[Surviving and Thriving] Emotional survival
While there are many technical facets to surviving and thriving in dramaland — from compiling lists to loading up on storage space — I’ve found that most of my personal tactics for survival have to do with the emotional tasks of being a drama watcher. Feels overload? Totally happens. Loving (or hating) a drama and not knowing where to squee or scream? Also a thing.
And so, to stay on top of all the emotions that comes with drama devotion, I’ve developed some habits to keep myself semi-sane, whether my heart is bursting, breaking, or just not in it at all. These tips have managed to get me through – and maybe a few will work for you as well. And if not, hey, we can always rely on the K-drama remedy for beating a breakdown, which might find us dropping everything, moving to the countryside, and stealing all the neighbors’ flowery pants.
1. Don’t talk to anyone about the ones you love
Off the bat, this might sound crazy. Why would anyone want to keep all the glorious drama love to themselves? Well, this tactic developed organically for me when I realized that sometimes talking about dramas actually diluted how I felt about them. It was like taking all my hard-earned feels, chucking them out the window, and watching them blow away on the breeze.
Why this happens I’m not totally sure. But since K-dramas deal in the business of feels, it seems like a wise investment to hold onto the ones I value most. And so, to avoid the risk of losing all those heart-wrenching, sob-inducing, squee-triggering feel-goods, I always keep a few of my fondest dramas just for me.
2. Talk to everyone about the ones you hate
That being said, it seems I have no problem feeling too much when a drama drives me up the wall. In that case, I need to let those emotions out and find a similarly agitated drama devotee to commiserate with. And, maybe it’s just me, but vitriol seems to spur essays of analysis, unlike drama worship, which can leave me empty-headed and glassy-eyed.
Luckily, as with dramas I love, there aren’t that many dramas I absolutely abhor. Still, when the situation arises, I take to the metaphorical streets, rally the rebels, and organize a sophisticated takedown of the script. But, you know, as nicely as possible.
3. Trust your Episode-2 intuition (and don’t believe the hype)
For me, this has become a hard rule because I’ve lost so much time on dramas that didn’t wow me — only because “everyone” loved them. The truth is, I always know by Episode 2 whether or not a drama is my ideal type. Call it a sixth sense, but it’s never steered me wrong to go with my gut when it comes to dramas. And sometimes that means admitting that “everyone” and I don’t always have that much in common.
Yet, I’ve ignored my instinct on various occasions — sitting through tropes I detest and plot twists that don’t seem so twisted — because all the hype told me to stick it out until the end. Now, though, I’m a quick drama-dropper. Because the only thing that makes me madder than wasting 16 hours on a show, is wasting 16 hours on a show I already had a hunch I wouldn’t like.
4. Scribble out all the feels
I guess it’s not a shock to say that I like writing about dramas. But even when I’m not writing for Dramabeans, scribbling down my reactions is the best way I know to work out all the feels when I’m not sure exactly what I’m feeling. Dramas have changed a lot over the past few years, dealing with diverse experiences and headier topics. And as much as I adore this aspect of the ever-changing dramaverse, it means that I can’t go into a show assuming escapism as I once thought I could.
Just in 2023, I’ve covered various dramas that required some subtle introspection (like The Interest of Love and One Day Off) and I spent lots of time in between episodes pondering the meanings of these shows. Most of my thoughts never made it to the recaps, but I still needed to tap away at the keyboard and dig up how the dramas were affecting me in order to reach those final thoughts. And so, this is a tactic I stand by — whenever I’m stuck in a muddled state — to get all those feels out of me, onto the paper, and organized into something that makes sense.
5. Choose your platforms wisely
Whether you love, hate, or just don’t know how you feel about a drama, I think who you choose to share it with is the number one thing that can make or break your emotional survival. For me at least, certain comment’s sections can crash my mood, while others can leave me energized or in deep thought. So, while the perfect platforms will differ for everybody, seeking the right K-drama crowd is a worthy quest.
And at the risk of sounding like a shameless plug (but hey, if you’re reading this, I’m preaching to the choir), I’ll say that Dramabeans is (and has always been) the place I consistently come back to for articulate and interesting discussions. The level of civil discourse makes it feel like a community — and community is crucial. Because once we’ve found the right people to stick it out with, I’m pretty sure we can survive anything dramaland throws at us.