A reflection on “The Perks of being a Wallflower”


Last night on the train home I finished reading The Perks of being a Wallflower and had a moment where I, like Charlie, felt like I was Infinite. I didn’t need to ride through the tunnel but if there was a tunnel and I had a car with an open roof I would probably love it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book that makes you question everything you take for granted and like Charlie, you begin to feel everything with a keen intensity and doubt everything you know to be true. I feel angry and sad and wonder about everything and feel very very disillusioned.

In the last couple of weeks I have been told that I’m too idealistic, lack finesse, too something. I don’t understand why I cant have my cake and eat it too. Why can’t I be a professional and a mother and a child and a woman and travel and do everything in between. What is the point of life if you can’t have it all? Maybe in ten, twenty years’ time I will be able to settle for just one of these things but right now I want it all.

Charlie’s journey in making friends and his exploration of his feelings lead him to discover that his Aunt Helen who meant so much to him molested him when he as a child. It is through this discovery that he is finally able to let go of his sadness and his breakdown helps to heal those repressed memories. His self-discovery and intense experiences force you as a reader to look into the abyss of your own repressed feelings and question what you have been hiding from yourself.

The last 10 months away from home have changed me more than I care to admit. In some ways I am exactly the same, in other ways I’m unrecognizable. I think I’m better at dealing with people and understanding situations, and I can now see that I don’t always do. Which I didn’t before. I can see that reality is far removed from my naïve 23 year old ideals and I probably won’t get all my hopes and dreams…but why is it so wrong for me to try? I think a degree of hopefulness and a positive yearning for the future and all you hold dear to you is refreshing. What is the point of ruling out options before life even begins.

Charlie is such an intelligent boy and so close to his sister. He reminds me of Boo Radley, a kind innocent soul, a mockingbird who has done no one any harm. He reminds me a lot of my brother who a teacher once said ‘has not a single malicious bone in his body’. My brother once got so sick of someone accusing him of doing something he just agreed to it for the sake of peace. And that’s so much like Charlie in so many ways.

This book makes me think about my family and what I would do for them. It makes me think about people who have touched my life and touched my body, with or without my permission and how that affected me. And I am glad that I wasn’t a child. I’m so so glad that I was stronger than Charlie because life is so good, on the other side. I spoke to a girl recently who does a lot of hard drugs and it made me so grateful that I have never touched anything more than alcohol. I’m more than happy to be that lightweight girl who just has a couple of wines or lolly drinks and is sorted for the night. Even that, is hardly necessary when youre with people who are fun and make you happy. I don’t need alcohol to dance and I feel like life is so beautiful in itself why do you even need ice or coke or anything to make it better? On the other hand you have the polar opposites, the ones who believe that life is not worth living unless its serious and you colour in within the lines. I hate that. Rules are made for breaking, I want to skip not walk, I want to dance.

I may seem like Alice in Wonderland but I would drink that bottle over and over again if it means I get to live in a land that has a Cheshire cat and a Mad Hatter because at least I’ve been there and you haven’t. I recently had a chat with a friend from work who gave me an example from a South Park episode to explain that everything people tell you is based on their histories and the advice they give you is based on their past, whatever that may be. It harks back to a quote from the Perks of being a Wallflower – Be a filter not a sponge.

At a point where I lack experience in life, in my career, in pretty much everything – this is easier said than done. Everyone seems to know so much more and it’s easy to absorb peoples good advice and their negativity at the same time. So maybe it’s okay that I laugh like a child, maybe it’s okay that I run instead of walk, and maybe..just maybe it’s not so bad that I am a child and a woman at the same time and someone will respect me for that. On one hand I almost want to be more sophisticated, I want to speak with class, walk like a lady, appear to have that finesse that few possess. But I want to want this for me, not for someone to want me. And that’s what scares me.

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