To get us started off on the right foot, let me just say that (probably like you) I was a teenager who did NOT “crush on” celebrities. I looked at other girls with passions for movie stars or pop idols with the sort of horrified fascination they, in turn, surely felt for my fashion choices.
It was a point of pride with me that I wasn’t a “typical teenager”–blissfully ignoring all the evidence that there was no such thing.
I didn’t date, didn’t follow pop culture, and though I certainly pined for various boys over the decade I never *did* anything about it. In fact, I had a leg up this not-being-a-teenager thing: nothing about it appealed to me at all.
Then I read a very intriguing book about under-18 transplants to foreign countries (which I was from 13-17) that suggested such young people often put off their adolescent rebellions until 25 or 30.
Was something going to hijack my brain (much like I heard happened when people let themselves do the romance thing) and completely change me and my personality?
I had a few moments of real serious worry, scattered over the next few years, and then this faded into the Garret of Unhelpful Information at the back of my mind.
Cue the entrance into my 20something life of: K-Pop.
I got there via a certain amount of nostalgia for Asia, determination to not watch American TV (some things never change), and a realization that a girl could not live on books alone.
Anyway: at around 24 or so, I fell in love with a hyperproduced pop culture that ranged from miniseries dramas to music to reality TV. And I become totally enamoured of a boy band rapper with the subtle moniker T.O.P.
I was both bemused and amused at my dawning comprehension that I had a crush on him. Moreso as I came to realize he was not some little-known talent, at least not in his own nation. He was a successful media star.
It took me a couple of years and a hindsight perspective to realize that the abandon with which I was investing myself in this pop culture scene, despite my usual mode, was probably that delayed teen-ness I had been promised.
But…I was at a point in my life where I was safe to be a little silly, to explore areas of my interest and personality that I hadn’t really noticed before.
I’d been so committed as a youth to Serious Things like writing novels, learning a new language, helping my kid siblings grow up safely, that I’d kept the easy narrow definition of my interests–fantasy fiction and literature, with a little history and cultural education. And now it was okay to have a little play time.
And you know what? People don’t lose all respect for you just because you have a slightly silly interest–everyone has one of those (be it acknowledged or denied). It gives you something to talk about.
I’m sure that’s something that the “typical teenager” was figuring out while I was being anti-social and pretending my conversation was too sophisticated for the masses.
*** This Belated Valentine goes out not to TOP, who has faded into a first-love memory, but all the other lovely late-bloomer k-drama geeks who have become my friends***