25

[Hey, that’s me] The mouse in the sharehouse

Just a small town girl / Livin’ in a lonely world / She took the city bus, goin’ to Beeeelle Epoque. Yup, that’s me. Or, I should say, that’s Yoo Eun-jae from JTBC drama Age of Youth. As Eun-jae, a bundle of nerves, stepped out of her bus and entered what would be her new home and new life, I had this fluttering feeling in my stomach. Within those first few minutes, something told me that I was seeing my life play out in a K-drama.

I’d related to youth dramas and their characters before, but never to that degree. It was little Miss Eun-jae that shook me to my core, we were so similar. I was also a small town girl who moved to a… er, slightly larger small town. But I was in a completely different state, there to get some space from my parents and to pursue my undergraduate studies. I shared a dorm room with one other person (rather than four, thank god). And because I was as reserved and passive as Eun-jae, I handled the roommate situation as terribly as she did. I was her, all the way down to the incoherent mumbling.

Age of Youth’s depiction of multiple girls living under one roof was scary realistic. From Ye-eun gradually stealing spoonfuls of Eun-jae’s jam to Yi-na accusing her of failing laundry duty. While watching the show, I would nod and think Yes! My roommate totally did that! Or Yes! That was so frustrating! I knew Eun-jae’s specific type of frustration all too well — those conflicting feelings of having someone be a pain in my side and being afraid that I was just as much a pain for them.

It’s always hard to articulate my personality, to explain it to people who don’t really know me. Sometimes I wish I could just show them this drama and be like Here. This is what it’s like for me. Not being able to speak up. Not being heard when you do speak up. Dreading how others will react. I actually had my mom watch the drama for the first time recently, and she practically died laughing. “That is exactly how you are!” she would gasp between giggle fits. And because of the tasteful way the drama dealt with its humor, I, of course, was able to laugh too.

Yeah, a lot of the situations Eun-jae found herself in were hilarious and awkward, but because they were so close to my life, it was kind of cringe-worthy. Depressing, almost.

Like Eun-jae, I would hold all of my negative feelings in, and make things worse by overthinking everything. I’d seen characters like this in other movies, TV shows, and K-dramas, but Age of Youth gave the character of Eun-jae a small dosage of darkness, as it did with the other four housemates.

This shyness of Eun-jae’s was more than a shyness. It was anxiety, in its deepest and darkest form. And we saw that with her backstory. She had the heartbreaking story of losing someone, with an unsolvable mystery behind that loss. There was so much ambiguity there — memories were fuzzy and emotions were clashing.

For Eun-jae and myself, the anxiety is this terrifying monster that is constantly preying on us. It crushes what little strength we might’ve had and feeds on our fear, growing bigger and bigger. And at some point, the monster has taken so much away from us that it can seem like we’re empty. We become empty vessels that run solely on fear.

I believe that is what Eun-jae felt lying on the roof as she was questioning her past. It echoed how I felt at school, after I’d made certain decisions that made me think I ruined my life. Thankfully, when Eun-jae came back down, she had her four friends waiting right there to fill her back up. It reminded me of my own friends and family who would do everything they could to make me feel whole again.

I will say, though, that once we got into season 2, my connection with Eun-jae started to fade. I still related to her passive-aggressive attitude (on a spiritual level), but the lengths she was going to to win back her ex-boyfriend Jong-yeol felt…off. Maybe because I related to her so much, and I myself wouldn’t dare attempt those things, I questioned why she would. It seemed like a weird change of character.

But I think it was because I had merged me and Eun-jae into one, and my thoughts had become less She wouldn’t do that and more I wouldn’t do that. It was quite disorienting, actually, having to separate myself from this character to truly understand her and why she would act that way. I mean, who knows? Maybe I would act the same way, if my feelings were to push me that far. Then again, there’s no way in hell that my best friend would let me. She’d hold me back and wave her finger at me.

Side note: That’s the one thing I hold against Eun-jae’s housemates. You girls should’ve held her back! Pinned her down! Deleted Jong-yeol’s number, something!

While I have nothing against the actress who took over in season 2 — because she was great as well — it was Park Hye-soo’s portrayal in season 1 that created that bond with me and the character. Her smallness in both appearance and soul was just spot-on to how I feel in everyday life.

She was about as small and quiet as a mouse, but her heart and mind were colorful and loud. And seeing her housemates learn to love both the quiet and loud sides of her — ah, it gave me all the warm fuzzies. I haven’t seen another show that made me cherish the beauty of friendship quite this much.

 
RELATED POSTS

Tags:

25

Required fields are marked *

Ah, Eun-jae. The introvert me can relate to her anxiety and overthinkingness so much.

13
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

What a beautiful and honest piece.

"those conflicting feelings of having someone be a pain in my side and being afraid that I was just as much a pain for them." --this. I try to outgrow it, but it is always lurking somewhere.

16
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

'I try to outgrow it, but it is always lurking somewhere.' Same.

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Beautifully written! I like Eun Jae. If I met her in real life we could be friends. Hi friend!

8
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

beautifully written and so heartfelt!❤️

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

What a wonderfully thoughtful piece. I hope to read more about minions and Beanies this month and get to know you all! This was lovely.

8
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

True, I do feel 1st Eunjae was the true Eunjae. The second is not that natural, feels like another person.
Overall, love this drama, especially the first season.

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

thanks for the beautiful and personal essay @sailorjumun

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Such a great piece! I appreciate your honesty. Age of Youth was the first k-drama I watched, so Eun-jae holds a special place in my heart.

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I just want to give this beautiful piece an upvote even though I have nothing else to say that hasn’t been said already. Thanks for sharing sailorjumun. ❤️

7
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

"For Eun-jae and myself, the anxiety is this terrifying monster that is constantly preying on us. It crushes what little strength we might’ve had and feeds on our fear, growing bigger and bigger. And at some point, the monster has taken so much away from us that it can seem like we’re empty. We become empty vessels that run solely on fear."

oof, what a good description. I finally "aged out" of that general anxiety and fear but it's still there for special occasions 🙁

6
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

May I ask how this 'aging out' works? Is there a tutorial book on it I can read?

1
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I don't know of a book! For me it took the form of growing old enough that it feels like I've seen most things before and understand how little they ended up mattering. So now I'm much more laid back (and don't even bother taking on a lot of possibilities). That probably sounds a bit depressing but it feels like resignation to reality, and it is a big relief 😁

1
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Well, I look forward to that happening, because right now, I'm 32 and still bloody anxious about everything, lol.

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Better to try to work on that now than wait for your 50s . . . there's a pretty big tradeoff in the way your body falls apart 😮!

0

Oh wow. You articulated me exactly when I was younger. Thanks for the really lovely post, SailorJumun. Extra points for quoting Journey.

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This piece is scary accurate to me, too. Heck, I had written half of THE EXACT SAME EXAMPLES WITH THE SAME CHARACTERS. I guess it's going to scrap then lol. (but boy am I glad im not the only one who feels the same way).

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

lmao.... Seems like i ghostwrote this (except you can write). While i never lived with anyone, because i knew i wouldn't ever be able to, so I just end up taking the smallest place i could find, where i could be alone AT LEAST... I could relate to Eunjae so much, way more than any characters i've ever seen in a drama.

I also think one of the reason I didn't enjoy the second season as much as the first one, is because Eunjae looked off to me, or at least, she wasn't like me. And I always thought Eunjae and I were pretty much the same.
Still, i think the writing was a bit off. Or maybe as you said it's just because she didn't act the way we thought we would. I don't know. The change of actress and the change of Eunjae as a character was maybe too much.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think it was a combination of both. No matter how hard she tried, the new actress just wasn't going to be able to recreate the same mannerisms and facial expressions, etc. as the original actress, and the character herself just wasn't as mousy and anxious and afraid as she was in the first season. (Her fashion sense also really changed, which didn't help.)

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Haven't seen the drama. This thoughtful piece makes me want to. Soon, I'll have some time; so thank you.

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I promise you won't regret it! One of the best slice-of-life shows out there. ❤️

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

You absolutely need to. This is on my list of dramas I would recommend to anyone, regardless of what genre you like, what country you prefer, if you even watch dramas at all.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

@sailorjumun This perfectly describes dorm life to an uncanny degree!

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Aaaaah, Age of Youth. Both seasons are tied with Misaeng for my favorite drama of all time (although it may be time to admit that Misaeng has slid into second place). Damn if they didn't understand exactly what it's like to be a young woman and feel like you have no place in the world.

I think you nailed part of the crux of why I liked Eun-Jae so much with this bit: 'For Eun-jae and myself, the anxiety is this terrifying monster that is constantly preying on us. It crushes what little strength we might’ve had and feeds on our fear, growing bigger and bigger. And at some point, the monster has taken so much away from us that it can seem like we’re empty. We become empty vessels that run solely on fear.' I honestly think you could replace some of the words and make this apply to that heavy, overwhelming, dark, unshakable feeling that you're never gonna be able to truly connect with others because you just don't understand how friendships work and there's too much baggage and too many secrets and you have too many flaws for anyone to be willing to take you on, because that's definitely another reason I connected with Eun-Jae.

And like you, as much as I can appreciate the actress who took over the character in season 2, it wasn't the same, and part of me is always going to be a little...discontented by it and wishing we could get season 2 again but with the original Eun-Jae back. (That or season three with the original Eun-Jae again or even a season three with both actresses taking turns with the character as a fun little in-story thing (AND TO FIX THE MISTAKE ON THAT URN, DAMN IT!))

To me, like you, Age of Youth (1 and 2) is just always going to be an important show. I don't think I'll ever be able to disconnect it from my heart, because it means so much.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *