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Here's to the K-pop band that got me through high school

  • 3 min to read
CHALK K-pop 1

Left to right: Heather Boyle, Emma Fotovich and Jewelry Aphayarath at a SHINee concert in Dallas, Texas, on March 24, 2017.

When times are hard I look to SHINee. No, I didn't misspell shiny, nor am I talking about something that a child would like because they have short attention spans. I mean the K-pop group, SHINee.

When I was younger, my confidence level was not great. I would get spooked easily in my classes and kids would pick on me because I wasn't focused on looks or sports. I dressed in sweatshirts and leggings with shorts over it. I was uncomfortable with my body, and the feeling stuck with me throughout high school. But whenever I felt down, I would turn to SHINee.

The pop group consists of five amazing members that have been together since 2008. They started as awkward children with bowl haircuts — I remember that when I found them, I thought, “Who are these children?” But slowly, I fell in love. I can list them off by heart and name off random facts about them. I can even sing some of their songs. Yes, their songs are in Korean, and no, I don't speak the language.

The first time I remember SHINee helping me was when I was going through a rough patch in school. My friends were slowly abandoning me time and time again. One of my friends said to me, “People would like you if you actually put time into your appearance.” Another just up and stopped talking to me, so I’d just put in headphones and listen to SHINee’s song, “Why So Serious?” The song was my go-to. The music was so catchy and upbeat, and the boys were all dancing around a girl singing about how everything will be alright.

I do look up lyrics from time to time in order to find the original meaning. I also watch dance practices over and over because they are entertaining to watch. The performance the members put on is so inspirational in itself, and regardless of what the boys were going through, they always put on an amazing show.

I once found a video of them performing “Why So Serious?” in the rain. The audience and camera crew looked so miserable, and the rain was so bad that water was pooling on the stage. If it affected SHINee, they didn't show it. They performed my favorite song with ease and their joy was contagious. With their inspiration I moved on, found new friends and continued my life.

Then the bullying continued. People in my classes would ridicule me because I was always listening to SHINee. Some of my new friends would say, “I don't know why you like them, they are just pretty boys.”

I started hiding my love for SHINee. If I liked something, I would keep it to myself. This changed me as a person: I felt ashamed. But I grew, as we all do, and soon high school was a distant memory.

Flash forward to 2016. Starting college meant I had ditched the shorts and just started dressing like everyone else. My confidence grew, and I started feeling like I knew who I was. Then something amazing happened. SHINee announced a world tour.

I was ecstatic. I messaged all my friends about it and soon plans were made to see them in person. Instead of seeing them through a computer screen, I’d see them in real life. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The whole drive up I was jabbering about how it didn’t feel real. It felt like some sort of dream, or even something that would happen to a different person. I didn’t think I would ever be that lucky. When we got to the theater I was in a state of denial.

As the lights went down the theater roared. I could feel my excitement bubbling over as the concert began. Then, it happened: SHINee walked out on stage. The moment hit me like a bus. I was here. I had made it. I had grown past all my insecurities. I saw the boys jump on stage and I got to hear all my favorite songs. It was amazing.

Almost as soon as it had started, they hit the end of the concert. I didn’t want it to be over, but I knew it was coming. The boys said their goodbyes and walked off stage, then the lights dimmed and a video started to play. It showed all the hard work SHINee put in for their fans, starting with their first ever song and ending in the present. Within the first few seconds of the video, tears started bubbling up.

“What is this? I wasn’t sad,” I thought to myself. It was the most involuntary reaction. I knew what was happening though — we had both come so far. I turned to SHINee for everything, and just then, I realized how much we had grown.