I don’t usually watch movies. And I certainly don’t go the the theater unless I’m fairly certain that the movie in question will change my life. So when The Perks of Being a Wallflower was first in theaters, I was going to see it, even if the closest screening was 45min away. I ended up going alone since my only friend at the time didn’t want to see a “sad movie” and I didn’t want to see something else. It’s my ability to compromise that wins me so many friends.
I found ‘Perks’ to be one of the most real and most interesting films I’ve seen in a while. I even learned a few life lessons from the experience. The first and most profound of which, is that we’re all broken. Throughout the movie, I saw that each character was relatively normal on the surface, a bit more interesting once you got to know them, and all the while strongly impacted by something in their past. Charlie had been sexually abused as a child and blamed himself for his aunt’s death. Sam had also been sexually abused as a child, and later on in high school. Patrick’s homosexuality was not embraced or even accepted by society at large, and he had to live everyday in a mocking and hateful world. I know people personally that have been abused, suffer from depression, get panic attacks, have PTSD, and live through a myriad of other psychological troubles. I’m sure we all do. This all illustrates that even though everyone looks and acts normal enough, inside we’re all broken in one way or another.
Secondly (and less dramatically), I gained a renewed appreciation for interpersonal relationships. There’s a scene where Sam welcomes Charlie to the ‘Island of Misfit Toys’ as if to say “we’re all broken, but we have each other.” Looking back on the film, I can’t help but think that if Charlie, Sam, and Patrick didn’t have their group of close friends, they simply couldn’t get by. They all needed acceptance and support from one another. I hadn’t thought of friendships as all that important before. Convenient, helpful, overall positive, but not valuable. Never something to invest in and treasure.
Later that afternoon (bills to pay = matinee) I made a list of my friends. I have a few Facebook friends and a relatively low number of twitter followers, but I had a different criteria in mind for this list. The only names would be people that live or work close enough to actually meet up. Essentially, a list of real, viable, meaningful friends that I would actually want to spend time with, rather than just staring at my laptop alone. It was a short list, with only one name. Since then, we’ve had a falling out and so now I’m down to 0 close friends. I know lots of people online and offline, but under this criteria, the list is still at 0. To be fair, this is mostly my fault, I just don’t really want to invest in building up meaningful relationships.
Going forward with the knowledge that we’re all broken, and a partially renewed appreciation of friendships, I’ll at least consider making some changes. I already try to be absolutely open and honest, anything less than that is a waste of their time and my effort. And if I need to be fake, then it’s obviously not real anyway. But I might invest more in relationships and try to consider others enough to entertain the possibility of becoming friends at some point. No promises of course, but I really don’t have anywhere to go but up.