The BTS Effect
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The BTS Effect

BTS: When Do You Hit The Brakes, and When Do You Accelerate? (Contest Finalist)

written by Zara Sofea

As a child, I gave up easily. After months of picking up a new hobby, practicing diligently for hours, earning praise from parents and teachers, I’d trash it in a heartbeat when things became frustrating. Growing up, I continued to do this, especially with school, when I suffered from anxiety and panic disorder. Each morning was a repeated nightmare, and when things got too hard, and I got tired of dealing with it, I’d rest; a break would then turn into absences, and soon, my leave. My relationships with others weakened, my confidence dwindled, and I was soon lacking enough “wins” in life to feel like I was human.

Whether this was a good or bad thing, I couldn’t help but feel weak-willed, as if I should have tried harder to endure things that were no longer working out for me. Things could have changed for the better, if I had only stayed to find out. I kept thinking this, although I knew deep down that I would’ve had to break myself down to manage, entrapping myself in the cycle of “How do I get out? I feel trapped. Can I leave? No, I shouldn’t….”

BTS has taught me how to better predict whether or not I should persevere. To help me recognize whether leaving would make me happier, or whether I should try anyway. There’s a recurring theme in their lyrics that tells me it’s okay to give up. “Paradise” tells me that I don’t have to have a grand dream as long as I’m happy and alive. I can exist, unremarkable and ordinary, without needing validation from anyone else.

In “Trivia 轉: Seesaw,” Suga talks about a relationship where both parties no longer have feelings for the other — an unhappy relationship that exists only because of their unwillingness to be the first person to leave. Yet, he still understands that the relationship isn’t working, and that he has to be the one to step out first.

During a KKUL FM livestream, a listener shared that they’d given up on their dream. Suga replies by saying, “I don’t know what circumstances you were in, but I think you must have had tremendous courage. Giving something up decisively takes lots of courage. And, you’ve worked hard.” We see similar words in his track “Burn It,” in his latest mixtape: “I hope you don’t forget that giving up decisively also counts as courage,” he says (Doolset Lyrics).

These words have always been a huge comfort for me, and I no longer feel like I have to trudge on a path that pricks me with its thorns, because I chose the path on my own. My self-doubts have lessened the more I familiarize myself with Bangtan’s lyrics and their message. As children, we were taught by most not to ever give up. It’s what our parents say when we don’t win at sports or don’t achieve the best grades. It’s what the media says. You see it in your favorite cartoons every day. It’s intended to be encouraging, but as time wears us down, the phrase “Don’t give up” no longer helps.

However, BTS has also shown me the beauty in persevering through challenging times, and how a bleak present could lead to a brighter future. This is done in such a way as to not be patronizing or insincere. Their journey as a group plays out like a fictional story, except that it is in fact real. It’s very real, and feels more personal, as if they’re a friend that you yourself have watched struggle and grow. Their ever-expanding success right now is entirely due to their hard work, and they have never once faltered. Despite going through difficult times, they stayed together and pushed through to become the group we love today. We see mentions of their previous struggles in a lot of their lyrics, along with the thoughts they had to drive them, including “Epilogue: Young Forever,” where they convince themselves to “dream, hope, forwards, forwards” repeatedly (Doolset Lyrics). They declare that they’ll run endlessly towards their dream, even if they fall in the process.

In “Outro: Wings,” I believe that Bangtan uses wings as a metaphor for determination, saying that these wings enable them to “fly.” They rid themselves of regret, fully trusting themselves in order to soar even higher. The lyrics from this track, “I believe myself and that my back’s hurting is for the wings to sprout. I believe you and that though now it seems humble, in the end you’ll leap into a prosperous future,” have been engraved in my mind since the moment I read them, and have reignited hope for my future.

Because they’ve stayed, they’re able to further provide solace for millions of fans, who are all tired from carrying burdens that the world has given them. The world is a slightly better place because of this group. Because fans are able to purge their emotions and fears through music. In “Love Maze,” BTS asks for us to trust them and focus on them in the “maze.” And I realize that light does not have to be my only source of hope. The sound of their voices is enough to guide me. If they ask me to focus on them, I’ll do exactly that.

Through their example, I’ve learned to make better decisions for myself. I can admit my limits, and I know when to stop and take a break. As I mentioned, when I left my first high school, I had many doubts. These doubts were another source of anxiety for me. When the problem didn’t seem like it was fixed, I started to wonder if I made the wrong choice. Now, I can confidently say that I made the best choice at the time. Because soon, I was introduced to BTS, who helped me to overcome these thoughts. They gave me courage. Thanks to them, my anxiety improved. I started getting bolder. At my new school, I signed myself up for a school trip to Japan. It was completely outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t know the teachers or any of the students, as I had only just transferred and was still ridden with anxiety. I went anyway, and discovered things about me that I wasn’t aware of before. I formed new friendships and my confidence grew. It was one of the best experiences in my life, and I could’ve missed out on it if it weren’t for the newfound bravery I mustered up.

With BTS, every step means that you’re moving forwards. Daring yourself to do what you never thought you could, means moving forwards. Backing out, because you know when a situation is ultimately bad for you, is also moving forwards. There is no “right” or “wrong” in the progress you make, and even though it’s different for every individual, Bangtan is an example we should take note of.

This essay was chosen as one of the finalists of the first BTS Essay contest hosted by The BTS Effect. Find out more here.


doolsetbangtan. (2020). Burn It (feat. MAX). Doolset Lyrics.

doolsetbangtan. (2018). Epilogue: Young Forever. Doolset Lyrics.

Suga. (2020). DJ Suga’s Honey FM 06.13.

The BTS Effect Medium page publishes submissions from ARMY about how BTS has affected, inspired, or otherwise impacted their lives. If you’d like to submit a story, please click here for more information. This publication is part of You can sign up for the newsletter here.



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