I laid in bed watching YouTube videos and contemplating my past decisions. It was my freshman year at UC Davis—specifically, it was May 18, 2018. Only I wasn’t on-campus living in the dorms as I had been a couple of months prior. No, I was at home lying in bed because I’d suffered a massive depressive episode which led me to take a quarter off from university. So now, there I was, home and still depressed, but at least I had YouTube. Speaking of YouTube, I had just begun searching for a new video when something caught my eye. I clicked on a video and allowed myself to relax.
The video was an interview video that Buzzfeed had done with BTS, a Korean pop group comprised of seven members. I’m still not entirely sure what drew me to click on the video. I wasn’t at all familiar with BTS at the time. I had heard of KPOP but never listened to it. However, that one video led me to a music video of theirs, which led me to another and another, and soon I was learning everything I could about this beautiful group known as BTS. With every click of a new video, my unkind words and thoughts towards myself were no longer at the forefront of my mind.
When you’re depressed, everyone says that one day the sadness you feel will go away. What will you have left once it’s gone? In my case, once the sadness went away, all I felt was numb. What they don’t tell you is that you won’t feel happy right away either. You have to create personal happiness and find a reason to want to get up in the morning. For me, BTS became a part of my reason and a source of happiness in my life.
On September 18, 2017, BTS launched a new series that has been known as the Love Yourself era. Their music discussed themes such as friendship, love, and loss. This era told the story of coming to learn to love yourself. This era would not only impact me but millions of other people across the globe who struggled to love themselves.
When I found BTS, I didn’t just find a source of happiness. I also happened to find a means of learning to love myself. It doesn’t mean that I found them and all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with love for myself. Instead, I discovered that it’s possible to learn to love yourself. It’s a process that could take a while, but it’s possible to achieve over time.
On February 19, 2019, an extension to BTS’s world tour was announced as the Love Yourself: Speak Yourself Tour. One thing I’ll always remember from the concert is how content I was at the moment. The darkness never even came close to touching me. I hadn’t felt that happy in what felt like forever. So, I guess I felt content is an understatement, but I was so happy that I couldn’t find the words to express how I felt. I still can’t.
There are moments when I’m scared. I’m scared that if happiness goes away, I will be left with nothing but this empty feeling. I think it’s the fact that I haven’t quite found it in me to love myself yet. I’m learning to, but I’m not entirely there yet. But then I think about it some more and realize that if the emptiness does come back, I won’t be completely alone anymore. I’ll have my family, I’ll have my friends, and now, I’ll have BTS.
And when I think about it now, I was drawn to BTS because I so desperately wanted to feel something again. I was drawn to the family they had together and the happiness they exuded. I was drawn to the message they were sending. Everything about them drew me in and so desperately made me want to learn to love myself. So now I’m going to try my best to follow Namjoon’s advice. I’m going to try my best to love myself.
“Please use me. Please use BTS to love yourself. Because you guys taught me how to love myself.” -RM