When I discovered J-Pop Idols online, for the firs time in my life I felt inspired to work towards something more passionate rather than go through the robotic process of doing whatever I had to do to simply get by. At first glance, I thought some of them were talentless hacks. “How can people like her? Her vocals are terrible!” or “I don’t get how adults could get into this stuff…” were the thoughts that were running in my mind. But after getting to know more about the culture, I started comparing the girls to myself and I actually resonated with their struggles.

Regardless of their mess-ups, it was endearing to see them develop over time and grow to be not only stronger performers, but also stronger individuals. For it wasn’t the music nor the aesthetics that reeled me in but their sheer willpower and drive to accomplish more. That kind of connection is something I could have never felt if I supported western artists because in the media, they’re portrayed as more polished and perfect in comparison to J-Pop Idols who had more of that girl-next-door kind of vibe. My singing was terrible and my dancing was sub-par but I figured if they could do it, surely I could, right?

Impoverished, I didn’t really have the resources nor the funds to do this kind of stuff. I got frustrated at my circumstances because I wished I had formal training (I was 15 years old at the time, mind you). I also had immense trust issues and found it hard to rely on others so I took it upon myself to venture out and try whatever I could just to gain an iota of experience. A lot of my knowledge is self taught and I immediately knew that I was going to cringe at whatever attempt I could muster though I didn’t want to let my insecurities stop me from trying.

I never wanted to do this alone so I joined different groups and later created my own. Despite dealing with anxiety and being triggered all the time, my main priority was growth. I only cared about whether or not I could find a sense of self through performing so I figured that if I could be satisfied with myself that’s good enough for me. Selfish as that may sound, it didn’t mean that I didn’t care about others. In fact, meeting friends and netowrking with like-minded peope was motivation enough for me to continue. With each person I encountered, I learned more about who I was just by listening to their stories and getting to know them on a deeper level. I could see myself in every person I met – even those I wasn’t necessarily fond of.

What ultimately matters to me about an idol is not a pretty face to look at nor the cute aesthetics but their overall aura. Personality is important and attitude is everything since, after all, those are the things that will show through their work ethic in the long term. So if I could inspire those to realistically follow their dreams, not by what’s marketable but through genuine self expression and authentic connection, then I believe it’s absolutely possible to revolutionize the way we look at idols and the culture itself. In order to attain this, we must be truly honest with ourselves and challenge our limiting beliefs. Nothing comes easy but by overcoming those hardships I think that’s what makes or breaks an idol.

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