Tag Archives: feels

Unhappy v. Depressed

I live in the default emotion of Happy. You’ll notice it is not the more low-key happy, but neither is it the super hyper HAPPY. I can get to HAPPY. Similarly, I can get to happy, and maybe angry or sad. (Rarely ANGRY or SAD, though.) Generally, though, I am a Happy person. So when I start feeling unhappy, it really freaks me out. Because if I’m unhappy, well, the world is obviously coming to an end. No other plausible explanation exists. (Usually I know I’m being melodramatic.) 

But I’ve been learning lately that even if I am being melodramatic, I need to be careful with the words I use, even to myself. It is far too easy to say ‘I am depressed’ when what I really mean is, ‘I am unhappy.’ And that is a dangerous correlation. The words you tell yourself become how you think about yourself. 

Law school is hard and often makes me unhappy. But if I keep telling myself ‘law school makes me depressed’ I place myself (1) in a category I don’t belong and (2) in a dangerous mental place. Unhappy changes with the flicker of my mood. Depressed easily becomes an identity. 

Maybe it is our society, maybe it is the nature of being human, but we live in a world where people expect you to be happy. We don’t deal well with sadness or anger or melancholy. We don’t know how to react to it. So if you feel those emotions, you automatically label them ‘bad’ and try to move on. Now in saying this, I don’t want to belittle true depression. Nor do I want to imply that trying to move on is bad. What I mean to say is that in my own life, whenever my mood shifts from Happy to Literally Anything Else, I feel like something wrong happened and I obsess until it changes. 

But life is not always good. Stress is not always healthy. ‘Happy’ is not everybody’s default. And even if it is your default, that doesn’t mean you don’t experience other emotions. Sometimes, I think it is okay to just be…unhappy. 

Unhappy may equal unhealthy. But if every time I feel melancholic I jump to, ‘Oh no, I’m in a really unhealthy mental state!’ I fail to appreciate the power of melancholy. Or sadness. Or happy. Or unhappy. 

Emotions play an important role in shaping who we are and how we view our surroundings. But our surroundings are not always happy, and it is okay to acknowledge that and live in unhappy for a time. Unhappy may become depressed, but in my life it hasn’t, and if I keep telling myself it has, I lose the power to appreciate unhappy. Or respect true depression. When I think only ‘Happy’ with occasional ‘happy’ is okay, I lose the wealth of nuance and emotion that comes with being human and having emotions.

God gave us emotions for a reason. He experiences emotion. When Jesus was on earth, he wept. He grieved. He got angry. He rejoiced. He did not remain happy all the time but embraced a range of feelings. If Jesus embraced his emotions, why do I feel like I cannot?

It is not that I like being unhappy. It feels heavy and empty. But unhappy will change. My identity is not unhappy. Neither is my identity Happy. My identity is human created in the image of God.  Which is easy to say but hard to live. 

Law school often makes me unhappy. And sometimes it makes me Happy. Even, upon occasion, I’ve reached HAPPY. But law school is not me. The emotions are not me. This is what I want to tell myself when I’m sitting in my messy apartment staring at the paper that seemed so brilliant yesterday and makes no sense today. This is what I tell myself when I realize I forgot to send that follow up e-mail, thank you card, or reimbursement request. Or you know, do the reading for class in an hour. 

This is stressful. This is frustrating. This is growth. But stress and frustration and growth all exist apart from my happy or unhappy response to them. So what I really need to do is pour myself another cup of coffee, re-write that paper, and do the reading for my next class. Not wallow in misery because I’m not reacting to the stress with my usual Happy. 

To summarize: Amy, be unhappy and get stuff done because eventually you’ll be happy and have stuff done. Don’t focus on unhappy because then you are simply unhappy. And don’t tell yourself you’re depressed because you’re not. You’re just not Happy and there is a powerful difference. 

“But You Didn’t” by Merrill Glass

I saw this poem on Pinterest and it gave me ALL THE FEELS.


A Not-So-Secret Love: My Favorite Korean Dramas

It’s a not-so-secret fact that I love Korean dramas. Given the opportunity to watch an American TV show or a Korean drama, I will pick the Korean one almost every time. I like the storylines that wrap up in 16 or 20 episodes, the general lack of swearing and sex, the glimpse of another culture and the feel of a new language.  I like the strangely obsessive but endearing community that develops around the plots. Korean dramas open up another world within my world; they provide entertainment, yet also express an ethos beyond my familiar Western culture.

 Your favorite stories express something about you. I have predominantly focused on my favorite books.  However, the time has come to announce to the world (or at least my blog readers)….

I really, really like Korean dramas.

Here are my Favorite Dramas* (in descending order)**


9. Dating Agency: Cyrano
Episodes: 16
Plot: The Cyrano Agency provides dating advice and assistance for people with hopeless crushes. They feed lines, arrange meetings, and make true love happen. The leader of the group is a Realist. His latest hire, and the only female member, is a Romantic. Predictable conflict ensues!
I really enjoyed the 2010 movie Cyrano Agency and this drama functions as a “prequel.” Each episode follows a new couple helped by the agency.  In some ways, this show is entirely cheesy and the hero isn’t my favorite. However, the storyline kept me hooked and secondary characters made up for an awkward main couple.


Monstar 2

8. Monstar
Episodes: 12
Plot: When a pop star gets suspended from his band for anger issues, he enrolls in school to change his image. While there he collects a group of musically gifted underdogs around him and together they challenge the school’s musical elites.
High school musicals are nothing unique, but Monstar’s beautiful soundtrack and realistic, psychological portrayal of bullying, abandonment, and hope stole my heart. A very talented group of actors make this comparatively brief drama worth the time.



7. Heirs
Episodes: 20

Plot: A young woman (“the heir to poverty”) follows her sister to the United States from Korea in hopes of a better life but finds herself worse off. During her time in the US, she meets a young man who is the heir to a large conglomeration and part of the top 1% of Korean society. The drama follows their romance and the “friendships, rivalries, and love lives” of the other heirs of Korea’s elite.
Some of my favorite actors (and actresses!) play main characters in this drama. It is hard to summarize because of the many intertwining subplots, but Heirs represents a recent development in K-dramas emphasizing character psychology. Watch it for the bromance, the ugly sweaters, or just plain Lee Min Ho. I think the drama lived up to the hubbub surrounding it.


Sly and Single Again

6. Sly and Single Again
Episodes: 16

Plot: Three years after their divorce, a woman discovers her ex-husband has become the very successful CEO of his own company. She decides to seek revenge on him for leaving her penniless and in debt… by making him fall in love with her again.
This drama contrasts the miscommunication and pain that tear a marriage apart with the power of hope and forgiveness. Despite very difficult, deep themes, it manages to remain light hearted and fun. Yet it isn’t all comedy: the story portrays the very raw emotions that come from a divorce. Really well done (and having the ever attractive singer L play the secretary was not a bad move at all).


Who Are You

5. Who Are You?
Episodes: 16

Plot: After waking from a coma, a detective discovers she can see ghosts. Reassigned to the Lost and Found Division, she seeks to solve the murders of the ghosts whose objects are in the office. At the same time she begins piecing together what happened to her and the detectives that died six years earlier.
Romance, mystery, horror, melodrama, fantasy… this drama has it all (including a very satisfying ending). A very well developed storyline and great acting make this worth the time, especially if when seeking a break from Rom-Com angst.



4. Stars Falling From the Sky
Episodes: 20
Plot: When a self-absorbed, 25-year old woman finds herself the sole guardian of five, adopted younger siblings, her world flips upside down. With no money and no place to live, she takes a job as a live-in housekeeper for her long term crush and hides the kids in the basement. Her employer and his brother are womanizing bachelors with their own painful pasts.
I don’t know how to make that plot sound non-sketch, but this is one of my all-time favorite dramas. It has incredible character change for all the main characters. I love, love, love the sibling relationships. The drama is full of great themes like hard work, independence, and family bonds.  


Master's Sun

3. Master’s Sun
Episodes: 17

Plot: Because of a near death accident, a woman can see ghosts and the they plague her until she solves their grievances. Because of this, she lives on the outskirts of society and barely sleeps. One day she meets a cold-hearted CEO whose touch makes the ghosts disappear. He seems like the perfect solution… but he wants nothing to do with the crazy lady.
I am not typically a horror fan. It took me several tries to get into the story; it starts out pretty scary. Once I began, though, I was hooked. The drama does an incredible job with character development and exploring psychological themes. It balances several subplots within one greater story. I love the costuming: the heroine’s dresses reflect her mental stability. However this drama isn’t only deep and artsy… it’s fun to watch too!



2. Healer
Episodes: 20

Plot: Many years ago, five friends ran a pirate radio station. Then one event changed everything. Now, over twenty years later, two of the original five are dead. One is AWOL. One is a paraplegic. One is rich. It falls to a night courier, a famous journalist, and an online reporter to piece together the clues of their past and unveil the secret of what happened — a secret many are willing to kill for to keep hidden.
This drama is my latest favorite. It combines action, romance, and mystery. The flashbacks are really well done. Unlike some Korean dramas where stupid miscommunication or filler episodes slow down the plot, Healer did a great job keeping the characters intact and storyline moving. This main couple really stood out.


Rooftop Prince

1. Rooftop Prince
Episodes: 20

Plot: When someone murders a crown-princess in the Joseon era (1700s), her husband and three of his retainers vow to find her killer. In the process they get sent 300 years in the future (modern day) where they find a woman who looks just like the murdered princess… only she has no idea who they are.
This drama contains history, romance, comedy, and mystery. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will give you feels. Though you have to battle through bad hair and occasionally slow episodes, the ending makes it worth it. While newer dramas may provide deeper characters, better graphics, and superior twists, Rooftop Prince offers a timeless storyline that is, at its essence, a classic. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it! 

So there you have it, some of my favorite storylines. It has been neat to watch Korean dramas improve over the past few years. If you don’t mind reading subtitles, I strongly recommend giving a drama a try. If you watch Korean dramas already, which ones are your favorite? Have you seen all the ones on my list?

Be prepared. Now that I have unleashed my interest in Korean pop culture, you will see more from me about it!




*These are my current favorites, though I’m watching two right now that might make it on the list at a later date depending how they end (Arang and the Magistrate and Hyde, Jekyl and I)

**Technically, Boys Over Flowers could be on this list. It is the classic, starter K Drama. If you are going to begin anywhere, that is the one to go with. However, it isn’t one of my All Time Favorites and this list is all about me! Maybe someday I’ll make a list of Required Dramas and BOF can top the list.