It’s okay not to be Okay finally ended its series last Sunday – and it’s okay. There were no thrilling, mind-boggling, and shocking scenes that gave the audience a heart attack. It ended lightly but has embedded lessons that forever change the way we look at fairytales and mental health.
It’s Okay not to be Okay Plot
It’s Okay not to be Okay is a 16 episode South Korean romantic fairytale drama that tells the unconventional story of Kim Soo-hyun (Moon Gang-tae) and Seo Ye-ji (Ko Mun-yeong) whose lives were permanently linked since childhood. It tackles about emotional and psychological wounds that spring from cases of parental abuse, murder, and trauma that they must confront as they become adults.
Difficult Lessons learned from ‘It’s Okay not to be Okay’
Probably one of the reasons why a lot of Netflix viewers got hooked on this series is because of the unconventional lessons that came along in each episode of the series. Lessons that can serve as a modest self-help book to many who are, as well, struggling with traumas and personal battles usually left undiscussed at the back of our heads. And while it’s too good to be true kind of Kdrama series, at least it was able to achieve its goal: of providing healing and comfort in this time of pandemic.
Here are some of the difficult lessons that It’s Okay not to be Okay left us with:
1. Life is not a fairytale.
If ABC’s Once Upon a Time changed the way we looked at the characters of the fairytales that we’ve grown with, It’s Okay not to be Okay gave us a chance to inspect the hidden morals of these fairytales. In the early part of the series, writer Ko Mun-yeong taught us to go beyond our concept of witches and princesses: that sometimes, it’s the witch that’s pretty and the princess is the one with a hideous face.
2. It’s not necessary to hate the one that can’t love you back.
I have always been a fan of second leads. That’s why my heart keeps breaking for Nam Ju-ri at the beginning of the series because no matter what she does, the leading man can never love her back. But instead of plotting evil plans and cultivating grievances, she confronted him and told him to let her do what she wants – to allow her to care for him from a distance and to look after him, as these are her means of coping up.
This time, It’s Okay not to be Okay taught the lesson that sometimes, it’s okay to still feel love and not hatred for the person who keeps on invalidating our feelings. We don’t need to badmouth them, nor hate the one that they like. We just have to accept that some feelings are not meant to be reciprocated. And it’s fine.
3. Your imperfections don’t define you.
Instead of focusing on its gothic theme, It’s Okay not to be Okay moved us into a deeper sense of premise by tackling mental health conditions and special needs. Like the iconic Miracle in Cell Number 7, it challenges the viewers to break the stigma and connotations with regards to persons with special needs. It deliberately showed the difficulties (and distaste) of growing up with a brother who has autism and the unspoken reality of people’s preconceived misconceptions about cases as such.
4. We will always be our parents’ children.
While the lead characters suffered from trauma because of their parents, Nam Ju-ri grew up with a loving and very supportive mother. There’s a particular scene in the early episode of the series where she was sulking in her room and crying her heart out and then there was her mother, frustrated with her childishness. While there’s really nothing special about that, but I guess it’s moving how we can actually show our real colors to those whom we love – that we can act silly and cry for no apparent reason in front of them just because. And no matter what age we are, we will always be children in the eyes of our parents. Fake or real.
5. We can’t choose our parents.
Unlike friends, we can’t choose our parents. And unfortunately, there are those individuals who are not totally prepared for the road to parenthood; hence, they do things that can cause trauma (or suffering) to their children. However, no matter how terrible our cards are, we can also use our aces to make things better.
6. We can’t run away from our demons.
Butterflies can take different forms – and all the same, they are the demons that hang around our heads, make us question our existence. And just like Moon Gang-tae and Moon Sang-tae, there will come a time when we have to stop running away from things that keep on haunting us. It’d be difficult, but unless we find the courage to accept what we can’t control and face head-on the fears that we have, they will stay with us all the days of our lives.
There’s a particular line that the Director of the Psychiatric Hospital said that really stuck with me: it’s about time to leave that ‘stage’. It’s actually the same line that Dr. Kim of Romantic Doctor2 said to his fellow doctor who has been having trouble forgetting a traumatic bus accident. It goes like this: it’s about time to get off that bus. So, if there’s something that has been long dragging you, maybe it’s about time to leave it. And move on.
7. There will always be someone who will love you no matter how horrible you feel you are.
In the later part of this Kdrama series, leading actress Ko Mun-yeong asked the mother of Jun-ri why was everyone so nice to her. Even if all she did was bitch them. But just as Jun-ri cannot stop herself from liking Gang-tae, there will always be people who will be drawn to our character, no matter how flawed we are – our parents, friends, and even those people whom we are not close with. They stick because there’s something that they can resonate with us.
But most importantly, the best person to love us will always be ourselves. And unless we get to accept our imperfections, we can’t expect others to do as well. That’s why when asked whom he loved the most, Sang-tae or Ko Mun-yeong, Gang-tae answered “myself”. Self-love people, self-love.
8. Bad days will always be there.
Bad days are essentially part of our lives. But according to the Law of Misfortunes, there’s a set of amount of happiness and misfortunes assigned to each one of us. If your life has been filled with misfortunes, it only means that happiness is already waiting at the end. Remember, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.
9. You need to tell someone to relieve your stress.
Support groups are fundamentally important to keep our sanity and well-being. We have to express what’s bothering us – or else, we will be slowly devoured by the negative feeling that we are keeping inside. If you can’t say it, find a venue to pour out yourself. Write. Sing. Dance. Do Tiktok if you must.
10. It’s okay not to be Okay.
More than anything else, we have to embrace what we feel – for whatever they are, they are valid. And it’s fine if you don’t feel okay, to say that you are okay. Accepting what we feel is the first step to healing. So let go of those tears. Stop holding that laughter. Break free from what is holding you back. Who knows how far you’ll go once you’ve cut off those chains?