[Work, life, balance, and K-dramas] My mentor in life
by Guest Beanie
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People
“Don’t watch dramas when you’re in high school,” they say. “Focus on your studies and extracurriculars,” they say. “It’s such a waste of time,” they say. Well you know what I say? Watching dramas has taught me more about living as an adult than high school will ever teach me, and I do not intend to ever give up on them.
I discovered dramas when Dream High aired in 2010; I was only 8 years old. My mom was a huge fan of Kim Soo-hyun, and one day, she sat me down in front of the TV and together we watched the first show that would be the catalyst for my upward spiral into drama heaven. I do not exaggerate when I say that from that day forward, dramas have become a very central part of my childhood and adolescent years and memories.
However, as a soon-to-be junior in high school, I admit I don’t have too much time to spare for dramas anymore. Most days, it’s either sleep more or watch dramas, and I will almost always choose dramas. And yes, I am guilty about it. Especially as a student, I have a certain responsibility to perform well in school and not cause my parents worry. I have struggled immensely with wondering if I might be doing better in life had I not “wasted” so much time watching dramas over the past eight years. On the days when I have failed, after running through all the things I did wrong and blaming myself for everything, I often find myself landing on the drama I watched last week for a couple hours and bashing myself for indulging in such a useless past time. Other students who are clearly doing better than me don’t watch dramas, I firmly tell myself.
But then I think about where I would be if I did not have dramas in my life. Dramas give me joy to a level that I cannot explain. I have experienced such strong emotions from watching dramas that they have altered the way I perceive how I live. The tears I have shed for my characters and the heartbreak I have felt is enough sadness to last a lifetime, but the laughter and utter happiness I have been gifted is more than anyone could ever ask for. I have become more mature thanks to dramas, and that has helped me so much in life. Often times I’ll feel guilty telling myself this, but without dramas to help me get through my anxiety all these years, I don’t want to know where I would be today, and therefore I never want to let go of dramas, no matter how “distracting” they may be.
Among the most important things dramas have taught me are perseverance and passion. Korean dramas highlight characters who consistently persevere at what they are passionate about. In Misaeng, Jang Geu-rae’s relentless work ethic at the office and his resilient pushing against a world that never seemed to be on his side ultimately resulted in Geu-rae finally understanding that he shouldn’t blame himself for everything that had gone wrong in his life. And in Six Flying Dragons, Lee Bang-Won had the entirety of history against him, and yet he believed in his values so strongly that he created Joseon, forever imprinting himself into history. I could mention any drama here, and I would have a story to tell about how incredibly strong the characters were, but also how human they felt to me. Dramas not only give me strength, but also hope, and they are invaluable to my life.
This entire sophomore year, I have been struggling to manage my grades. No matter what I did, my grades kept dropping, and I thought I was getting less intelligent by the day. I had always done so well in school. It’s like I was suddenly dumped into the depths of hell and AP classes were the devil. Like Geu-rae, I convinced myself I still wasn’t trying hard enough and I had to work harder and harder. I dropped all drama watching. For several months I completely quit. And I was miserable. I was constantly comparing myself to my friends and I was doubting everything I did. Several of my relationships with my friends fell apart, and I felt like I had no one I could relate to. Everybody else seemed to have it together. And then I somehow heard of Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People. My grades were where they were, and I could tell they wouldn’t budge anymore. I decided to give Rebel a try.
I completely immersed myself in the world of the Hong Avengers, and after binging the first three episodes, I realized with an aching in my chest that I had missed dramas so much. As the character of Hong Gil-dong developed over the next couple of weeks, I was enthralled with his courage and loyalty. Gil-dong did not ever stop believing in himself and others, and he surrounded his family with so much love. Needless to say, I was very motivated after finishing Rebel, and I haven’t stopped finding more heroines to look up to since. My grades did not miraculously improve, but I am so much happier.
Thank you so much for reading! Everything I’ve shared with you Beanies in this post is what I’ve learned about the greatest mentor I’ve had in my life, dramas.
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People
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