Before I departed for summer vacation, some campus banners drew my attention. The catch phrase for the “Stop hating your body” campaign quoted a poem: “Beauty is seen only through careful inspection. Loveliness is awakened only through lasting observation.” The same is true for you! In the midst of Koreans’ cosmetic surgery fever, this campaign was fascinating for its novelty and encouraging spirit. Indeed, the intrinsic value of many people, objects, places, and events will be brought to light only by looking in a careful and lasting way.
Quite a long time ago, my family drove to Niagara Falls, relying on paper maps. We went sightseeing from the U.S. side of the Falls. Trekking from the top to the bottom of the observatory tower, cruising in our raincoats on a boat, and getting very wet from powerful mists, we literally were awed by the panoramic scenes. Satisfied after a couple of hours sightseeing, we left for the next destination on our agenda. After the trip, we cherished our memories, talking about how big the Falls were, how exciting it was to cruise underneath it, and how enjoyable the trip was. That’s it.
This summer, my family returned to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, this time with a two-day agenda. With the monotonous female navigator’s guidance, we arrived at a hotel by the Falls in the early afternoon. Walking around and inside the Falls, looking down from the revolving tower, observing it from very close and far distances from dawn to dusk, and having dinner surrounded by the illumination that lit the Falls in rainbow colors, my family had a jaw-dropping and adrenaline-fueled travelling experience. While coming back from this trip, we could not stop recounting detailed and rich descriptions of the fireworks, the changing views at every moment, and the thrilling experience of touching the water from inside the Falls. The trip triggered even more curiosity and motivation to get to know about the size, scope, history, and behind-the-scenes stories of Niagara Falls. Close observation with a longer stay made us recognize the hidden value of the Falls and elicited reflections, joy, excitement, and memories on a mammoth scale, all of which was missing in the short first visit.
Because I had visited once, I naively assumed that I knew Niagara Falls very well as I prepared for the second trip. On the contrary, given more time and the opportunity to closely observe the Falls, I realized what I knew was only a fraction of the paramount truth. Likewise, we believe we know about ourselves more than anyone in the world when in reality we know only a tiny part of the entire self. Korean youngsters, furthermore, have been misguided to abandon their own value and beauty at the expense of their uniqueness. Some seem to believe they should be others. They even regard cosmetic surgery as kind of a must-do mission in getting a job or finding a spouse. Regrettably, they seem not to have had a chance to carefully look at themselves.
We have downgraded ourselves into cookie-cutter objects manufactured by a factory, seeking to upgrade “SPEC” in our qualifications. We absent-mindedly choose A’s SPEC with B’s appearance, waste time imitating what others are doing, and ignore the beauty and value inside ourselves. How much detail can you provide when stating your strengths? How fast can you list achievements that you have made? Are there any your life events you have already forgotten because they seem not to be precious? I ardently welcomed the campaign, “Stop hating your body”. The closer and longer we look into ourselves, the more value we will find in the self. Let’s keep our chins up!