I don’t think people realize how much music can mean to someone. How much words paired with melodies and harmonies can leak into someone’s soul and soothe any aches? I find that music touches you when you least expect it, same with any kind of content medium, it finds you when you need it the most.
I was fresh in my first year at University, far away on the east coast from a town that held nothing left for me. Thankfully, I made some great friends who were the ones who introduced me to a group that would be more than just some new music in my library.
They were squealing in giddiness at their new music video. It was Danger, so I became an ARMY (what BTS fondly call their fans) late 2014. I remember being sat down and “educated” on each member and their songs that were out during that time. It was fun, and I remember learning each of the seven members’ name and face and looking up the lyrics to their songs, since they were obviously in Korean. I loved the little behind the scenes (no pun intended) videos that were on YouTube, showing more of their individual personalities.
It not only bonded me to friends during my first year away at University, but also became a source of healing, inspiration, and self-love over the years.
I ended up switching Universities and went from the east coast to the west coast. I was dealing with a lot of residual emotions from my past along with treatment resistant depression, anxiety, and undiagnosed ADHD. While I loved school, and still do love the idea of somewhat structured learning, (my family likes to refer to me as a college lifer) I was extremely unhappy. My depression would worsen during the winter-times and being socially anxious made it hard to make friends and keep them as I often tended to retreat into my own space when everything seemed to feel too much.
During those times, BTS’s music was there to heal me. It seemed every era or solo mixtape/song was a spoken embrace or an anthem of solidarity. Something I could latch on too and feel like someone got me.
In 2016, Min Yoongi, known as SUGA of BTS, released under his other alias, Agust D, his own mixtape. Aptly named, Agust D, was the mixtape I had on repeat for a long time. I would sit at my desk working on essays or ideas and would feel the irritability and stress rising. Turning on that mixtape and just sitting there and listening to it with everything as loud as it could go, from start to finish, was always what I needed. By the end, I felt as if I had gone through all the emotions I needed to go through and got them out of my system enough to get back to work and feel something close to content.
In 2018, not only were the mixtapes of Jung Hoseok, or known as J-Hope of BTS, and Kim Namjoon, or RM of BTS but the Love Yourself era of BTS was at its peak.
J-Hope released Hope World, and it felt as if I could truly feel hope again. There was no false positivity, but real hope being displayed in the music. I could dance, I could breathe, I could smile, and it felt like a daydream, truly. It’s always one I turn to when I need to smile and dance out any worries.
RM’s Mono, gave similar comforting vibes. It was like you were sitting with him on a porch step, in the moonlight, with the rain falling, and he was letting you know...that it was going to be okay. That it was okay to feel like everything was falling apart, or it was okay to feel not okay. I always go back to Mono, when life feels harsh, because it’s like RM and I are sitting there in the rain, just talking, just listening, and being heard.
And within this year was of course, the Love Yourself series, a series of albums which I believe were meant to heal from the inside out anyone who listened. I may not love myself yet, but I am now aboard the plane, instead of missing my flights. I’m more inclined to be gentle with myself, than harsh. I look at all the different forms of love and smile, thinking about how beautiful the world is in its diversity.
With their new album, Map of the Soul: 7 that they released in February, I feel that their song, Black Swan, is the one I thought about a lot and resonated with me the most. The idea of “the heart no longer races when the music plays” is so crushing and very relatable to those who are passionate about something, especially within artistic fields. I, ironically, around this time had my own doubts about writing, and what if I can’t find the right words, what if the stories I’m writing no longer seem important or carry the same passion to me? It was very validating to hear this and also know that they struggle too with this.
The thing that makes their music so relatable is the fact that they don’t try to seem like anything other than themselves. They’re completely open and honest with themselves to us, with everyone. A lot of artists fear that vulnerability and they’ve come to embrace it, and even though they’re scared to admit their faults, their flaws, and their deepest fears, they do so anyways, and that’s why they’re the captivating and honest artists they are because they embrace their humanity in a way I haven’t seen from a lot of music artists.
It’s not just the music though, that makes us ARMY’s, well ARMYs. Their content they release ranging from Bon Voyages, trips they take together that are filmed, or BTS Run episodes that show them playing games, to even their lives on V-LIVE, where they just sit and talk with us, answering questions or talking about whatever is on their mind. Those tend to really showcase them at their best when you can see them laugh at a silly meme, or them talking about something really meaningful or important to them.
Their friendship and individual bonds with each other are also something that has made me change the way I view the people in my life. They have shown me what it means to have people who truly love and value you as a friend. To see such healthy, loving, and strong friendships has made me not want to settle for anything less when it comes to my own personal relationships in life.
All seven members of BTS are truly inspiring, motivating, and lovely humans. They have all actively participated in so many charities world-wide and even have their own campaign of anti-bullying and loving yourself. RM, has even made a speech on their behalf regarding this at the UN, including gender and different types of love in his speech. They also speak about climate change and talk about ways they’re going green and encourage us to do the same. (Their last album booklet was 100% green, after suggestions made by ARMY!)
Seven members of a very talented group constantly go above and beyond, or perhaps, redefine our standards of what we should accept in our life and what we should grow and cultivate as humans in our short time here on this planet.
And I know through these six years (almost seven, but I joined slightly late to the party!) that I am always trying to be a better human, a better friend, and a better listener.
Bangtan Sonyeondan, you’ve saved my life, you’ve healed me in ways that I can’t even fully comprehend, but just know that I am always grateful for your music and each and every one of you making me smile a little too wide, laugh a little too loudly and sometimes fall over (I guess I have that in common with you, Park Jimin!), and have a healthy amount of hope for once in my life.
This is my thank you, to all seven, for being here for me and every other ARMY out there.
Thank you, BTS, for being everything we need and more.
Courtney P Cook on August 26, 2020:
I agree with RM’s Mono! It calms me and makes me smile!