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Six stages of grief—the ‘unable to attend a K-pop concert’ edition

“I failed as a fan,” said the four-month-old K-pop stan after not being able to secure a rare photocard of their bias.

For most people, particularly those unfamiliar with the so-called fan culture, this behavior may (understandably) come across as excessive—or maybe even irrational. But you see, in the imaginary handbook of K-pop stanhood, there are levels to being a fan. And getting upset over a photocard? That’s merely the equivalent of being a college freshman: cute, naive, and has yet to see the worst. 

If you want to graduate with flying colors, you have to go through a lot more heartbreak and drama than that—such as not winning a spot in fan signing events despite bulk-buying albums, getting ratioed for your delulu posts, or seeing your faves get roasted on social media for a minor voice crack or a choreo slip-up (because for some reason, everyone turns into professional critics when it comes to K-pop).

But as somebody who unapologetically prefers authentic live performances (and by that, I mean those stages that truly showcase their raw vocals and powerful stage presence) over any other idol activities, I would say that the hardest part of being a K-pop fan is missing out on your bias’s concert.

Because in my nine years of being one, my concert attendance can only be counted on one hand… and with a couple of fingers to spare. I’ve passed up on my fave’s concerts for more than I can remember, so trust me when I say that the existential crisis that comes with it will put you through the five (plus one) stages of grief.

And considering the crazy amount of K-pop concerts and events coming to Manila and Bulacan in the next few months, I’m pretty sure that a lot of Filo fans are struggling with the same exact thing right now. So, if you’re one of us—and are looking for ways to navigate this emotional chaos—here goes a guide that will (somehow) help you through each stage.

Stage 1: Denial

Ah, the warm and falsely comforting cocoon of self-deception. You trick yourself into believing that this wouldn’t be the last time they’re visiting the Philippines because they love Filo stans too much to not go back. (Source? The voices in your head.)

You start saying things like, “It’s okay, I can definitely catch them next time!” while secretly checking your bank account every five minutes—hoping for a miracle deposit to appear. 

“It’s for the best that I’m not going this time. After all, financial responsibility is essential,” you say, nodding your head vigorously while ignoring the fact that you just blew your monthly budget on a pricey latte.

How to deal with it: You need to channel your inner motivational speaker. Stand in front of the mirror and give yourself a pep talk. “You are a strategic genius. You’re not missing out. You’re investing in the future. This is only a warm-up concert for the grand and life-changing experience they’ll deliver next time.” And yeah, that latte was absolutely worth it. Caffeine is the fuel for success.

Stage 2: Anger

Soon, the facade of denial crumbles, and the reality sucker-punches you in the gut. Karen may eventually take over your body—ready to point fingers at anybody and anything. You blame your biases for holding a concert at a time when your funds are gasping for air, their company for their capitalistic tendencies, and yourself for not being born into a wealthy family.

Your Twitter drafts are most likely filled with rage tweets like, “Kasalanan ’to ng gobyerno eh. (This is the government’s fault.)” Even you aren’t sure how the government fits into the equation, but hey, who cares about logic when you’re mad?

How to deal with it: There’s no other way around it—embrace the anger and vent. Rant to your co-stans who are probably going through the same ordeal. Scream into a pillow. Or write a strongly worded letter to your idols, their agency, and even the Congress… just don’t send them. Watching cat videos and keyboard-smashing are nice options, too. They’re actually hella therapeutic.

Stage 3: Bargaining

You’re desperate at this point, and you’re willing to make deals with anyone who can potentially get you into that concert arena. You begin calling your parents every day, being extra helpful at home, and occasionally slipping in remarks like: “It’d be amazing if I could go to that concert. I’d be so happy. And happy kids make great grades, you know?”

Calling upon divine intervention becomes your last-ditch attempt, especially when buttering up your parents doesn’t work. You pray to whoever deities have a soft spot for broke K-pop stans. You even consider getting your tarot cards read because what if they can miraculously manifest a ticket?

How to deal with it: Hey, bestie, practical solutions work best. You should keep things grounded in reality. What you need is a financial intervention, not a divine one. Besides, bargaining with your parents and making deals with the supernatural are rarely reliable, so why not redirect the energy into something that’d actually bear results?

Negotiate with yourself. Maybe there’s a way to cut down on your expenses or find additional sources of income. Get a part-time job, sell stuff you don’t need, or start a small side hustle. Who knows, your dedication might even impress your parents (or other possible sponsors) enough to pitch in. 

Stage 4: Dejection

So, the bargaining didn’t work. Now, you’re plummeting into a pit of despair so deep that even the loudest and most energetic K-pop songs can’t lift you out of it. You start binge-watching your bias group’s live performances, but instead of feeling pumped up, you find your eyes watery. 

Plus, your social TLs are filled with emo quotes. You’ve become a K-drama protagonist—minus the perfect hair and makeup. (And you listen to ballads on repeat for added effect.)

How to deal with it: It’s okay to wallow in self-pity for a bit. We all need a good cry now and then. But—and this is a big but—here’s a pill you need to swallow: You can’t stay in this stage forever. You have to snap out of it and find a healthy outlet for your emotions. 

Take a break from K-pop stanhood to do something (preferably non-K-pop) that can bring you genuine joy. Maybe it’s painting, journaling, playing video games, or starting the novel you’ve been wanting to write. And for Pete’s (or Jungkook’s) sake, leave the tissues alone for a while.

Stage 5: Acceptance

You’ve (fucking finally) come to terms with your situation. Life goes on, and you can’t dwell on what you can’t change. You even muster up the strength to congratulate your co-fans who are attending—though it’s through gritted teeth and a smile that feels more like a grimace. 

You also begin to realize that missing out on concerts may be tough, but it’s not the end of the world. If you were able to survive advanced algebra and physics with three functioning brain cells, you can certainly get through this concert drought, too.

How to deal with it: First of all, give yourself a pat on the shoulder. You’ve reached a level of maturity many K-pop enjoyers struggle with achieving. Try venturing into other aspects of stanhood. Rediscover your love for their discography and probably develop a newfound appreciation for the lyrics, nuances, and overall artistry behind each song—including those forgotten B-sides. K-pop is vast, after all. There’s always something new to keep you engaged.

Stage 6: Revenge

You thought we’re done at the fifth stage? [In Cruella’s voice] “Well, I’d like to add one more: revenge.” This is the time when you build yourself up—so that when the next concert does roll around, you’ll be in a better position to enjoy it to the fullest. Your goal is clear: You’re going VIP (preferably by the barrier) by then—no matter what it takes. (And I know deep down, you want to have that K-drama-esque eye contact with your bias.)

So now, you’re on a mission to save as much funds as (humanly) possible. You cut down on all non-essential expenses. Fancy coffee? Who needs it when you can easily make a cup at home? They serve the same purpose anyway—to prevent you from sleeping on your responsibilities. Dining out? Suddenly, home-cooked dishes are gourmet. Those cargo pants you were eyeing online? Nah, your wardrobe is just fine.

How to deal with it: While having such resolve is commendable, don’t go overboard and sacrifice your financial well-being along the way. It’s crucial to strike a balance and set realistic savings goals. Stick to a budget that still allows you to live comfortably and not subsisting on instant noodles.

Remember, revenge is best served smartly. (Just don’t forget to pray and manifest that your fave idol groups don’t disband until then—because who knows what will happen while you’re waiting for the next tour.)

And most importantly, let this newly developed financial discipline spill over into other areas of your life. You might even have to thank your biases for inadvertently teaching you about responsible money management.

Read more:

Uncovering actress (and BTS ARMY) Shaira Diaz’s fangirl story

How I went from being a K-pop skeptic to a superfan

Filipino K-pop stans fear for safety following theft incidents: ‘We want to be safe again’

Photos from Kleo Catienza


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