A/N: I found this in my Apple notes and decided to put it up so my blog wouldn’t be fully of “neggy vibes.” If you’re a fan of Kim Seokjin of BTS, enjoy. If not…I promise more content soon?
When you started this journey, a Konkuk University student (rumored 200:1 acceptance ratio for your course; that still means something) at barely-twenty, you had looks. You were the “Legend of Street Casting,” hunted down first by SM Entertainment and later by BigHit. You had money, too: rumored son of a CEO, a golden-spoon idol if there ever was one. And you had luck: there in the right place, at the right time. If you hadn’t taken that bus. If you hadn’t got off at that stop. Who knows? Who cares? What matters is the circumstances conspired to put you in the eye of someone with important eyes, and soon you were whisked away on a journey you never imagined for yourself. The boy who wanted to be a businessman, then later an actor, was going to become something else entirely: an idol.
So you had looks. And you had money. And you had luck. But, apparently, not enough, because in the eyes of the world, you didn’t luck out on enough “talent.” You weren’t talented, not to them. Just the visual. Someone to fill the ranks. A pretty face to put in front of the cameras, if the cameras ever made it his way. Invisible, because all you were meant for–at first, at least–was to be seen.
Here is what did not get seen: more than looks, more than money, more than luck, you had hunger. For actual food, of course–your appetite is legendary–but not just that. You had looks and money and luck and for other people that would be enough to coast on life but you didn’t. You could have been “just the visual”–many idols, after all, have gotten by on their stunning good looks–but that wasn’t enough for you.
You had to be good too.
And so you practiced singing, even in your sleep.You worked out to get better at dancing. You made instrumentals at 3AM for your voice coach, recorded yourself over them to show her look, see, I can do this now! Have I improved? What can I do better? You begged your producers for singing parts, bit down on every line they gave you even when–let’s all admit–the raspy, throaty growl they tried you out with was probably not the best initial choice. But you ran with it. You ran with it all. You ran full-tilt into this dream that wasn’t yours to begin with, but it had fallen into your lap and you were determined to chase it with all of who you were.
You balanced studies and the spotlight and never let anyone see you falter, not after that first show that caught you with your pants down.
And yet…the world kept saying that wasn’t enough. The world told you that you weren’t good enough. That you didn’t deserve to be where you were.
The world told you to hate yourself.
You could have, you know? You had looks and you had money and you had enough privilege that you could drop out and build a new dream elsewhere, if you wanted. But you didn’t. Instead–so you’ve told us–you stared at the mirror and decided loving yourself would be the thing you worked on next.
So you learned to call yourself handsome. You learned to blow kisses. You learned to pose for the cameras, learned to tell ridiculous jokes without flinching, learned to lie between your teeth that you thought you were the most beautiful man in the world, until if not for your red ears or embarrassed laughter, you could fool everyone, even yourself. You embraced your visual status, owned it, said yes, I may be a face, but what a face that is. Said you were acting young to look young. Said you were determined to live brightly.
Because that is what all of this was: determination.
And, underneath all that, you buried the pain, the long nights trapped in studios and practice rooms. The days-months-years of learning skills you—honestly—sucked at. The failures. The people who laughed at you, called you pig, were determined to erase you. That first television shoot–the first and only time the world would catch you with your pants down.
Then, finally, when you were given a shot, when the time was right, you dug that pain out with your two hands. You wrote it into a song, watched that song get shot down twenty times but you did. Not. Stop. Refused to stop. Demanded they give you one more shot, just one more shot.
Awake was born.
(Months later, across an ocean, a girl you will never meet heard it and read the lyrics and maybe, maybe it kept her alive long enough for her to save herself.)
After that, you kept going. You demanded the world take notice. You spoke up more. You got more lines. Your voice soared ever higher, the veins popping in your neck from the strain but you were determined. Little by little, people started to notice you more and more and had better things to say. You went from “the one who is only good for taking care of the others,” to “Worldwide Handsome.” To “heart man.” And maybe those are all gimmicks, but suddenly the world started watching, and when you knew they finally saw you, you showed them what you could do.
Triple high-notes. Harmonies. Put-your-lighters-up classic rock covers.
And so they let you kickstart this comeback. They let you take this intro, because it was rightfully your time and because, to be honest, you’ve earned it? And maybe you didn’t write the lyrics, but there’s something to be said for your company’s founder and its lead lyricist giving you these words:
I’m shaking and afraid but I keep going forward
I’m meeting the real you, hidden in the storm…
…I may be a bit blunt, I may lack some things
I may not have that shy glow around me
But this is me
My arms, my legs, my heart, my soul…
…not so perfect, but so very beautiful.
You took your struggle and turned it into a voice. You took the hate from the world and turned it into self-love. You took your weakness and you turned it into a story. And so maybe you don’t have “natural talent,” but talent can be learned. Skill acquired. But character cannot be trained, only built, brick by brick, with long nights and bulletproof skin and a relentless desire to run, just a little bit longer. You can fake it till you make it with talent, but you can’t do that with heart.
You have looks. You have money. You have luck. And—after years of training and fighting—you have skill. But, on top of that, now you have something that is, perhaps, more valuable: you have a journey. And that journey will inspire long after the songs have ended and the stage lights are off and the crowds go home for the last time.
I know, because you kept–you keep–inspiring me.
Disclaimer: Obviously, while some of what I’ve mentioned are facts, this is a creative writing exercise, so a lot of it is emotional speculation, hence “origin story” or “myth.” Take it for what it is: not an authorized biography, but a reflection on what fans project onto their idols, and what those fans take away from that projection.