Confessions of a Former Exo Fan: Why leaving the Exo fandom was the best decision of my life

Exo with 12 members.

[The following post does not reflect any views or opinions of The Kpop Outlet or kpopoutlet.com]

So, I was a fan of Exo. Key word: was. What prompted me to leave the fandom? It’s a long story.

It started in 2012 when Exo’s first teaser was released. At this point I was waist-deep into K-pop, and had no intention of wading out of its murky waters. I had two thoughts about the first teaser: one, Kai is a really good dancer, and two, he really looks like SHINee’s Taemin. My initial awe wore off though, because the number of teasers kept growing and growing with no debut in sight. So I turned my nose up like the snob I was and dropped Exo, going back to fangirling over B2ST and Infinite. But things changed when “What is Love” and “History” came out. I ran back to the Exo fandom, and practically exploded with feels. I began drowning, and I didn’t even realize it.

Things were great for a while. After Exo made its debut with “MAMA” and had comebacks with “Wolf” and “Growl,” I was sure of the members’ success. Despite the hate of netizens, I stuck up for my boys. It was okay that I didn’t see them on any shows in the beginning. In fact, when they finally went on shows like Mnet’s Beatles Code 2 and MBC’s Weekly Idol, I was happy. When they got their own “reality” show, I was ecstatic. Although Exo’s Showtime definitely wasn’t reality (come on, Keeping up with the Kardashians is more “real” than that) it gave me and countless other fans a front seat to witness the personalities of the Exo members.

Point is, I loved them. Exo was my everything. It was extremely unhealthy, but I got used to obsessing over them; in fact, I put not only academics, but my family and friends after Exo. Exo was my first priority, and to some girls (and boys) out there, it still is.

On May 15, 2014, the day of my AP Micro and Macroeconomics exams and shortly after the release of “Overdose,” I found out that Kris had filed a lawsuit against SM. I was shocked; it didn’t sink in for a while. When it did, I was devastated. I even cried a few times. Yeah, I know, I was one of those stupid emotional fangirls. I supported him, and hoped that the dynamic of Exo wouldn’t change. It did, though. The members were visibly more tense, and I trusted both them, Kris, and SM a little less. I was losing faith, and fast.

Kris, former Exo member and former Exo-M leader.

Then Baekhyun’s dating scandal came out. Of course I was happy for them (are they even together anymore?) but there was a part of me that hated it. Not because I expected (or wanted) to end up with Baekhyun, but because as a fan, I had this image of him cemented in my head, an image I didn’t expect to change. He wasn’t capable of having a girlfriend, heck, he wasn’t even a man in my mind. I got over it, though, as I tended to do. I assured myself that if he was happy, so was I. Nothing was the same, though.

Exo’s Baekhyun, an Exo-K member.

These scandals drew me away from Exo, though, to the apathetic position I’m in today. After a while I began feeling tense whenever I saw Exo on blogs or K-pop news sites. I expected the worst every single time, and so I made a decision to step away from K-pop. Going away for the summer helped a bit. I found a lot of myself, and didn’t tie my identity to the actions of these people who didn’t know I existed. I became happy again. And when Luhan filed a lawsuit against SM, I expected it. And frankly, I didn’t care. I just hoped that everyone would be happy in the end. My feelings ended there; I wasn’t personally affected.

Exo’s former member Luhan; former member of Exo-M.

Today, Exo is just a bunch of boys who share a dream. And while I do not wish them any harm, I’m definitely more cautious and make sure to keep my distance. I’ve seen how much I’ve gotten sucked into K-pop, into a world with people and personalities that don’t even exist. I stay away. And though my time in the world of Korean pop “idols” has been great, it’s coming to an end. I’m growing up. And I’m okay with that. It’s about the music, after all.

Leaving the Exo fandom has been one of the best decisions of my life. No longer am I caught up in the drama and struggles of some delusional fans. I’m also able to watch friends who are obsessed with certain groups grow up. I can share my experiences with them, and you all, and that makes me grateful for my journey. I am not discouraging you from liking K-pop. Definitely not. Go ahead, fangirl. I know I did. But don’t let a love for someone you don’t know dictate your way of life. Make sure that you’re fangirling is healthy, and make time for friends and family.

So, just one more parting thought: what kind of fandom name is “Exo-L” (Exo-Love)?! After two years of suggesting fandom names (my personal favorite was “Exotics”) SM went with THE MOST unoriginal fandom name ever. You should’ve given the people something artsy at the very least SM, like “Casseiopia” (DBSK) or “ELF” (Super Junior). Point is, I do not want to be an “Exo-L.” Thank you.