Who Am I?: (Pt. 3) Influence vs Pressure

Who Am I is slowly and unintentionally becoming a series because it is my self-discovery journey made public. In Part I I contemplated on what makes me me, Part II was about how I realised that ironically, it is difficult to be the cliche Be Yourself especially the parts of my identity that are not archetypal. 

We are all minefields. On the surface, we seem like smooth plains untouched. Buried beneath the top soil of who we are lie minerals, metals and sometimes, mines. Minerals and metals are what we choose to develop in ourselves, nudged by our experiences and the people around us. The mines are forcefully planted in us by pressure, external and occasionally internal.

Pressure often comes in the form of categories. It is ironic that in a world that believes in individuality, we are still expected to fit into groups with highly specific requirements for their members, and we enforce these stereotypes on others, and ourselves. For example, I used to think I was a ‘classical music kind of person’ thus never even attempting to understand pop music. On the other hand, my peers at the time thought I was odd for enjoying ‘old people music’ as they saw themselves as being ‘in’ thus frowning upon all sorts of music that were not the latest releases. Another example would be icebreakers. Every start of the term in a new school, teachers, or orientation committees will suggest icebreakers, often asking each individual to share a few fun facts about themselves. These fun facts are something I struggle to come up with because I know that they will eventually define me for these people I just met and I know that no list of fun facts will do me justice because I am human, I am a complex being. Astrological star signs, Chinese zodiac symbols, 16 personalities, Hogwarts houses are all boxes we sort ourselves into, preventing us from thinking out of the box when it comes to who we truly are.

삶에서 장르는 덫 (In life, genre is a trap)

– Do You, Rap Monster

This year, I have been consciously trying to choose to be influenced rather than pressured. I have stepped out of the footsteps of my father and introduced myself to Korean Pop. The interesting thing about this experience was that I gained the perfect example of how easy it is to lose yourself in all the hype of a ‘fandom’.

Background: I would not say I started off as a fan of BTS. I was more of a Rap Monster fan. I found it interesting that someone with an IQ of 148, considered a genius would choose to pursue such a career instead of focusing in what the world thought he would be good at. I only started to listen to their music because Rap Monster happened to be involved in a lot of their productions and I did enjoy his music. After a while, some of the members’ personalities as glimpsed from their own variety recordings caught my attention and I grew to enjoy watching their music and non-music related shows and performances.

My roommate happens to also like the group and she prides herself on being a typical “ARMY who loves and supports all the 7 members equally”. However she obviously did not care as much about some of the members while she continued to insist otherwise. Personally I do not think it is any of my business because you do you, girl, until she insisted on my doing so as well to be considered a ‘true ARMY’. It would have been so easy to forget why I admired the people I admired and blindly follow the command. Thankfully, I hate being told what to do and thus began to think about her suggestion and came to the conclusion that I should not have to like someone more just to belong under a label. So be it if I am now a fan of Jimin, a fan of Jin, a fan of Suga, a fan of Jhope etc. but not a ARMY. So be it if I am a fan of the group but not an ARMY simply because I think some of the members are more admirable than others 🙂

My venture into K-pop gave me many stars to learn from and a whole new culture to experience and it will eventually shape part of who I become. However, it is not necessary to like everything under the K-pop umbrella, I do not have to agree with plastic surgery if I do not want to. My experience studying overseas taught me the value of hard work but it does not mean I should always be working, I also do not have to be like the stereotypical scholarship recepient, I can still maintain my usually laidback nature. What I am trying to say is that there are so many things around us, and we will try to bring order to our identity by trying to define ourselves. The definition should be kept open to amendment so that we do not limit our development. (As you may have noticed, in Part I, most of the things listed are not restrictive and are things I am very sure about, where the only change possible would be a contradiction. e.g. I did not say that I was a humanes person to limit myself to only humanes but that I loved humanes, that does not mean I cannot love science too, I just gave the humanities a special mention because many slighted it heh.)

Read the English translation of the lyrics, they are very meaningful ❤ I also found the first verse a pleasant coincidence because the lyrics are similar to the first paragraph in Part II of Who Am I even though I had no idea who Rap Monster was when I wrote the post. It is nice to know the artist that I like is worth me being a fan of beyond looks and rap skills but also on what he stands for and raps about.

First time sharing something like this. Hope no one sees it as an interruption in theme 🙂 I don’t think it is. ❤ Check out Analogy: Puzzle because it was supposed to be a part of this post but I did not want the post to be messy with different analogies flying all over the place.

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