It's Okay to Not Be Okay
I'll set it straight. I am not of fond Korean dramas. With my bias, clearly, this series didn't convince me to prod myself to watch several episodes in rapid succession. I just watched one episode at points that I had literally nothing to do except to inhale and exhale and blink my eyes.
Nevertheless, this series was successful to hook me until its last episode. This Korean series has a lot of things to unpack. Each episode left me grinning or introspecting. I will not be doing a film analysis like a mise-en-scene elaborations. I'm simply here to share my major takeaways of the series. But, probably, there would some bits of semiotic analysis here. Let's start!
1. Fear is life's Mr. Quality Assurance.
Fear is a natural part of human experience. Is it important? I would give my biggest YES! Having fear in our system allows us to momentarily pause and think if events or circumstances will endanger us or will lead to any undesirable consequence. In some cases, fear is an automatic response of our physiology to signal us that we are probably in danger. Fear is a checkpoint we all have to stop by. Ultimately, it's normal.
In this K-drama series, major and minor characters had to face various fears. Sang-tae feared butterflies. Sang-in feared bankruptcy. Seung-jae feared job loss. Pil-ong feared sound of gunshots. Many more characters showed fear.
In each step of our life decisions, we always have that fear acting as a resistance, making the journey not so smooth. Most often than not, we develop this fear because we don't know what's going to happen even if that fear may have had originated from a past event. It's usually about uncertainty. We fear the uncertain consequences of things and of our decisions. We fear the uncertainty of being able to handle the same pain from the same person, event, or stimulus.
That's why comfort zone is about not going beyond that wall of fear. Once you smash and disassemble that wall of fear like a wrecking ball, you expand your space, your horizon, your perspective, your experience, your life. In the demolition, you may get hurt. Confronting fear may mean making mistakes, getting wounded; but it's all part of widening your life's breadth. So, it's now a choice. Face the fear and break it up. Or, face the fear and build it up.
Nevertheless, fear can be unhealthy. It may lead to consequences that shall stagnate one's life forever.
2. Life is all about Relationships.
Dr. Ji-wang provided the core message of the series. He said:
"People stick together because they're weak. We lean on each other like this. That's what makes us human."
When Dr. Ji-wang said, "We lean on each other like this."; he made a gesture using his index fingers, similar to the photo below.
This is a symbolism of our need to connect with others, to experience life with a company, to build relationships.
Therefore, the essence of a human is the relationship he or she makes with others.
Of course, every thing comes with a caveat. The relationship you are going to make is like picking which apple to bite. It is dangerous to bite one that made Snow White fell into a deep slumber. Well, you might think that you are a strong person. You need not a support. You can do things at your own. You feel and think as invincible and independent. Well, congratulations! But at certain junctures, there are walls of fear that will be too gigantic and massive for us to dismantle all alone. No matter how frequent we motion our wrecking ball parabolically to and fro, it will never be strong enough to demolish certain walls.
We are only strong because the wall is small. But the truth is, walls are not getting smaller. They are getting higher, thicker, and tougher. Here comes the good news---- relationships offer more wrecking balls to surpass these walls. Isn't that beautiful?
Being with others torments you. But if you break up, it going to be equally painful. If both situations feel like death, wouldn’t it be better to suffer together?
3. It is a strength to acknowledge your fear.
The weakest person is one who does not acknowledge fear. Meaning, we have to carefully and honestly examine the life we live. Lao Tzu said, "He who conquers himself is mighty." In the scripture, 2 Corinthians tells us that we are strong when we are weak.
It is a truth that we are a consequence of our decisions and actions. But that is a partial truth. The whole truth is, others are also consequence of our decisions and actions; and vice versa, we are also a consequence of the decisions and actions of others. Life is best expressed as set of Venn Diagrams. Our own bubble, whether or not we like it, intersects with others' and vice versa.
In the series, Gang-tae tried to be strong by not acknowledging his fear which only led him to turmoil. He just kept on running away and ending up on the same wall of fear. Little by little, he learned more about himself through his experiences and relationship with Moon-young. He learned to genuinely smile. He appreciated how precious laughters are. He kept on retrospecting his life and then, he realized how his fears limited his life. In the same way, Moon-young only conquered her nightmares and fears when she allowed Gang-tae's bubble to intersect with hers. Her life positively shifted when she allowed herself to have relationships and acknowledge her fears. Both of the characters built an illusion of bravery at the back of their minds. The truth was, they were so weak that they needed each other.
Indeed, we have to know ourself. And this is a continuous process. Further, we also have to embrace the fact about life and that is---life is flawed. It is not perfect. We are not okay all the time. And it's okay not to be okay.
It is a strength to acknowledge your fear. It's a way to love yourself. After all, Whitney Houston sings it best...
learning to love yourself...........it is the greatest love of all.