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House of Cars Vol 4 & 5: Put a Bow On It

Photo Contributed by Matt Spadaro, Asst. Ad Manager

VOL. 4 
Hyundai Motor Company today may as well be a different company altogether from the one many used to know: a purveyor of shoddy automobiles synonymous with basic, no-frills transportation. The South Korean automotive conglomerate, comprising the prominent Hyundai brand of vehicles as well as fellow South Korean automaker Kia Motors, is currently in the throws of launching a dedicated luxury arm called Genesis.
To any mildly interested automotive enthusiast, this isn’t news; Hyundai has launched two generations of the Genesis sedan under its own nameplate already as their attempt to foray into the luxury market. Many automotive media outlets acclaimed the first Genesis, launched in production form for the 2009 model year, a valiant first effort for a company formerly known for plasticky, slow and rough-riding budget vehicles. Hyundai kept the momentum up by introducing the flagship Equus and, subsequently, the second-generation Genesis. Fast forward to the present day, and the second generation Genesis and Equus (called the G80 and G90, respectively) will lead the charge of the independent Genesis brand. That effort has trickled down into their more affordable vehicles too, which are largely considered best sellers in almost every class. All it took was decades of effort and billions of dollars.
I have had a distinct level of respect for Hyundai since they committed to building better cars around the mid-2000s. In my humble opinion, this began with the 2005 Sonata and the models launched very quickly after; this included the Elantra, Santa Fe and Tucson. These cars got the attention of Toyota and Honda buyers, and were chock full of features while still undercutting the Japanese giants on price. 
Their status as an alternative quickly graduated to first choice for many buyers by the end of the 2000s, and now Hyundai and Kia build some of the best cars in their class. Even those who aren’t fans of the brands will usually admit that they make a great product. I sat in a fully loaded, turbocharged Sonata Sport during the last auto show I attended, which was rendered in a gorgeous metallic ocean blue over supple black leather upholstery. It was – and I’m not joking for a second – one of the most impressive vehicles I’ve encountered in a very long time. It had no business being as nice as it was. The exact effect it had on me is what I imagine Hyundai has been gunning for over the last decade, and I am cheering for them for achieving it. They put it the time, the work and the money; they deserve it.
In recent times, I’ve begun admitting to myself that I am very impatient, however unintentional it may be. The Hyundai-Kia example has been at the forefront of my mind when I slip into thought about where I’ve come from, where I am, and where I’m going. It took Hyundai a decade to get into tip-top fighting shape, yet I struggle every minute of every day with it not happening overnight for myself.

VOL. 5
I have never felt my age. Ever. It’s almost as if I had impatience pre-programmed into me prior to my birth. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be in middle school; when I was in middle school, I wanted to be in high school; when I was in high school, I didn’t even bother wondering about college, as I already wanted to jump right into the world of the auto business. College to me, though the most enjoyable time of my life thus far, has at the same time served as a buffer of sorts. I constantly feel like I’m rounding a corner, finding the break I need to be successful, only to be smacked back down by something I can’t — or won’t — control.
I often wonder how much sleep the people who made Hyundai and Kia what they are today lost from similar feelings of stagnation, compounded by the fact that billions of dollars rode on their decisions.
And yet, I also wonder if they knew tackling one specific issue would solve all of the others, bringing the tall barriers they faced crumbling to the ground. At the time of this writing, some weeks away from my 21st birthday, I finally feel like my mind may be forcing me to deal with that one issue of mine. That one thing that would make every other shortcoming or hardship a little bit easier, make me able to mentally sort out my everyday life. That untouchable topic is my weight, the hole in my armor that could be tapped with a feather and bring all of me crashing down. It has permeated my being since I can remember “being,” and I’m unsure of why I was handed this. Regardless, everyone is dealt cards they don’t want and it’s my cross to bear.
My typical day begins with spending way too much time getting dressed for fear of a single inch of me looking out of place, something I thought losing a marginal number of pounds last year would alleviate. Fat chance, and thanks in advance for allowing me one bad pun. It then moves into me overcommitting myself to tons of different things to the point that I cannot focus on myself, half on purpose, something both long-time and new friends like to point out for me.
I then typically drink too much coffee because I read somewhere in the seventh grade that it forces everything out of your system and I usually make time for one more on the way to class. And I kind of hope I don’t even see anyone because I’m in no shape to talk to them because this is going to be another bad day isn’t it, and I can’t talk about it either because I’m a guy right, it’s my fault that nothing works because I’m a guy and that must simply mean I’m lazy but I’ll check a mirror eight hundred times before I go to sleep and here I am in a multi-million dollar house on Spring Break with 10 of the people I love most in this world not able to escape even here, here in this beautiful place with no responsibility because I tried once again to work out with regularity before this trip and it made little to no impact as usual and I’ll just continue the vicious cycle and I hope to God one of the guys doesn’t say something during this week and that I can just escape it without hearing an innocent joke that will haunt me into my 30s because that very same God knows I’ll still be doing this then if I can’t figure out a way to change things and I know I need help but that relinquishes control and I can’t have that, not when I’ve built a more beautiful wall around myself and this issue than any lunatic presidential candidate can promise but can I really do this for much longer because I know the people around me must be getting just as tired of it as I am, absolutely exhausted of it and me, and I can’t bear to know that I’m hurting them, even annoying them with this issue that I can’t escape and if I lay my head down tonight without caving to late-night eating I might feel fine tomorrow but then again I could solve that problem if I just ate enough at the right times instead of convincing myself not to because I’m utterly incapable of following my own advice no matter how put together I look.
And then I wake up and repeat the cycle.
I am by no stretch an unhappy person. I am blessed in ways that can’t be purchased with family, brothers, friends and experiences. But I can’t help but imagine what might be if I was able to get myself to a place physically that would negate this being an issue mentally.
Putting it on paper is cathartic, healing. Just like I did a little over a year ago in this very newspaper in a mental health essay series called “TEN,” it’s time to acknowledge in black and white that it’s time to move on. I am lucky to be who I am, I’m lucky to have who I have, I’m lucky to look the way I do and I’d be lucky to have one-hundredth of the opportunity and resources that are afforded to me. I am lucky to have my grey Impreza to drive, even though it isn’t a Genesis, Lexus LX570, Mercedes-Benz S550 or any of the other high-priced luxury cars I’ve explored in this series. I am lucky to be breathing and healthy, even if I may not have the exact figure I hope to one day call my own. About any other challenge I’ve faced, I’ve always told those around me that I’d rather smile than frown and I’d rather laugh than cry. As one of my favorite professors likes to say, in reference to the number on a scale or some infinitesimal irregularity in the fit of my clothing, it’s time to put a bow on it and send it on its way. It didn’t happen overnight for Hyundai, it happened over a decade. They fought for ten years to “arrive,” and I will too. Soon.

To provide a more up-to-date perspective given that I wrote this in many pieces over a long stretch of time, I’ve recently found success and am feeling great again thanks to brothers and friends around me putting in time and effort to help me get where I need to. For that, I am ever grateful. If you or someone you know struggles with issues regarding body image or dysmorphia-related anxiety, resources are available through CAPS at (864) 656-2451.

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