12 Times Tablo Gave Us Precious Life Lessons

When he’s not busy making music, collaborating with numerous artists, or touring the world with fellow Epik High members Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz, Tablo graces us with wisdom through his social media, in his literary works, and even during interviews. The gifted artist seems to know exactly what to say because we end up relating to every spoken or written word he sends our way, which makes him one of the most inspirational personalities beyond the world of music.

While we can’t fit every single piece of advice that our favorite mentor has shared over the years, here is a selection of the most relatable life lessons that Tablo has blessed us with so far.

1. On understanding youth’s struggles

“These are the pieces of my youth, the small secrets and the not-so-great expectations that defined my coming of age. But through this craft, through my love for writing, I discovered a world outside of the small windowless one I had built for myself; a world of softspoken beauty. So here I am, choosing to kick away the ladder so that I may remain at your side. I understand your solitude, I see your shadow.”

From Tablo’s 2009 book “Pieces Of You”

2. On the essence of happiness

“I wrote, almost stream-of-consciousness, a list of reasons why I must live… reasons I want to wake up the next morning. What I saw was that many of the reasons were things people would generally consider to be trivial. So I realized, maybe happiness is to be found in the little things that surround us, and that what we really require to overcome our problems may be all around us.”

From the “Fever’s End” commentary film

3. On embracing responsibility

“When you go independent, if you fail, you’re totally responsible for it. If you succeed, you’re totally responsible for it. But the thing is, you are responsible for who you are. And what you do, and what you make. And I believe that that is the most important thing – at least for me on a personal level. I’d rather fail and be responsible for it than succeed and not be responsible for it.”

From a 2011 MTV interview with Tablo as part of “The iggy special Report on K-Pop”

4. On channeling talent

“Some are born gifted and some give birth to their own gifts.”

From a now-deleted tweet on Tablo’s official Twitter account

5. On the core of strength

“To be strong is to understand weakness. To be weak is to have fears. To have fears is to have something precious to you. To have something precious to you is to be strong.”

From one of Tablo’s spoken blonotes on “Dreaming Radio

6. On coping with unfulfilled dreams

“We still use the word ‘love’ when describing an unfulfilled love, but why do we call an unfulfilled dream a failure? I think both are things we can do with our hearts. There are times when I discover something that makes my heart beat faster, and instead of thinking with my head, I feel a confirmation in my heart that makes me think ‘This is my dream. This is what I should dedicate my life to. Interestingly enough, love has little to do with results. Even after experiencing a painful love, we tend to see the good times when we look back. I think it’s centered around a process. On the other hand, we tend to see dreams through a results-oriented lens. When we experience failure while pursuing a dream, we don’t think about the process of our efforts. I hope everyone finds their dreams the way they find love. If your dreams don’t go as expected, don’t blame yourself for the result. Treat it like love.”

From a lecture Tablo gave at the “Youth Arena” cultural festival

7. On cherishing memories

“‘I reminisce not to dwell in the past but to practice for a future worth remembering.’ This blonote is one of my favorites, I tend to reminisce a lot, I tend to dwell in the past, I tend to think back to better times and, you know, it’s easy to brush that off by saying you’re getting older or the past isn’t important, look ahead. And I’m actually someone that’s always looking forward and moving forward, but I think it’s important to think back to better times even if those memories cause you a bit of pain, there are a lot of memories that I’d like to forget, but forgetting them also requires me to lose the beautiful parts of it, and I think it’s important to think back and to remember back and to reminisce, to turn around every once in a while, because surely there is gonna be many more memories in the future and that’ll prepare you to try to make better ones, better memories.”

From the “Blonote” commentary (English Edition)

8. On tracing a career path

“Something that troubles many of us is that our parents made huge sacrifices for us, right? Like they clothed us, fed us, educated us, gave up on their dreams sometimes for us, The problem is that we feel like that can only be repaid by accomplishing something or becoming something that they want. What I realized when I became Haru’s father, when I became a parent, I fed her, clothed her, I made sacrifices for her, I work really hard for her, but I don’t expect her to repay this somehow by becoming something or by accomplishing something. All she has to do to repay that is smile, really. Our parents probably started off the same way, they did many things for us, not expecting anything in return except our happiness, and then slowly, they may have forgotten about it, the world and people around them may have made them forget. Making effort to show them how happy you are, if they can’t do what they expect of you, and maybe they’ll remember that’s all they wanted from you.”

From Tablo’s “Subtle Asian Traits AMA” Youtube session

9. On coming to terms with one’s mistakes

“When you try to build something, you’re gonna have a situation where it breaks. Nothing that you can build in this world is gonna last forever. Although the lyrics may sound depressing to somebody, to me it was a very optimistic thing to say because, yeah, we have a broken past. Things have not gone the way we wanted it to, but it was because we tried to build a better future. We tried. I think that is something that’s very important to me just overall, not just about love, but even outside of the song. I believe firmly that people should be allowed to make mistakes and that people should be allowed to break as long as we understand that they were trying to build something.”

From a 2019 MTV interview with Tablo about Epik High’s “Sleepless in __________”

10. On achieving self-accomplishment

“Every bit that makes up who I am I gained through hard work, against immeasurable odds, despite insurmountable opposition, and often with great pain. This is how I learned to love every bit of myself.”

From a tweet shared on Tablo’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts

11. On the importance of maintaining well-being

“In Asian families, it was deemed a noble or dutiful thing to not sleep and study, or to not sleep and work hard. It’s a very unhealthy mindset to have because your mind and body needs rest for you to be productive. In Korea there was this thing that if you got a nosebleed while you were studying, it was like a badge of honor. But it’s not: it’s a badge of sickness and a badge of you not treating your body right. Growing up in that generation, even if you didn’t want to study and do something else, I think that work ethic was driven into your head so early on that even if you start doing music, arts, or figure skating, you go all in. When it works out it’s great, but looking back I think it’s a dangerous mindset.”

From a 2019 Buzzfeed interview with Epik High about “Sleepless in __________”

12. On staying true to oneself

“It’s very difficult to know what ‘self’ even means anymore because (of) the way the world is right now. Everything that we do and we are is somehow connected to others, it’s within different communities or gatherings, because the internet, social media and all of this. It’s really hard to truly know your place. But luckily for me, I’ve always been sort of in my own world, ever since I was a kid. I am blessed with a personality where I have never really been afraid to be myself and many times that has worked against me, because not everyone is gonna like who someone is, not everyone’s gonna like everything about you. For you to be open enough and for you to be self-confident enough, to truly be yourself, means that at times some people are gonna be against that, and some people are not gonna approve of it. Many times, because we are afraid to deal with that kind of negativity or try to get validation from these people who obviously don’t really care, we often sacrifice bits and pieces of who we are, and then it goes on and on until one day you’ve become someone that you are not. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with a personality where I was always myself, and I was very, very strongly myself. When I was faced with negativity — I was faced with a lot of negativity in many many occasions, where at times it threatened to destroy my life — but I think I’ve always held on to who I am. I’ve never really given up on that. It’s not easy.”

From a 2019 Stanford Daily interview with Tablo on music and society

Which life lesson affected you the most? Let us know in the comments below!

Esmee L. is a Moroccan lively dreamer, writer, and Hallyu enthusiast.

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