taeyeon heart

From the beginning, Taeyeon probably never wanted to be the leader. It’s a lot of weight to put on a single teenager’s shoulders, especially since fame and fortune weren’t falling into their laps the moment Girls’ Generation finally debuted. She smiled more, worried more, withdrew more into herself just to try and be the confident beacon she thought she needed to be, not realizing at first that there was a much easier solution.

There’s a popular saying about how those who are most fit for leadership are usually not the ones who pursue it. And that is exactly how Taeyeon was able to point the way forward past obstacle after obstacle, even as she stumbled and struggled to stay on her own two feet: because Girls’ Generation didn’t need Taeyeon to be any kind of leader besides the one she already was.

taeyeon the vegetarian

In the fandom, it’s common knowledge that Taeyeon tried to step down as soon as the opportunity presented itself — but none of the members would stand for it. Because they knew as well as we do that leading isn’t always about starting the group introduction, or making sure that everyone is out of the dorm on time for the next schedule, or being the first to speak when a dozen microphones are shoved in their general direction.

Leading in the way Taeyeon does is catching those who fall more often than tugging them forward. It’s being the first to admit her own weaknesses so that all of them can grow stronger for each other, and for the future. It’s letting herself become a friend, a confidant, a part of a family woven together by something much more powerful than blood relation alone.

taeyeon peekaboo

Because Taeyeon is nothing if not blatantly honest. Her every word, every expression, every action may be the result of careful filters developed over years in the industry; but her sincerity shines through, for better or for worse. It’s why we — fans who may not be on the same hemisphere, let alone the same physical vicinity — are still able to tell whether she’s sad and melancholy, or laughing and enjoying a quiet day in with Ginger and Zero.

There’s a trust in the truth that Taeyeon reveals to us — with her words and expressions and actions — that we would be loathe to break. Because if we can’t let her be herself, what is she here for, really?

taeyeon freedommmm

What we’re able to see now is what Taeyeon revealed to her members from day one: that she’s a human being just like the rest of us, with dreams and regrets and an ultimate wish for happiness. It’s these traits that made her feel inadequate, that made her hesitate even when she was shoved into the spotlight (she only wanted to sing, but it’s a tough dream to chase, and she’s so, so grateful for each of her members — wouldn’t one of them be better standing up here instead?). And yet, it’s also these same traits that made her into a leader to be admired and emulated for generations of Hallyu to come.

Taeyeon didn’t get to where she is today, didn’t achieve her small wish of singing and much greater grander things, by being anyone other than herself — regardless of whether she’s with her members or her fans. And that’s why we can, with full confidence, wish you a happy birthday, Kim Taeyeon, and know that you’ll take our words to heart.

taeyeon wow i miss your smile

Source: Taeyeon’s Instagram
Written by: moonrise31@soshified
Lyrics translation from SonexStella@soshified