4: A Year, and then some

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Hey guys — it’s 2014.

I was originally going to compile an end-of-year wrap-up post for 2013 like I’ve done every year since this blog’s inception, but let’s face it dudes: I basically fell off the K-pop radar this year, and the last entry on this blog — posted two months ago —  consisted of no more than three lines of text waxing poetic on an American popera singer whose fanbase is largely made up of white, middle-aged housewives between the ages of 35 and 60. Needless to say, I think I’ve become a little out of touch with my readership.

So it seemed a little disingenuous to go all-out with a huge, year-end K-pop recap complete with sparkly custom-made graphics when I’ve been so AWOL from fandom this year. Still, I couldn’t let this year go by without a final shout-out to this year’s releases…so here’s a playlist of some of my favorite tracks from 2013 — just some mood music as you read the rest of this post, ha.

This blog’s birthday actually falls on the same day as New Year’s Eve. I started this thing on the last day of 2009, back when I was still in high school and needed a place to angst about the DBSK breakup. Since then, it’s grown into this tiny little monster that, while admittedly still tiny, has nonetheless kinda become my (oft neglected) baby.

Those of you who go back to search for my first post will probably accuse me of lying; I think the oldest post still on this blog publicly is from mid-January of 2010 or something. I deleted most of the posts I wrote when I was in high school — not because I had written anything horribly incriminating, but because they were flat-out-embarrassing and I just didn’t want to have to look at them and own up to them. In a way, the moment when I began taking myself seriously as a writer coincided with the moment I stopped deleting my posts — not because my writing abilities just happened to skyrocket right then and there, but because I wanted to teach myself to grow and see the beauty in growth; to not be ashamed of my rough edges while trying to refine them.

So this is an anniversary post, I guess. I started this blog in earnest when I entered college, and now I’ll be graduating in about five months. It’d be inaccurate to say that this blog has served as any sort of marker of my growth as a person, if only because for the most part I’ve refrained from writing about my personal life and tried to keep my content heavy on the K-entertainment. And yes, part of the reason for that was to keep up traffic by capitalizing on fans looking to read a review, any review, on Idol Group X, Y, or Z’s latest album. And sometimes that plan would backfire whenever the fans realized that the review wasn’t exactly as favorable as expected…but hey. It’s all about the hustle, right?

Or so I thought. For those folks who have the good fortune of striking gold with their blogging endeavors and make enough money off of it for it to become their bread and butter, blogging really is all about the hustle. I don’t think that’ll ever happen with me, though…and nor do I want it to happen, really.

So what’s the point in keeping this thing alive? Well, blogging gives me a space to refine my writing skills; it gives me the freedom to write about what I want on my own terms; it gives me the reassurance (or perhaps the illusion thereof) that other people around the world are reading my work (by choice!) and have something to gain from it.

But even in trying to figure out what it might mean for me to be a career writer (or rather, a Writer), it occurred to me that Writing can easily become a fairly egotistical occupation. Only a Writer would have the audacity to think that her ideas are not only good enough for people to pay her to write about them, but for tens of thousands of other people to click on that link or pause on that page to read her work (again, by choice!) and, if she’s lucky, actually care about what she writes.

Likewise, Writing can be incredibly lonely. When you first start, you can’t help but feel like you’re tossing every post into a black hole as soon as you hit the “publish” button, unsure if anyone will ever read it. And as you get a little further up the blogging ladder, you start reading through the comments with your heart guarded and your skin thick, picking out your possible allies and enemies — none of whom you will ever talk to. And if you get really lucky, you might even develop a fanbase of some sort — a small group of loyal followers  — but as loyal as they might be, you could mess up once (or even slack on writing for a few weeks) and they’ll fall away like rain.

It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Even now, I’m not really sure exactly what Writing entails and at the moment I’m not sure if I want to even become a Writer and find out for real. But I know that writing — innocent, agenda-free writing with a lower-case w — is all about connecting with people and sharing the human experience together.

When I look back on my time in college, it’s so obvious — painfully obvious — that my college years were a time of unparalleled growth and learning, to the point where first-year me is almost unrecognizable compared to present me. With that, it seems dishonest to try to cultivate this superhuman blogger identity where I present myself as someone smarter, cooler, and wiser than I actually am in order to gather “followers” who might see me as someone they admire or look up to. I don’t want to create that distance between myself and those who happen to read my writing, especially since the blogging medium has potential for so much more than that.

Over the past year I’ve been posting more about non-K-pop related topics as well as some slices from my personal life. I share these with you not because I want to prove to you that I’m an Interesting Person worth following, but because I want to open this space up to create room for more than my wordy opinions on worldly things. I want this to be your space too, and I want to get to know you. As I reflect on the ways I’ve changed and grown over the past four years, it’s tempting to seal off this chapter for good and tell myself that I’ve done the best I can, that this is as good as it’s gonna get.

But even just looking superficially at my present lifestyle, there remain so many obvious contradictions that I’ve yet to address: I started doing pilates regularly, but have cultivated a taste for sweets that I never had in childhood. I’ve gotten better at initiating friendships and talking to people, but am still a walking relationship disaster. I finally overcame my fear of driving, but I cringe at the idea of having to pay for gas regularly. In fact, I cringe at having any adult responsibilities, period. And the Instant Gratification Monkey is a constant, constant fixture in my life preventing me from doing anything productive, ever.

I’m twenty years old, and I still have a ton of growing left to do. The reality of that confession alone is humbling enough for me to realize that I’m in no position to make up this mysterious, unattainable, better-than-you online identity in the hopes that people will admire and appreciate and idolize a me that isn’t really me. I’ll still write about K-pop on the days when there’s stuff going on in K-pop, and I’ll still write intemallectual-sounding stuff on East Asian politics and culture when the mood strikes. But barring that, I think it’s time to change things up a little.

So for 2014, let’s get to know each other a little better. My name’s Patricia. What’s yours?

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  • Jacquelyn

    Hey I love this so much! Keep writing, because you clearly got it in you! Here’s to 2014, girl!!

  • Gaya_SB

    I didn’t appreciate Dolls until this playlist, so thank you for that!