I have a confession to make. My wake-up alarm is set to a BTS song. Every morning I start my day with either catching up on Weverse notifications, Youtube videos, checking my Facebook groups on BTS-related info, or (and most likely) all of the above. I end my day with their music playing in my mind. I am mildly perturbed by this. As a person who favors and favorites nothing but my son (because he’s an only child), I’m often concerned by this level of obsession. It can’t be healthy, can it? More than that, as an old(er) lady it’s embarrassing, especially as it pertains to my bias. I’ve been pretty vocal about being ARMY, even sporting BTS-themed clothing and jewelry. But, as I “loud and proud” as I am, it’s a struggle. Why? Because I’m not sure how it fits my image of how I want others to view me.
Honestly, as a hard introvert (I’ve been “classified” as an INFJ), I would rather people don’t view me at all! Better that I am a faceless, amorphous presence in the background. I am more comfortable that way, when I can just watch others and they don’t notice me. But, that’s not how American culture works. We are meant to show our individualism and uniqueness whilst belonging to a “tribe” or “team,” whatever that may be. I have a hard time “belonging” and/or “identifying” as anything. And, this is why as a transpersonal psychology student, I struggled whenever we learned of and discussed aspects of Self and how we are meant to accept and integrate them (all of Her) to be our True Self. I suppose, for me, those different roles we play in our own Hero’s Journey are nothing but masks we don depending on the occasion. They are but simply our momentary persona.
Who am I? The question I had my whole life
The question which I probably won’t find an answer to my whole life
If I were answerable with a few more words
Then God wouldn’t have created all these various beauties
How you feel? How’re you feeling right now?
Actually I’m real good but a little uncomfortable
I’m still not so sure if I’m a dog or a pig or what else
But then other people come out and put the pearl necklace on me
I started my grad studies in 2015. I initially applied to a program in spiritual advising or something like that. That program was cut so I ended up in transpersonal psychology. Because I’m a person who literally thinks everything happens for a reason (in other words, leave it all to God/dess), I was ok with it. Now that I look back on it, I think it’s both ironic and funny.
I have always warned my son never to date a psych student because (and yes this is a generalization) they’re all crazy and trying to find the answers to fix themselves. And, here I became a psych student. And, I think I went a little “crazy.” Actually, let me rephrase that into a more politically correct way. I broke into pieces.
When I did my one-week orientation at grad school, I felt I became alive. I thought I’d found my people, my tribe. My cohort and instructors were/are like-minded folks who understood that “woo-woo” part of me I couldn’t explain out loud. They could relate to all the “weird” things I experience – the metaphysical and spiritual happenings that seem to weave themselves into my daily life; the surges of power and insight that come from nowhere and are a bit frightening because society and primary Western understanding have no explanations for them. My school and the people in it had labels to make those experiences more palatable and acceptable for me. They offered me the holes I could put my peg into, labeled as intuitive, shaman, witch … there was a buffet of personas from which I could pick and feast – goddess, empath, fairy. The list can go on, but you get the idea. All of it felt right. And all of it felt wrong.
My second year into grad school, I felt that my reason for being there was so that I could be the shoulder for everyone’s burden as they went through their transformative process. Being constantly available and empathic made me, I think, withdraw into myself. At the same time, I was creating a new persona for others to see; a new mask to hide behind, to appease the senses of others and with which I could, and did, create a barrier between me and the outside world. Hmmm… I suppose some would say I was falling into my chronic depressive state.
Even after graduation, I held onto this mask and added layers of laquer to it. A layer of “business owner,” a layer of “coach”, a layer of event planning, forest-bathing, teacher, fund-raising, nature girl. Oh gosh… the list goes on. So many layers. So many roles to play. So many personas. Writing this down, I feel sick to my stomach. Literally. It’s too much, overwhelming, and too heavy. How many layers do you add to your mask before it stops up all the breathing holes and you begin to suffocate?
And, here is where Kim Nam-joon’s (aka RM) words make me want to scream because I can relate so much:
My shadow, I wrote and called it hesitation
It has never hesitated after becoming that
It keeps appearing under the stage or the light
Keeps glaring at me scorchingly like a heat wave (Oh shit)
Hey, have you already forgotten why you even started this
You were just digging it that someone was listening
Sometimes everything sounds like freakin’ nonsense
You know what comes out of you when you’re drunk.. like immaturity
“Hey, have you already forgotten why you even started this? You were just digging it that someone was listening.” You know, it’s funny. No matter how introverted a person, I guess we all need acknowledgement and attention in some form. And, it’s interesting that RM writes and raps about the “shadow.” This is very prevalent in transpersonal psych. And, like his words and maybe his shadow, mine began to appear more and more and grew larger within my psyche, behind my mask.
Someone like me ain’t good enough for music
Someone like me ain’t good enough for the truth
Someone like me ain’t good enough for a calling
Someone like me ain’t good enough to be a muse
The flaws of mine that I know
Maybe that’s all I’ve got really
The world is actually not interested in my clumsiness at all
The regrets that I don’t even get sick of anymore
I tumble with them every night until I’m disgusted
And twist the irreversible time habitually
There’s something that raised me up again every time
The first question
The three syllables of my name and the word ‘but’ that should come before any of those
“Someone like me ain’t good enough …” This is my shadow. This is the internal voice that takes space inside my head and grows the seed of doubt in my heart. It has been named as “imposter syndrome.” And, I feel that completely.
And because of an unexpected pandemic that shut down the entire world, I have “The regrets that I don’t even get sick of anymore. I tumble with them every night until I’m disgusted And twist the irreversible time habitually.” Stay-at-home orders and required mask wearing gave me permission to let everything go – drop it all and pretend like nothing happened. It’s immaturity and avoidance, and I won’t even make excuses for it because to do so would be false. Let’s just say I took off the heavy mask that everyone was used to seeing, threw it on the ground and stomped on the pieces that weren’t already broken. And, behind it all, I found that I am faceless. And, it’s okay.
Well, this wouldn’t be much of a BTS love post if I didn’t gush over the group, their music, and why I’m writing another BTS-related post. I can’t really gush right now. Very honestly, I haven’t gotten over much of what I’ve just written about – the masks, the imposter syndrome shadow, having to actually come back to reality and deal with all the stuff I set aside … it is all overwhelming. I can barely keep it together as I recover and come out of my cave. But I know I’m not alone. That somewhere on the other side of the world, a South Korean man I can’t understand is rapping the words and feelings that sit in my soul. Somehow, his music and his rhyme are the air that fuels the fire deep within my Authentic Self.
So I’m askin’ once again yeah
Who the hell am I?
Tell me all your names baby
Do you wanna die?
Oh do you wanna go?
Do you wanna fly?
Where’s your soul? where’s your dream?
Do you think you’re alive?
I don’t know man
But I know one thing
[Verse 3: RM]
My name is R
The ‘me’ that I remember and people know
The ‘me’ that I created myself to vent out
Yeah maybe I have been deceiving myself
Maybe I’ve been lying
But I’m not embarrassed anymore this is the map of my soul
Before reading the translation and without even understanding his words, a part of me knew that the answer I seek/sought was in an empathic rap. The rhythm and timbre of his words told my subconscious there was a message for me there:
You must never lose your temperature
Cuz you don’t need to be neither warm nor cold
Though I might sometimes be hypocritical or pretend to be evil
This is the barometer of my direction I want to keep
The ‘me’ that I want myself to be
The ‘me’ that people want me to be
The ‘me’ that you love
And the ‘me’ that I create
The ‘me’ that’s smiling
The me that’s sometimes in tears
Vividly breathing each second and every moment even now
“Transpersonal psychology can be understood as a psychology of transformation, one that studies humans as participation members of transformative process. . . Transformation of consciousness is not merely developmental maturation, but a process in which the very identity of the participating subject (individual or collective) is radically reorganized as it comes under the influence of higher forces (Hartelius, Rothe and Roy, 2012).”