By Baylee Kaye | @bbkaaaye
When I first discovered NCT I was a girl who was slowly starting to rebuild herself. I had just moved to a new part of the country and was recovering from a time of turmoil and anguish that I hoped to leave behind me. I was afraid of public perception and opinion as if one wrong step could leave me humiliated in front of everyone. Frankly, I was just timid and overly aware of the eyes around me and what the world thought of me. Back then I wouldn’t dare do anything that could put attention on myself even in the slightest sense. But for me, NCT opened a door of newfound joy and release.
I came to know NCT during the spring of 2016. My best friend had shown me “The 7th Sense” music video that had been released a few months prior and I was thoroughly impressed by the song and the people I saw dancing on my TV screen. I downloaded the song to my phone and life went on with the occasional listen here and there. A year later my same friend showed me Ten’s “A Dream in a Dream”, a song that I would later sing as a lullaby to someone I held dear. At that moment I was captivated by Ten’s movements and the lyrics resonated with me as I held their simplistic sweetness close. I found myself listening more as time went on. As the days turned to a year I had pushed the songs from my conscious memory until early 2018 during Empathy era. I remembered the feeling of listening to “The 7th Sense” and a new wave of curiosity rushed over me as it became fresh and full of new meaning.
The summer of 2018 was a turning point for me as I can vividly recall the emotions I felt. I would stay up late having my own private dance party, physically shaking off the insecurities that bounded me. NCT became a source of comfort and a beacon of light as I learned how to enjoy things without relying on the people around me to have fun. NCT gave me the confidence to go out and do things I would normally be hesitant to do. Suddenly I was no longer someone who felt like everyone’s eyes were on me, but a truer version of myself. I had stepped out from behind the curtain I hid behind for so long and embraced the outgoing nature that I had been too afraid to express. I was more inclined to reach out to others as NCT became a conversation starter when people noticed the lanyard I always carried with me. I formed connections with strangers, classmates, and even coworkers, with whom all of us shared a common interest. NCT connects and unites people from every corner of the world under one community.
One of the most pivotal moments in my journey occurred on May 2, 2019, at NCT 127’s concert in Dallas. For a while I was settled on not going, thinking I wasn’t able to score a ticket but was surprised for my 18th birthday. My sister, albeit not fond of K-pop, accompanied me that night. She took charge of videoing everything for me and gave me space to authentically relish the moment in front of me. The girl I was before that was once so aware of everyone
around her was suddenly dancing, jumping, screaming, and failing to sing her best in Korean as there were hundreds of people surrounding her. At that moment I felt true freedom. Free from the weight of insecurity and anxiety and I was able to truly live and experience life how it was meant to be; a life with no chains. NCT had and will always have a purpose and a meaning for me. They’ve been an aspect of my life at just the right time and it is not coincidental. They have helped push me into reaching outside my bubble and do things without hesitation. That night I danced without a care in the world. With my light stick in hand and eyes fully focused ahead I was able to repel the pessimistic mindset I held over myself. Some may say I depended on NCT to be my happiness, but I don’t believe that to be true. NCT just played a role and made my transition from being reserved to confidence more enjoyable and bearable. They showed me what it’s like to live without fear or restraint.
NCT has a greater impact than what meets the surface. I know that people all across the globe can relate to the fact that their music and presence inspire and uplifts others every day. Their positivity, ethic, creativity, and perseverance encourage fans to reach for their dreams no matter how difficult they may seem. For me, I owe them thanks for showing me what it’s like to be care-free and dance like nobody’s watching. They changed my life, simple as that.
Please be sure to also check out NCT’s Beyond Live concert recap here!
Thumbnail: Doyoung, @kramhateehc