Sunday, July 13, 2014
How others see us
There are a few things in my life that other people have told me I have to experience because they're "so you." When I was in high school one of those things was the TV show Daria - all through ninth and tenth grade I'd had people tell me "you are so Daria" or "you sound just like Daria" or "stop ripping off Daria." I never saw the show until after my senior year and was perplexed - yes, I guess I do have a lot in common with Daria but am I really that cynical? Is my voice that monotonous? Is that how other people see me? The other thing that people kept insisting I needed to do was read The Perks of Being a Wallflower because I was clearly Charlie to them, and when I finally got around to reading the book a year ago I had to admit that they were, in some ways, right - I was precocious and bright in high school, I was antisocial and occasionally unexpectedly violent, I was introverted and weird. But being Charlie isn't a good thing - Charlie is a broken, extremely damaged human being and again I had to ask "Is this how other people see me?"
I'm trying to get over giving a shit what other people think of me but it does pull me up short when a friend compares me to some fictional character: you want to take it as a compliment but it's really hard to and it makes you reexamine yourself as well as your friendship.
I've enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower both times that I read it: Charlie's voice is sad and hopeful and bright and reads realistically. The world can be stunningly beautiful through Charlie's eyes and the friendships that he has are lovely and delicate things. But, if you're the kind of person who has heard "you're so Charlie" it might be a bit of a painful read for you, especially if you really ARE similar to Charlie. And that's the bitch of the thing - Charlie's life in high school actually has more going for it than mine did. So, overall, it's a good read but maybe a bit depressing if you're even a little bit broken.
Chbosky Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Gallery Books. New York: New York. 1999.