[2018 Year in Review] An intermission with a crescendo
by Guest Beanie
Before I describe my 2018 in K-dramas, I’ll have to take you all with me on a short flashback to my end of the year review for 2017. I was unemployed and therefore lost, until I watched Chief Kim tell our beloved glutton to just turn back towards the right path and redeem himself. If our glutton could have his redemption arc in the last episode, then I could have my redemption arc in 2018. I was so proud of myself for coming up with that fitting K-drama metaphor, and I vowed back then to write this as a sequel, to see if and how much I redeemed myself in 2018.
Surprisingly enough, I did not redeem myself. Why? Well, to redeem yourself you have to do something terribly wrong first. Then you atone for your sins and only then will you be worthy enough to receive better things in life, or so I thought. While unemployment does feel like an atonement for some heinous crime, it wasn’t until I live watched Thirty But Seventeen this summer that I realized how toxic that redemption arc metaphor was to my mental well-being.
Our protagonists Seo-ri and Woo-jin might know what I am trying to explain. Seo-ri woke up after thirteen years in a coma and she struggled to let go of her old life and dreams, while at the same time trying desperately to get a grip on her new life. Way too often have I been in her shoes, wondering why I could not get a job, why I remained stuck while everyone moved forward, or why everyone but me seemed to adult so effortlessly. Seo-ri used the musical intermission metaphor to describe her current situation, a break in her life before the show of her life goes on to bring her more good things. She encouraged me to break free from my metaphorical unemployment coma and redemption arc mindset, and instead gifted me her healthier intermission mindset to put into practice.
Our Mr. Gong suffered a trauma after witnessing a horrible accident, and unjustly blamed himself for that accident for the following thirteen years. It was a joy to watch him gradually overcome his trauma and return to his old true self. There should be more male K-drama leads as kind, supportive, and open-minded as Woo-jin out there, both on our screens and in our environment. Woo-jin was my mentor who taught me that bad things often happen to us without us having any control or responsibility over it. At the same time he was also my personal coach who ordered me to make the most of my unemployment and my life, instead of punishing myself some more for something that was not even my fault in the first place.
I cannot talk about mentors without mentioning our knowledgeable housekeeper Jennifer. In the eyes of everyone else she is gifted with extensive knowledge, and her unfazed attitude towards it all made her seem even cooler. To Jennifer however, this knowledge turns out to be anything but a gift. Instead it painfully reminds her of the times when books and libraries were the only shelter from her pain.
Jennifer taught me that lifelines at our lowest might turn into assets that bring out our best. One of my shelters, or the redemption arc as I used to call it last year, was going back to school during the first half of 2018 for a degree in administration. Not only did I actually earn that degree, it also got me a temporary administration job nearby pretty quickly, and I am still employed there at the moment. In the same way, Jennifer blossomed the moment she decided to appreciate herself and her talents in the same way we viewers had been doing all along.
Of course I saved the best for last, my fellow aunties. Our beloved nephew CHAAAAAAN! Chan represented my relatives whenever he worried about his growing chick or his uncle. Chan and his friends represented my friends whenever they got excited about food, or whenever they helped Seo-ri without asking questions or for a reward. Most of all, Chan represented the Beanies of Dramabeans. Whenever he sat down together with Seo-ri in the garden to hear about her day, or shared a hot chocolate with his uncle, there was genuine warmth between them. I feel the same warmth whenever I read your replies and encouragements on my comments, and it makes me determined to become even more active on Dramabeans in 2019.
My 2019 might not end up being a fairytale nicely tied with a bow on top, but it should be a good year if I just remind myself regularly to not waste my time worrying and holding myself back while I should be spending my time on things I love; with people I love.
As our Chan would say: Don’t think, feel!