taeyeon nylon

Picture a warm summer day in 2007, air buzzing with excitement as well as the early August heat. This is the stuff that dreams are made of: the dreams of teenagers who grew up much too fast just so they could have a chance of looking back later, with the pride of walking the road less traveled. Hours of relentless, grueling practice piled into days, then weeks, and then months and years. And now, standing at the cliff edge without even the barest hint of what the world below looks like — time stops, just for a moment or two.

When it starts again, the world is introduced to Kim Taeyeon, the kid leader of K-Pop’s latest up-and-coming girl group. It’s easy to tell that she works harder than she means to — when “leader” is stapled to her nickname in addition to her official position, it’s hard to ignore. But she shoulders the weight behind awkward, practiced smiles and a warm, steady voice that most are surprised to hear from such a small frame. And slowly, as hours tick into days, then weeks and months, she starts coming more and more out of her shell; not because she has to, but because she wants to. Because she is finally living her dream.

taeyeon ineffable moment

The years pass. “Girls’ Generation” is now a household name, and “Kim Taeyeon” is right alongside it. People love her small, soft grins and her powerful, passionate voice that shows feelings instead of simply telling them. She’s the kid leader but in name and nostalgia only, because her members have always functioned the best as equal, individual parts fitting together in ways that hadn’t been thought possible.

Taeyeon has jumped off the cliff with the girls who are sisters to her in every way, and they’re hurtling towards something that’s still imperceptible, especially at such high speeds. But she knows that it will be grand, and brilliant, and much more than they could have ever dreamed of when they were just kids. And as she soars to that indefinite goal, time might slow now and then: little divots when despair hangs heavy in the air and drags everything else with it, or pockets of laughter filled with the warmth of knowing that everything is honestly just right. Any one of these pieces is as important as another — tick marks on a timeline that extends way beyond tomorrow.

taeyeon tangpa

Enter the present. Girls’ Generation has branched out in ways not many others have been able to achieve. Taeyeon definitely sits at the top of public consciousness: multiple years as part of the nation’s girl group, multiple chart-topping solo albums, multiple concerts across Asia. Any variety show she guests in is bound to get record-breaking views, and both fans as well as strangers flock to her Instagram — and even to her dog’s. But Taeyeon still puts life on pause occasionally, and takes us along for the ride: through her spontaneous social media streams and now Taengoo TV, we can see snippets of the Taeyeon from the very beginning, much before she discovered that sometimes, jumping off a cliff means landing on the top of another, higher mountain.

Because that dorky kid leader with the ahjumma laugh and an inexplicable fondness for bathroom humor may have grown up in more ways than many of us will ever encounter; but she’s still here, even after all this time. And as surely as she’s gotten this far, we know that she’ll never leave, even in the years and years ahead of us all.

taeyeon precious soul merong

Along this journey on the road less traveled, Taeyeon has figured out that the best way to approach life — as an idol or otherwise — is to let time pass, but without letting it go to waste. To strike a balance between savoring the days when the sun shines brightly even from behind a wall of clouds, and reflecting on the ones when there doesn’t seem to be an end to the rushing downpour. Because all of these moments, good and bad, should give you pause for exactly one reason: to keep pushing forward to the tick of the clock in your soul, because why should you wait for time, when time waits for no one?

Happy birthday, Taeyeon, although perhaps time is only relative. Because no matter the year, we know that you’ll always be ready to greet it with a goofy grin and a steady heart.

taeyeon yeehaw

Sources: “NYLON”, INEFFABLE MOMENT, TANGPA.COM, Precious Soul Merong, Taeyeon’s Official Instagram
Written by: moonrise31@soshified

Originally posted on March 9th, 2019.