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The Life Lessons I Learnt From My Favourite K-Pop Group: BTS

Trigger warning: suicidal ideation

Its been seven or eight months since I posted my first article on this platform, and I am glad to get so much appreciation. When I had written that article, I was burning in my own pain and that was what I wrote down.

But, after so long I am here to share my feelings about how apart from self-love, BTS has been teaching me so many things that I never thought of.

Earlier I had talked little about BTS and more about their ‘love myself’ campaign in partnership with UNICEF, but here I will talk about their lives and how they have affected me to be myself more and more.

BTS talk 'Dynamite' No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit and thank Army fans
BTS members during the promotion of their English single, Dynamite. Photo credit: AFP Photo, Big Hit Entertainment.

My Introduction To BTS

I had heard the name ‘BTS’ for the first time in June 2020. I listened to their hit song “Boy With Luv”  around the same time. I became a casual part of the BTS ARMY and later, I became a hardcore member of it, by the end of October 2020.

Since then I have learnt a lot about these seven Korean boys, and in the process, I have learnt a lot about myself too. The acronym BTS stands for 방탄소년단 (Bangtan Sonyeondan) in Korean, which means ‘bulletproof boy scouts’ in English.

In an interview, BTS member j-hope had revealed that they are bulletproof because they want to protect the youngsters and youths from all the bullets that are targeted on them by the society.

The name of their fan base or fandom is ARMY, which is also an acronym for adorable representative for MC of youth.

ARMY basically represents the youth generation and they are the ones who will protect BTS at any cost. From my personal experience I can say that both the above-mentioned meanings are true to their names.

ARMY Matches BTS' $1M Donation to Black Lives Matter in 24 Hours | by Research BTS 🔍 | Medium
The fandom of the K-pop group BTS is known as the ARMY. Representational image.

BTS produces music which actually breaks some established norms, such as most of the earlier K-pop songs used to focus on love and relationships. They didn’t have a story to tell.

But, since their pre-debut days, BTS makes songs on the problems of the education system, their wishes and ambitions, depression, mental health, growth from youngsters to adult, self love, women empowerment etc., and even includes a parallel universe in their music.

This is one of the reasons which makes this K-pop group different from the others.

BTS Members Mean What They Say

Well I became a part of the ARMY, at first, it was because of their looks and choreography. But I fell in love with them due to their lyrics and the messages contained within.

I didn’t mention it in my previous article, but due to my relationship problems I had suicidal ideation in the month of October. Actually the way “love” is portrayed in our culture and cinema as a bond of purity and sacrifice, I had loved my ex-boyfriend in that way.

I had given my entire self to him in such a way that I had erased myself completely. Even when I struggled mentally, I didn’t tell him anything just because of the notion that love needs “sacrifice”. Moreover, my ex boyfriend took full advantage of my innocence and manipulated me in every possible way.

At that point of time, I got introduced to another hit track by BTS: Fake Love. It’s from their 2018 studio album, Love Yourself: Tear. I had my CCT exams after Durga puja and I felt like listening to some Indian Classical music.

Soon, I got bored and then I decided to listen to some BTS songs. While giving the exams, I was sometimes even checking the lyrics, and at that point of time I saw the pre-chorus lyrics of Fake Love.

It said: “Love you so bad, love you so bad, mould a pretty lie for you. Love you so mad, love you so mad, trying to erase myself and make me your doll.”

These lines literally shook me from inside, and just by listening to the pre-chorus, I realized that it had been always fake love and nothing else.

Finally, I gave up my thoughts on attempting suicide. I never expected that a K-pop group would save me, support me and hug me when I was totally alone and wanted to die.

BTS (방탄소년단) 'FAKE LOVE' Official MV - YouTube
A scene from the music video of the song ‘fake love’. Photo credit: bangtantv, YouTube.

Since then, I explored about their love myself campaign and took inspiration from it. I wrote my first ever article to get published on an online platform. Before publishing my previous article, I actually used to hide my painful past and then present from everyone.

I still remember when I was crying in my online library class, explaining the pain I had to our library teacher and my fellow classmates. I used to face a lot of criticism from my non-ARMY friends for being so much obsessed with BTS, but none of them knew about my struggles; and how these seven Korean boys became my angels.

In my 9-10 months of ARMY life, I have consumed a lot of BTS content like: Run BTS!, Break the Silence: The Movie, their music videos, some of their albums etc.

I have been also a part of their four comebacks: BE (deluxe edition) released on November 20, 2020; Film Out released on April 1, 2021; butter released on May 21, 2021; and permission to dance on July 9, 2021.

I also have social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Weverse and Vlive for keeping up with BTS updates and communicating with the ARMY across the globe. We have streaming goals, comeback plans, members’ birthday celebration plans and so many things.

Well, what I mentioned here is done by every hardcore ARMY member, on a regular basis. But now I will come to the actual topic of this article, after explaining almost everything about BTS and their fandom: ARMY.

What has the BTS taught me as a member of their ARMY, a human, a student, a teenager, and all the other roles I play in my life.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

When BTS’ documentary film, Break the Silence: The Movie, was released in December, our whole fandom was so excited that it became a hot topic. I also watched the movie, and this documentary introduced me to the real Bangtan.

It was based on their 2019 ‘love yourself, speak yourself’ world tour, where they traveled to about 13 countries including USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Brazil etc. for their ‘love yourself’ trilogy series.

They even performed in the famous Wembley Stadium, where The Queen had performed their hit song: bohemian rhapsody. However, even after so much success and fame, BTS opened up about their raw and vulnerable emotions.

The movie was all good for me till j-hope said that he doesn’t even know how he would introduce himself, when he is no longer a BTS member… probably as: “Hello, I am Jung Hoseok” (j-hope’s birth name).

This one line kept troubling me for a couple of weeks, because this line meant that one day BTS will no more be BTS. Since I was a toddler ARMY member at that time, I never wanted them to disband just because they will not be able to dance, sing or perform.

I even searched the whole of the Internet about how to stop BTS from disbanding in the future. It really hurt me to even think about them getting disbanded because they are the reason I am alive today.

But I don’t know how I overcame this fear of seeing them getting disbanded. I can’t remember clearly, but once I had watched a video where BTS member Jimin said that one day the most beautiful moments of life will end. It really made me realise that its impossible for anything to last forever.

So, the first thing I learnt from BTS is:

One day everything will have to end, even if it means you gave your whole life to someone, because where there is a beginning, there will be an ending too.

I Learnt That It’s Okay To Cry

I think we all know this phrase “mard ko kabhi dard nahi hota” (men can never experience pain ). Well, this phrase is really popular in India, especially in our cinemas where the male protagonist is shown as muscular, rich, powerful, and as someone who doesn’t cry.

If I were to say the truth, then this phrase is common among my friends also. For example, in a jovial way, we say these words to each other. It’s just for fun and sometimes its okay to have fun, but the problem arises when movie lines like these actually become social rules and regulations.

Let’s take an example to understand this more clearly. How many times have we seen the boys in our classes crying or getting emotional or behaving in a really good manner (by good, I mean in a very polite way, which seems adorable sometimes)?

At least I, have never seen the boys of my class crying in front of everyone. Does it mean that boys don’t have emotions or feelings? Its a completely wrong notion, to say the least. Our male counterparts are also humans, so naturally sometimes they also want to cry.

But as I mentioned, there’s a notion in our society that boys can’t experience pain and therefore, they can’t cry.

8 Stereotypes Created by Films - DesiMartini
One of the most toxic norms of masculinity is that men are considered invulnerable. Photo credit: MARD.

All of us talk about feminism and women’s rights, but sometimes, we forget that men don’t have access to all their human rights either. Getting emotional or crying is one of them. In my childhood, I had never seen any man crying, so I thought that they are emotionless creatures.

But in my teenage years, I have seen the silent struggles of my male counterparts. I can’t remember it clearly anymore, but once, in secondary school, I had seen one of my male friends getting emotional over something. He was trying to hide it just because of the fear of our “social” norms.

There was another boy in our class, who had some sort of a developmental disability. His manners and behavior were so childish and polite that even our teachers used to make fun of him. He was too good and polite for this cruel world. He would greet everyone, including the sweepers, in the morning.

I really liked his persona, but never had the courage to stand for him. Maybe, everyone thought of him as “girly”. I felt shame in standing up for him. Boys actually can’t cry, and it’s a sad truth for me.

In our movies, it is shown that whenever a man cries, some random person comes and says,”Ladkiyon ki tarah kyu ro raha hai tu? Mard hai tu aur mard rote nahi hai (why are you weeping like a girl? You are a man and a man doesn’t cry).”

Even when someone dies in a movie, it is usually the girls who are seen weeping, not the boys. But that doesn’t mean that they are emotionless. They are just not allowed to cry.

This notion can be extended to “toxic feminism”, which has been spreading like a forest fire. Due to the rise of feminism in our society, women and girls are expected to be strong so that no one can torture them.

I still remember that I used to cry to the extent that everyone in my class gave me the name rotlu (crybaby), but this changed during teenage. After going through all the struggles, especially in 2020, I never knew how to cry. I didn’t cry because it would made me look and feel weak like a “girly” girl who always cries.

The change, of course, took place after meeting BTS in a new way in the last year. In contrast to the social norms, all the BTS members show their raw emotions and feelings, either through their daily life or music. Its hard for me to put BTS’ thoughts in this regard in words, but I will try my best.

Mental Health Matters

BTS openly talks about depression, anxiety, mental and physical exhaustion, and the burn out they face. They talk about their mental and emotional struggles and how these things had broken them from inside. In his 2016 debut mixtape, Agust D, BTS member Suga showed his true self, far from the limelight of being an idol.

His song, the last, talks about his continuous bouts of depression and social anxiety and how he had suicidal thoughts… but he didn’t give up. He went to the psychiatrist with his parents and thus, defied the social norm of not crying or appearing weak.

Another member, Jin, had dropped his solo song, abyss, before his 28th birthday, on December 3, 2020. In that song, he talked about his depression and burnout after the release of their hit song, Dynamite, in the later part of 2020. He doubted if he deserved all the success he was getting, and he was lost in the sea of his own thoughts.

It had gotten so bad that he even thought of quitting his career. But, he didn’t fear and took medical counselling and came up with the song, abyss.

BTS have many songs like blue & grey, magic shop, 2!3! etc. talking openly about depression and the will to overcome it. There are also songs like sea, interlude: shadow, I am fine, butterfly, black swan etc., where they are expressing their deepest, darkest and most vulnerable fears.

Apart from these songs, they have openly talked about their fears in many interviews. They are also seen crying during concerts, world tours and acceptance speeches, which is against the social norm “mard ko dard nahi hota”.

BTS have got many haters for being vulnerable about themselves. Many “antis” hurled sexist and homophobic slurs at them, but these things never stopped them from being vulnerable and true about their insecure feelings.

In this world of toxic masculinity and toxic feminism, they are the role models who broke the stereotypes made by our “developed” society.

Pin by ♡᭙꠸ꪀꪻꫀ᥅ ᥇ꫀꪖ᥅♡ on Collages | Bts jungkook, Bts cry, Bts vkook
BTS members crying during their MAMA 2018 Artist of the Year acceptance speech.

This attitude of BTS has helped me the most, nowadays. I was an extrovert in my childhood and had a lot of friends. I had big birthday parties and a lot of excursions. Moreover, I was really talkative, to the extent that everyone was worried about my talkativeness.

You Don’t Need To Have A Reason To Be Depressed

But, everything changed all of a sudden. It was like a sudden storm of hardships in my simple life. After facing so much, I became a reserved introvert. I am still an outgoing person, but I am very insecure about many things, even myself too. I had become emotionless and had the fear of getting weak by showing my pain.

I am glad to have found BTS during these hard times. After my breakup in 2020, I was so emotionally numb that I became totally quiet, but watching a lot of BTS videos on YouTube made me cry. At the end of every video, I used to cry a lot. They really helped me to get all my pain out.

Afterwards, everyone got to know about my struggles and painful past via my previous article, except my teachers and family. Many still ignore these facts, but I don’t care now, since not everyone is going to understand my pain. Apart from emotional struggles, I have many mental health issues too.

I have depression and mental struggles every week or month, and there’s no exact reason for this. During this time, an online article was published by Weverse and BTS about depression and mental struggles. It talked about abyss by Jin and blue & grey by BTS.

Naturally, it talked about how a lot of people struggle with depression. But, the thing which caught my attention was that sometimes there’s just no reason for having depression. Since I am very much vulnerable to these things, it gave me strength. So, whenever I feel depressed, I share it with my close friends and give myself time to heal.

I can’t access medical treatment yet, because when I told my parents about my depression, they just ignored it. They said, “You have money, dresses and everything else, so why will you have depression?” I never expected them to take care of my mental health, so there’s only BTS with me during my dark times.

Their songs like paradise, 00:00, magic shop etc. helped me heal. Though I am a very reserved introvert, I always talk about my emotions and pain openly so that I am relieved of this burden. I might not have gotten this courage if BTS wouldn’t have been there for me.

Through them, I realized that being vulnerable about my emotions is really brave. This leads us to the second thing I learnt from BTS:

I have the right to be vulnerable about myself and my emotions, and it is an act of bravery, not weakness.

The World Is A Global Village Now

We all are living in the era of globalization, where our earth has became a large village connected by the Internet and trans-cultural phenomenons. We consume different types of national and international products on a daily basis, and it is very common even among the people of rural areas too. We are all global citizens and multilingual too.

I am a multilingual person myself, who can speak Bengali, Hindi, Oriya, English and a little bit of Korean. Moreover, we are more aware of the culture and heritage of other countries than  the people from previous decades, and this has led us to be more curious about many things.

The global phenomenon of sharing our culture, traditions, cuisine, heritage and music with other countries is really healthy for our overall development. It makes us aware of our beautiful neighbor countries, its people, and most importantly, it helps us to acknowledge and appreciate the diversity we have around us.

The last aspect is the most important one since acknowledging others prevents us from being racist and xenophobic. That’s why we consume pizza, bulgogi (Korean barbeque), spaghetti, tacos, listen to K-pop, J-pop (Japanese pop), Latin music; and wear a hanbok, kimono, jeans, sweatshirts etc.

But this unity in diversity around the globe has led to some major problems, especially among the youngsters.

India was a major British colony till about a 100 years ago, so we have inherited many things from them like the English language, drinking tea in our daily lives, ball dancing, elite attires, and most importantly, their culture and heritage.

But apart from the British influence, our country has been influenced by many different cultures for thousands of years. India has never attacked any country since its existence, but has rather welcomed and applied different cultures.

For example, Macedonian, Greek, Arabian, Persian, Mongolian, French, Portuguese, Chinese cultures, to name a few.

English Gained Prominence At The Cost Of Local Languages

All these influences over the years have shaped India to a very large extent. After independence, the use of English language has been promoted, since many non-Hindi speaking states wanted it as a medium of communication.

This step led to the flourishing of the rich, elite and English speaking upper class.

Thus, many English medium institutions were opened. Nowadays, it has became a trend to send one’s children to the English medium schools so that their “standard” is maintained.

This is where all the problems start. Children like me who study in English medium educational institutions tend to neglect our indigenous culture more and more.

In my school, we have only English as our main language. On the other hand, we have to choose between Hindi and Sanskrit, which actually disregards our culture.

Though I am from West Bengal and live there, I never got the opportunity to learn about my mother tongue, Bengali, since the day I left my nursery school.

Due to my interest, I have learnt a lot of Bengali by myself, but still there are many friends of mine who just don’t know about our mother tongue or even the Bengali culture.

Actually, we have this false “pride” about speaking in English, listening to English songs, wearing expensive dresses etc.; and more specifically, we like bragging about these temporary things.

We are now far away from our culture and indigenous languages. If you can’t agree then answer this question of mine: in which script is Hindi written and what about Bengali? You will understand by yourself what I mean.

“I Am A Living Korean Encyclopedia”

Though I have always loved and respected our culture, even I became a bit distanced from it. I am a part of the BTS ARMY so naturally, I am affected by “hallyu” to a great extent.

The term hallyu means Korean wave in English. Since K-pop and K-drama are ruling the global entertainment scene, the K-pop and K-drama “stans” are now head over heels for Korean culture, heritage and cuisine.

If I take myself as an example, I can tell anyone about Korea and its significance. There are two scripts for Korean language, the most popular one is Hangul and the older one is Hanja.

The latter uses traditional Chinese characters, whereas Hangul was invented by a king from the Joseon dynasty, in 15th-16th century AD.

Through various articles and BTS songs, I have learnt a lot about reading and writing Hangul. In the traditional dressing scene, hanbok is the most popular attire for Koreans. It is similar to the kimono of Japan, but different and beautiful in its own way.

In terms of cuisine, kimchi is the most popular Korean dish out there, along with bulgogi, bibimbap, jjangmyeon, japchae etc.

Kimchi is a banchan (side dish) which can be understood as a Korean pickle made with napa cabbage, radish, burdock or any other vegetable, along with gochugaru and other traditional condiments.

You can say that I have became a living Korean encyclopedia.

Traditional kimchi recipe (Tongbaechu-kimchi: 통배추김치) - YouTube
The most famous side dish of Korea, the baechu kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi).

In this obsession over hallyu, I was reading about the Hangul script, Korean national anthem and other related things. I even posted about seollal (Korean lunar new year) on my SNS account, but I don’t know how this thing suddenly hit my mind.

I Need To Learn About My Own Culture

I had a thought that I know about the scripts of Korea and Japan, but never bothered to learn about the script of my mother tongue, Bengali. Isn’t it an insult to my own language and culture?

This thought of mine led to some other thoughts. Since the time BTS have broken into the American music market, many English-speaking people and critics urged the members to make music in English.

Many probably wanted them to move to the US from South Korea. But BTS neither left their motherland nor made music in English.

All the members: RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook, are native Koreans. They belong to Ilsan, Gwacheon, Daegu, Gwangju and Busan, which are different Korean provinces and cities.

The only three English songs by the group are dynamite, butter and permission to dance. They even use traditional, Korean music instruments like kkwaenggwari, daegeum, gugak etc.

In their hit single, idol, they wore hanboks, used traditional Korean music and folk dance, to prove to the critics that they love themselves and that they are proud of their culture.

They are even ready to enlist themselves for the mandatory military service whenever they are called for it, because they love their country a lot.

All these things made me realize that loving other cultures is good, but in that process, my own culture shouldn’t be neglected by me at any cost.

Now I know that both Bengali and Assamese are written in the abugida brahmic script and there’s a sense of pride I have about knowing my mother tongue. This wouldn’t have been possible without the honest feelings of BTS about their native culture. Thus, the third thing I have learnt from BTS is:

I need to love, understand and respect my native culture in order to embrace other cultures; just like I need to love myself first to love others later.

I Have A Special Relationship With Cooking

Like most Indian teens, I had learnt dance and art. I have been learning music since my childhood. Until primary school, I took lessons on odissi (one of the eight, major Indian classical dances).

I had to leave it because my dance teacher got injured and my mother decided to put a permanent stop to my dancing, due to my studies.

I was taking painting lessons too. Individually, at first, and then as one among a group of painting students.

Everything was going well with my painting classes, but in my 9th standard I felt so much pressured and stressed that I gave up on art classes, after appearing for my second year painting exam.

If I were to say the truth, somewhere, my ego was hurt. I wasn’t that great at painting. Hence, my teacher and group mates used to make fun of me and my paintings a lot.

But I never left music because it is my only refreshment. I am taking music lessons on rabindra sangeet (music composed by gurudev Rabindranath Tagore) and Indian classical music since I was in the first standard.

As of now, I am a fourth year student of rabindra sangeet and a first year student of Indian classical music.

But there’s one hobby of mine in which I take immense pride in, and that is cooking. Now, every Indian woman is supposed to learn at least some basic cooking, for “satisfying” her in-laws in the future, but neither my mother nor my father ever told me to learn.

I got automatically attached to cooking and cuisines. Whenever I get to know that a temporary kitchen has been set up, I immediately go there and carefully watch what is being cooked there.

For example, during Durga puja, communal eating is organised every year from soshthi to doshomi (sixth to tenth days of the puja).

Earlier, all the meals were cooked in an old building. I used to go there and continuously watch how they were preparing everything. Also, in due time, I learnt to cook a variety of dishes like biryani, pulao, rolls, ramyeon (noodles), spaghetti, pizza, dosa, uttapam, bulgogi etc.

When everyone praises me for my excellence in culinary skills, it really makes me genuinely happy and proud. Like me, almost all the teenagers across the globe have numerous passions about many things.

Some are good at singing, some are good at dancing, while some are interested in gardening.

We can extend this notion to the adults too, because they also have an inner child within them. But the problem is, not all of us are aware of these talents and the passion within us.

We are all busy engaging in our studies, jobs and occupations, so much that we literally forget ourselves and our interests.

I Need To Appreciate Myself

What I said above applies to me completely. I was the topper of my class in the eighth standard, with an overall percentage of 97. I was really happy with my performance. Everyone was congratulating me, but all these things were temporary pleasures.

Since my childhood, I have had more than five tuition classes each year, but this wasn’t bad till I was in primary school. When I entered secondary, everything paused for me. I didn’t get the opportunity to go outside after I reached home from school.

I didn’t have the time to sleep, and I was totally exhausted, both mentally and physically, by all the tuition classes, assignments and homework.

I still remember that once, when I was in the ninth standard, I dropped my Math tuition and started to cry, because I was totally fed up of the same hectic schedule. I used to watch all my neighbours and friends hanging out together, and it saddened me even more.

In the ninth standard, my marks deteriorated, especially in Math. Now that I have finished my tenth standard, I am still stuck in my house.

The situation seems worse. In the monthly tests and pre-boards, my results were not “satisfactory” for my parents, even though I did much better than the ninth standard.

During my first pre-boards, my mother scolded me a lot and I felt really guilty. I used to cry whenever I was alone. I was far away from all my hobbies. I used to keep solving question papers from the previous year, sample papers, and attending all my online tuition classes.

I had the worst depressive episode of my life before my math pre-board examination. As usual, I tried my best but since my mental health was at its worst, my marks remained the same.

Just like me, many teenagers have to cope with a lot of stress and finally, we give up on our passions and hobbies.

Young people undergo a lot of stress when juggling multiple commitments. Representational image. Photo credit: airtract.com

BTS came to my rescue, yet again. When I was down due to my marks in the first pre-boards, some very beautiful words by BTS member Jin kept revolving in my head.

Once, he had said that we should always acknowledge and appreciate ourselves no matter what. It really hit hard. I knew that I worked hard, but didn’t appreciate my effort.

After that, I don’t care about my marks so much. My other classmates are champions in academics, and that’s totally fine because I am good in my own space.

Moreover, no one is going to recognise my efforts, so I need to do it for myself. As for my hobbies and passions, they have been touching the sky, nowadays.

I Was Trying To Be A Good Girl

In my earlier years, as an amateur chef, I used to cook all the time. I would make something delicious for myself and my family everyday, but that was not good at all. By good I mean, that habit wasn’t good for me. Even when I felt anxious or mentally down, I cooked something.

My mood directly reflected on my dishes. But today, that has changed a lot. Now, I cook only when I am happy or cheery, not when I am down. Earlier, I used to put pressure on myself for my culinary skills, but now I do it only for myself. I have revived my passion for cooking again.

A bit earlier, I mentioned that I used to take classes for dancing and painting, but gave up on them. Now I feel it was good for me. Whenever I had to fill up my school diary, I used to write dancing and drawing as my hobbies, but now I realise that they were never my hobbies. They were societal pressures on me which needed to be fulfilled for being a “good” girl.

I have taken to contemporary dancing, nowadays. I don’t paint anymore. Instead, I have got two more hobbies I do by myself, without any training or tuition. In the eighth standard, writing was introduced as a part of the writing section in our English literature.

The topic of our first article writing class was about examinations and I did really well. Our English teacher was so impressed that she even called the topper of the other section to take a look at my content. Before that, I had never ever written or even heard of article writing, so it just happened automatically.

Then, in our summer vacation, our teacher asked us to write an article on harassment in about 400-500 words. I was the only one who did the assignment, and our teacher was really happy with my writing. Since then, I have fallen in love with the art and excellency of article writing.

I have a very troubled and painful past, and due to this I like to write articles about social issues and the problems with our individual self. I have written articles for various school competitions, but never got any prize. Still, I am going to keep on since this has become my passion. Maybe, my articles don’t move people emotionally and I will try to improve on it.

Now, I write articles on this platform, and I am glad that so many people read my article and appreciated my story so much. I don’t know if anyone has understood the meaning behind these writings, but the empathy I get from the readers really makes me stronger. It gives me the will to accomplish my dreams.

This is the first hobby I have gotten all by myself and it is emerging to be my passion too.

How I Learnt To Analyse BTS Songs

Another hobby I have gotten by myself is after becoming a part of the ARMY, solely because of BTS. I became a hardcore ARMY member because of their lyricism and the messages behind every single one of their tracks.

So, naturally, I am always curious about the motive behind their songs.

From this, I got the passion of analysing. As of now, I have done a detailed analysis of “pied piper” from their fifth mini album, love yourself: her (2017) and “don’t leave me” from their third, Japanese studio album, face yourself (2018).

I did get interested in analysing things because of BTS, but it all started when I was studying about psychologist Carl Jung’s map of the soul.

It is one of the greatest contributions in the field of psychoanalysis. Since then, I have become a good analyser. While analysing the aforementioned songs of BTS, I got to know about things, achievements and emotions, which were awkward for me six months ago.

During my research on  pied piper, I got to know about the pied piper of Hamlin, a very popular German folktale, dating back to 13th century AD. I knew this story since my childhood, but never expected that people are doing a PhD on this single folktale.

Actually, I did an analysis of the song because according to most people, BTS is dissing ARMY for their over obsessive behavior, but I believed that BTS is actually admitting that we can’t live without each other. Hence, BTS wants us to be responsible with our duties.

After I sent my analysis to my friends, they were just totally shocked by seeing my dedication and hard work. They really appreciated my work and even agreed to what I wanted to prove via my analysis of the pied piper.

That moment of getting appreciated and praised was one of the happiest moment of my life, and automatically it boosted my spirit of analysis.

Next, I analysed: don’t leave me. This song is not so popular among the fandom since it is a Japanese track and also, it wasn’t promoted too much during the time of its release. In my opinion, via this song, the BTS members were telling each other not to leave them.

This song was written when BTS was considering disbandment in early 2018, so probably BTS members wanted to stick with each other no matter what. I am very much attached to this song, emotionally, and I am glad that so many people were able to feel what BTS felt at that time.

Now, I am researching black swan, which is BTS’ second single from their fourth Korean studio album, map of the soul: 7 (2020). The whole album celebrates BTS’ seven year anniversary, along with their successes, failures, fears and happiness, and even the significance of art.

Through all my analyses, I have learnt to analyse human behaviors, the messages we get from Indian soap operas and cinemas, and I am glad to be away from the usual drama entailing romance and fights.

It wouldn’t be possible if BTS didn’t teach me to discover my inner potential and the happiness we get from these.

So, the fourth thing I have learnt from BTS is:

We need to discover our real happiness through our actions and potentials since the society will always want us to follow the same rules.

Competition In Today’s Day And Age

Today’s world is full of “competition”, where we all are born competitors. Human civilisation has a history of competing with one another so that we can become the best and lead everything.

Having competition is good since it teaches us courage, perseverance, patience etc., but it has been increasing for the worse.

Today, we want to win not to be the best, but to have the satisfaction of beating others. Our nourishment from the childhood is done in such a way that we become competitive in every aspect of our lives.

In school, in academics, in college, in jobs, in marriage, in literally everything.

This type of attitude demands us to be perfect in every way otherwise we will “lose”.

4 tools to help size up your global competition | EDC
Our world is a race now, with us being the competitors. Representational image. Photo credit: medium.com

There are two ways in which competition has a negative impact on us. First one is on an individual basis and the second one is on a social basis. Let’s talk about the former one. As I mentioned previously, due to the society’s competitive attitude since our childhood, we are expected to be good at everything.

We have even essays of ideal student in our essay books, telling us to be punctual, hard working, study, not be lazy or waste time, and all sorts of different qualifications. We are given the examples of successful, famous and great people—all those who are treated as if they were god.

In simple words, we all need to be perfect, otherwise we will lose in the race of achieving and acquiring the best. But is this notion right for each and every one of us as an individual?

There are two widespread notions around the world. The first one is that a human being is not god; and the second one is getting rebuked and scolded for every single mistake.

Both of these sound contrary, but both of these are very much used in our everyday life.

For example, if we praise someone for that person’s skills and talent, its normal to hear the comment that they are not god so there might be some fault in them. But in contrast, if that same person does a mistake, they are scolded as if something very unfortunate has occurred.

So, we are not god, but we can’t even make a small mistake. It sounds like we are angels, or demi-gods, with the body of  a human, but the powers of a god. This type of attitude is very unhealthy from a psychological point of view. This thing can be traced back to the theory of capitalism.

Google says that capitalism is the economic system in which businesses are owned and run for profit, by individuals and not by the state.

This system aims to produce a working population with similar skills. and creates a need to qualify some standards set by just a small group of people.

Our education system also runs in the same way. Our physical age determines which class we should study in. All children who are 10 years old, study in the fifth standard, since it is assumed that all of them have the same learning capacity.

For obvious reasons, this is wrong.

We Are All Equal, Not The Same

We are all treated as “same”, not equal. Treating everyone as same leads to the negligence of subjectivity and individuality, and thus, we are not able to acknowledge our differences as human beings.

Whereas, when we treat everyone as equal, it means we are giving everyone some sort of equality, irrespective of any social and economic differences.

But at the same time, we are also giving importance to all the differences we have. This description of sameness and equality is beautifully elaborated by a renowned 20th century psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm, in his book “The art of loving”.

Let us talk about some of the most negative impacts of this competition, perfection and sameness. Due to the urge to win in every competition, we need to be perfect. To be perfect, we need to be the same as others and without any fault.

This attitude leads to depression, exhaustion, stress, burn out and many other emotional and mental problems.

One of the latest examples of this type of an incident is the death of a tenth standard student. The student didn’t get expected marks in the board exams. She died by suicide because of her guilt about the same. More examples like this can be found in our daily life.

We are all compared to our friends and classmates, both by our parents and ourselves, even when we know we are not the same. Our eagerness to win is because it feels nice to beat someone. Being different than others is termed as bold and so on.

In simple words, we forget to acknowledge ourselves, our efforts, our differences, our faults and mistakes.

When BTS Spoke At The UN

I have mentioned my experience of acknowledging myself via BTS earlier, but I have more to add. In their 2014 track, where you from, they acknowledged and appreciated the cultural differences between the members and the listeners.

They say that whether they belong to Busan, or Gwangju, or any other city of the world, ultimately, they will fall in love.

In their 2015 track, ma city, they paid homage to their respective home towns and highlighted the most beautiful things about their home towns. In their 2018 tracks, epiphany and answer: love myself, they taught us and themselves to accept, appreciate and love ourselves even if we are not perfect.

On September 24, 2018, BTS went to the UN General Assembly, and its leader Kim Namjoon, aka RM, had given a speech there about their ‘love myself campaign’, in partnership with UNICEF. In that speech, RM talked about himself as an artist from South Korea, but also as a young guy of 24.

He talked about his own struggles with himself, how BTS has been spreading the message of loving myself, and how their fandom, ARMY, is the biggest reason behind its success. He asked each one of us, who we are, where we are from and what our convictions are.

At at the end, he asked us to speak for ourselves, no matter what our gender, skin colour, or identity is. RM’s speech at the UN general assembly, became an inspiration for millions of people like me across the globe.

One of the most beautiful parts of that speech was when he said the following:

“Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s me, too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I was, who I am, and who I hope to become.”

https://youtu.be/oTe4f-bBEKg

BTS – 2018 United Nations General Assembly Speech | Genius
BTS members listening to their leader speak during his speech at the UN general assembly in 2018. Photo credit: @TheMoon_HisSun, Twitter.

Moreover, BTS have many songs where they talk about their sadness, mistakes and faults, like: whalien 52, young forever, don’t leave me, persona, shadow, jamais vu, black swan, louder than bombs, 00:00, moon, disease etc.

In these songs, they talk about how they feel, the mistakes they made, how they found themselves again, their pain, and all those sort of emotions which we are used to neglecting because of the urge to be perfect.

Accepting Oneself For Who One Is

They even have songs like silver spoon, boyz with fun, am I wrong, not today, which attacks those systems of the society which makes us feel guilty, pressurises us and at the end, tries to control us.

The lyrics of silver spoon have been researched by folks from Harvard University for its social commentary. In their other numerous official and unofficial ventures, BTS members have talked about being ourselves, being kinder to ourselves even if we make mistakes or fail; and acknowledging every effort of ours.

These things have helped me a lot as a 21st-century-teenager who has to deal with many social and individual pressures to be perfect; and to thrive in this era of competition. Thus, we come to the fifth and the final thing I learnt from them:

Society will want us to be perfect to win, but no one is perfect. We should accept and acknowledge ourselves, which includes our efforts, mistakes, ultimately, ourselves too.

These were some of the lessons I have learnt from BTS. I am still learning from them and growing to be an imperfect but a true human being.

Featured image is for representational purposes only. Photo credit: BTS, Facebook.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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