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In honor of BTS’s Love Yourself: Speak Yourself tour, I wanted to share how BTS came into my life and changed me for the better—how they taught me how to love myself. I know the members probably hear it from fans a lot, but I wanted to add my voice into the mix to let them know just how much they have influenced me and my life.
I’d like to also invite you to do the same! Let’s try to make this reach all the way to BTS so they see just how many people they have touched with their music.
When posting your BTS story on social media, please use these hashtags: #MYBTSSTORY, #LOVEYOURSELF, and #SPEAKYOURSELF so that our stories will be easy to find online!
Please share with your friends and followers so that as many people as possible can join in if they’d like to!
BTS. The one band that probably doesn’t even need an introduction, at this point. They have skyrocketed into success, and it is absolutely insane to see how quickly they have risen and to see how much love and support they have garnered in such a short time. But it more than just their music, flashy videos and performances, and outrageously good looks that captivate fans.
BTS was the first group that not only pulled me into the magical world of K-Pop, but they were also the first to encourage me to develop an emotional connection to this music—and because of that they will always hold a very, very special place in my heart. You’ve probably heard this a million times from a million other people, but maybe that in itself says something about the kind influence these boys have.
I ran across a post online once—I can’t remember where now, but it said: “You find BTS when you need them the most.” And before I had experienced it myself, I would’ve chalked this up to one of those silly coincidence things that people just run with and turn it into some widespread thing that people want to be a part of. But in my personal experience, this notion has rung truer than I could have ever imagined it to be.
Get ready, because it’s story time. My BTS origin story.
It was the end of junior year of college, and I was struggling. I wasn’t happy in my classes, I wasn’t happy with my writing (I was a Creative Writing major), and I wasn’t happy with what I was doing with my life. The environment that I was in at the time was making me feel worthless, undeserving, and just not good enough—and I was starting to believe it. The people who were supposed to be encouraging me were actually just sucking every ounce of passion I had for my work out of me, and I had begun to hate it, to hate everything about where I was, what I was doing, and what I was learning.
I hit a wall. More than a wall—a barricade. And I hit it hard. To the point where I found myself sleeping more often than not. I’ve known for a while now that my body’s defense system against stress and anxiety is to sleep. But this was more like my body trying to shut down. Like it had just given up. I would go to sleep at night and not wake back up until five or six the following evening—having slept through every single alarm, missed every single class, and not eaten anything. This went on for maybe two weeks, and I don’t remember much of it. I have short, indistinct memories of my roommate coming in to wake me up and ask if I had eaten or if I wanted to go to dinner. But I rarely had an appetite or the energy to join her. I would go right back to sleep when she left.
As a result of this, I fell very far behind in my classes. At this point in the semester, finals were approaching and I had started to panic. Thankfully, most of my professors took pity on me and allowed me to do what I could to make up the work I had missed, and still prepare for my finals—which the majority were papers and creative writing portfolios because I had a schedule of nothing but English and writing classes.
Unfortunately, one of my professors deemed it too late for me to make anything up. There were no hard feelings in this, I straight up asked him if it would even be worth it to submit a final paper. He told me no, that even if I made an A on the final paper, I wouldn’t make anything above an F. So, I steeled myself to take that grade.
It was the first class in my entire academic experience I had ever outright failed. I was angry with myself for falling so far behind and, most aggressively, for being so weak that my body felt like it didn't have any other choice but to break down in the first place. I felt weak, stupid, unworthy, and devastated—to the point where I almost dropped out. I almost called my family and told them to come get me, and I didn’t plan on going back.
This was the spring of 2015. The same spring that my best friend got me into listening to K-Pop. To listening to BTS, to be specific. When I first started listening to K-Pop, I hadn’t completely fallen down the hole—yet. I listened to it a bit on Spotify here and there (rummaging through Spotify’s extremely sparse inventory of K-Pop music at the time), but that was about it. I had held my ground against her since my junior year of high school, and even though BTS had been the ones to catch my eye enough to attract my attention, I was still pretty keen on taking it slow.
It was in the midst of this that I experienced that depressive episode.
Days after I had finally emerged from my episode, when I was scrambling to get myself together and do what I could to save my grades, "Spring Day" was released and my world changed. "Spring Day" dragged me down into “The Hole,” the one that you don’t escape from once you start falling—and I became utterly captivated by them. I saw BTS (and K-Pop in general, for that matter) in a completely different light. I loved that song so much that I would listen to it on repeat all day long. The same four minutes and 31 seconds over and over and over again. It was what I listened to when I was getting ready in the mornings, what I listened to when I ate lunch, while I was walking to and from class and work, and what I listened to when I studied and wrote my papers. That song was the only reason why I could focus enough to push myself through weeks of makeup work while also studying and writing eight- to 12-page papers for finals. That song helped soothe me enough to be able to come to terms with the fact that I had just officially failed my first college class.
So, I understand exactly what it means when ARMYs claim that you find BTS when you need them the most—because even if I didn’t realize it back then, I did find them when I needed them the most. To this day, I don’t know exactly what it was that triggered the depressive episode that I had, but I do know that I can wholeheartedly say that "Spring Day" healed me when I came out of it.
And it goes even further than that. Because of this newfound interest in BTS, I dove deeper into K-Pop, and through K-Pop, I fell in love with Korean culture and language. And because I had fallen in love with Korean culture, it opened my eyes to the possibilities I never had before me.
As I mentioned, I had begun to hate everything I was doing. I had lost my passion for writing, to the point where it made me nearly sick to my stomach to try and write anything at all. Because of this, I had lost all interest in my original career goal, which was to pursue a career in the publishing field as an editor. I felt nauseous even looking at publishing internships—which I would have had to begin preparing for very soon. I realized that if this kept up, if I couldn’t snap out of it and get myself back on track, I wouldn’t have a plan anymore. I wouldn’t know what I was going to do after graduation. And that was more terrifying to me than anything else.
Teaching English abroad had been an idea that crossed my mind when I was in high school, but back then, I had only had my eye on Japan. But, still being in high school, I realized that I would need to at least have a four-year degree before this dream could be realized, so I kind of pushed it aside, and eventually forgot about it when the publishing career became something I could prepare for with my degree.
But by then, I had hit the point where even editing was repulsive to me. It was then that this idea came back to me with a newfound passion, and I started looking into teaching English in South Korea. Now, two years later, I’ve graduated from the same college that I almost dropped out of, obtained a TEFL certification, and have applied to teach English in South Korea.
And it all started with one BTS song coming along when my life was falling apart at 22 years old. BTS helped inspire me to find out how to write for myself again, to find joy in it, and to find the little pieces of my soul that my experiences in college had ripped away from me. Losing my passion for writing—which had been rooted so deeply into who I was, my identity, and how I lived my life and perceived the world—was like losing a piece of myself, of my soul. BTS helped me grow a new piece where the previous had been severed. That new piece was so warm and so full of love and light that it bloomed into something much bigger—its roots stretching to intwine with others, until it had transferred nearly all of its goodness to almost every piece of me.
That doesn’t mean that they’ve completely cured me of my darkness, by any means. But they have made it much easier to accept my darkness, to explore it in the hopes of understanding it without allowing it to consume me, and finally, to learn how to begin loving it as it is a piece of who I am.
They provided support and encouragement—indirect, albeit, but when you’re in such a dark place that you’ve forgotten what light and warmth is, all light looks and feels the same, no matter distant it may be. Through the community that surrounded them and through the music they so wholeheartedly produced, they provided me with the one thing I didn’t know I had lost: Hope.
In a way—to be the CHEESIEST NERD ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET—BTS really did help me achieve the message they have been spreading over these past years: They helped me learn how to love the pieces of myself again.
Again, I would like to invite you to share your BTS story! It doesn’t have to be as long as this, by any means. Even if you don’t want to tell the whole story, I’d like to create an opportunity for fans to express just how much BTS means to them and/or how they’ve helped them. It’s important to us as fans, but it’s also important to BTS. They take such care in creating content that is meaningful and have said on multiple occasions that they want to be of help to people. Let’s come together and show them just how much they’ve helped us. <3
Please use these hashtags when posting your story online so that all of our stories will be easy to find!
P.S. Come chat with me on Twitter! Link in my bio.