First. But not in the immediate association that might come with this description; no, for Girls’ Generation, it’s something more than being at the very top. And Taeyeon shows just what that something is day after day — has been doing so since long before anyone had even heard of this special crowd of kids reaching for stars that shone lightyears away from their fingertips. She put her members first as she took on the mantle of “leader”, pushing and pulling them along so that they wouldn’t stray off the seemingly infinite rocky path ahead. And even when they’d reached what many might call “paradise”, Taeyeon watched carefully still for dark things lurking in darker shadows.
But she let herself step back, because putting her members first doesn’t mean the same thing today as it did in 2007: pushing has slipped into the occasional gentle nudge, and even tugging may no longer be necessary. Rest assured, though: the definition may have changed, but the idea remains as steadfast as Taeyeon’s resolve to put others before herself.
Ink. Not in the tattoo sense, but because Taeyeon has become something permanent. As they enter their tenth year, Girls’ Generation has begun to branch off into what they each do best, and Taeyeon has spearheaded that movement. First with TTS, and later on her own; she has painted her legacy not only as part of Girls’ Generation, but also through her individual voice — soft and strong and full — the only representative she really needs.
Taeyeon has made her mark: one that won’t fade even in the midst of fame’s ever turbulent tides, to the point where her mere presence is enough for those around her to take pause. To SONE and outsiders of the fandom alike, Taeyeon has become someone thoroughly undeniable, whether as part of the nation’s girl group or as a solo artist.
Near. Taeyeon’s tendency to remain on the sidelines may seem to clash with the massive spotlight that she’s attracted, but somehow she’s also managed to strike the perfect balance between the two. She hovers at the brink of awareness, staying behind to let others grow and strengthen, but is still not afraid to step forward — and perhaps is even more willing to do so than before: a calm confidence that she’s only embraced as the years come and go.
It’s perhaps this quiet readiness, this unabashed shyness, that earns Taeyeon respect among all she comes into contact with: seniors or peers or juniors, fans and casual passersby alike. Or maybe it’s the pure normality in how she jokes and interacts even today, as if she’s still close with the starry-eyed teenager she once was. Whatever the case, she’s definitely a comforting presence in a storm of uncertainty, someone who lets people naturally realize the true meaning of “as expected”.
Effortless. How does she do it all? How can she fight and still laugh, retreat behind her walls and simultaneously throw herself out here for everyone to see? Her road has never been an easy one, pot-holed and jagged instead of smoothly paved. But she still smiles through the scrapes, worries over yesterday while still believing in tomorrow. She’s a beautifully crafted, goofy mix of opposites, and she makes it work in a way only she knows.
Happy birthday, Kim Taeyeon. You will succeed this year, as you always have, and you’ll make it look easy, as you always do. But even on those rougher days, we will always be with you: the same steadfast support you have always been for us.
Sources: DABEZTT, Cotton Candy, TangPa, Taeyeon’s Instagram, Flying Petals
Written by: moonrise31@soshified