The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. It is one of those books that you can read over and over, and yet still get something new out of it every single time. It explores life from the point of view of Charlie, a shy high school boy with a troublesome past. The book is written in a series of letters to a "friend" (we never learn who he is writing to) and guides the reader through Charlie's beautifully complex mind. Charlie's letters offer a wide range of lessons that can apply to anyone's life. Here are just a few of the lessons I have taken from the book, with the quotes that brought me to them.
1. Life moves forward no matter what, whether or not you choose to go with it.
"Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn't stop for anybody."
Things won't always be as they are right now. Life goes on, and you may lose some people along the way. The important ones will stay. Recognizing this is crucial, but accepting it is even more so. Don't get so caught up in something or someone that you let life start to pass you by.
2. Live in the moment.
"Enjoy it. Because it's happening."
"This moment will just be another story someday."
Appreciate every single moment, especially the happy ones, because when they become memories you are going to want to remember that feeling. No exact moment happens more than once.
3. Participate in life to the fullest.
"Standing on the fringe of life...offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor."
If all you do is watch life happen around you, rather than participate in it, are you really living? Take a leap, get out on the dance floor and see life from a new perspective.
4. Don't overthink.
"Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life."
Thinking before acting is important, don't get me wrong. Thinking stops us from doing potentially idiotic things, but it can also stop us from doing amazing things. Don't let the fearful voice in your head stop you from living up to your potential.
5. Sometimes it is OK not to be OK.
Sometimes there are things that you need to work on, and that is totally normal. Recognizing this is important to finding your happiness because you can see what you need to work on and actually do something about it.
6. You need to value yourself before others truly can.
One of the most iconic quotes from the book. No explanation required.
7. It is important to recognize the difference between doing anything for someone and doing everything for someone.
"I would die for you. But I won't live for you."
Know the difference. You need to live for yourself. If you find someone that you would do anything for, and they will do the same, great. But don't make someone your whole entire world, because then where do you fit in? Hold on to your sense of self. After all, it is the one thing that is entirely your own.
8. You don't need to know everything about everything.
"It's much easier not to know things sometimes."
Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.
9. Keep an open mind, but don't buy into everything you hear.
"Be a filter, not a sponge."
Take in only the good, and filter out the bullsh*t. Be willing to learn from others, but also willing to form your own opinions, rather than simply listening to what everyone else has to say.
10. Happy memories can get you through hard times.
Reminiscing on happy times can bring back smiles when they are most needed. It makes the uncertainty of the future a little less frightening. In the case of Charlie and his friends, nostalgia offered some comfort when the uncertainty of graduation seemed daunting. As a soon-to-be college graduate, this really hits home. Take the time to be nostalgic with the people you love if there is a frightening change ahead. It offers a sense of stability and allows you to hold on to the happy memories of the past. Still, don't get too caught up in it that you get stuck, and forget to keep moving forward.
11. Your past is not your future.
"But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from we can still choose where we will go from there. We can still do things."
Your past has no determination over where you are headed in the future. If you want to change things, you can. You just have to realize that.
12. Accept that life is a constant process of figuring out who you are. Be nothing but yourself, even if it takes you a while to figure out what that actually means.
"I'm going to do what I want to do. I'm going to be who I really am. And I'm going to figure out what that is."
Take the time to get to know yourself. It may take a while, but you will get there. Don't let others define you. Only you can do that.