable appeal to me. “Walang tapon”– always my go-to expression to describe an album that I’d like from start to finish.

I surprised me. I never thought me, a woman in her 40’s known to lean towards rock as her musical preference, would learn how to appreciate and love songs that she couldn’t instantly understand. Of course, I would seek help from Google to look for English translations of every BTS song that I’d encounter and love to know that these are not just basic lyrics from men in their 20s but from men who clearly have something to say about their hardships, on not losing hope, appreciating yourself, valuing life, and always moving forward. BTS as a whole turned out to be such a good vibe generator for me that I workout to their songs, try to dance to it at times (keyword is “try” hahaha). Theirs is my current go-to music.

At the Grand Central Station NY with The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon
At the Grand Central Station with The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon

I slowly made BTS part of my routine. I listen to their music and watch content after content every day; trying to keep up because they release something new on a daily. But I love the pace that I’m in; I’m not so much in a hurry. I also love connecting with co-ARMY friends who have, as my friend Kim would put it, reached an age that stopped trying to be cool. I realize that every member of BTS makes me happy. Every day I find more reasons to like each one of them. My bias is Seokjin, the eldest and still acts as if he’s the fourth maknae (youngest sibling) in the group. I recently watched the recent episode of Run BTS, their longest running variety show, and that episode made me realize how big-hearted he truly is.

The best hyung Kim Seokjin

For the past weeks, BTS have released a mini album called BE, nominated for a Grammy, have songs at the Billboard charts, non-stop live performances and guestings, basically breaking one record after another. And this coming from a seven-year-old group from South Korea, that never stopped dreaming, making things happen, and appreciating everyone who helped them along the way. So, ask me again how they make my day worth waking up to? They have made me realize that nothing is impossible and that being able to open your eyes to take that first glimpse of sunlight means that there’s a new day ahead to again challenge yourself while being kinder to yourself. And just like any other ARMY, I’m looking forward to watching them perform live after the dust settles but until then, I’ll be enjoying the company of their music everyday and continue to cheer them on.

“You gave me the best of me, so you’ll give you the best of you
You’ll find it, the galaxy inside you.”
Magic Shop, BTS