This funny, inspired, and heartfelt movie blew us both away. It follows the freshman year of Charlie, a troubled and quiet teenager who has had little interaction with people his age. He meets siblings Patrick and Sam, and as the plot unfolds, opens up and overcomes many of his struggles. The film touched us in many ways and struck a deep chord within both of us, for a few reasons;
It showed how we can feel like spectators of our own lives. Charlie, the main character, has had little interaction with other people. He is quiet, lost in his thoughts, trying to understand himself and his place in the world, by observing and analysing everything going on around him. For many people, that feeling can be a reality: insecurity, bad experiences or trauma fill them with fear or doubt: they don’t feel good enough to speak their opinions, to connect to others or to stand up for themselves. They feel unable to take action, to speak their thoughts and to take control of their lives. They observe the world around them to understand it better, rather than participating in it and living. They are, as the movie title hints, as a wallflower: they look out to the world from their fixed perspective, feeling disconnected and separate.
It showed how we can focus on others too much, forgetting to take care of our own selves. Charlie wants to make everyone around him happy, however he is unable to help himself. As children, we learn to validate our behaviours through the people around us: our parents, teachers, families. We learn to associate ourselves with external events and factors to make our decisions and formulate our opinions. But although many learn to disassociate themselves as thew grow older, some are still unable to trust their own judgements and their own instincts. Instead, they live their lives based on what they assume others may think and on how they may be perceived. They show love to people around them, however do not take care of themselves, do not follow their inner voice, do not follow their deepest desires. They spend their time and energy caring for others, for their families, friends or colleagues. They fail to take care of themselves, of their minds, their bodies and their spirits. They don’t understand what makes them tick, what makes them feel good, and what drives them.
It showed how we don’t always feel deserving of love. “We accept the love that we think we deserve”. One of the most memorable quotes from the movie, this simple sentence perfectly explains why many date the wrong people. They don’t feel worthy of love, don’t believe that love exists for them, don’t imagine being good enough. So they settle. They settle in the wrong relationships, with the wrong friends, in the wrong careers. At some point in our lives, we all feel unworthy and undeserving, and we let it affect us in many ways, at a conscious level but also at a subconscious one, letting people and events take advantage of us.
It showed how we all have unique talents and gifts. Charlie discovers a great love for music, for reading and for writing. He is encouraged by his English teacher to follow his love for words and to write his own short stories and eventually, novels. We all have our own amazing talents, however many of us do not develop them. Instead we participate in activities, jobs and careers that help us to fit in, when in fact, we were born to stand out. How many people do you know that are actually following their dreams, that take time to do things they truly love doing, and use their gifts to help people around them?
It showed how we can glimpse at times at how amazing we are. Even the most unaware person can glimpse at times at how we are not the sad story that we tell ourselves. We all get moments like these in our lives: moments when we feel on top of the world, we feel amazing, we feel fulfilled. Many people find this fulfilment through external factors: relationships, food, alcohol, exercise, etc. In these cases, the feeling will be short lived. True long-term fulfilment comes from following your heart, being yourself, and making steps to create the life you want, in every single aspect of it.
THE PERKS OF BEING YOU
The feelings and emotions portrayed in the movie hit a deep chord in me. It felt very close to home, and am sure will do for a number of gay men. It reminded me of we can feel separate from those around us, our lives and the people we love. During our childhood and teenage years we observe from a distance and learn to fit in by adapting our personality and appearance. We keep a safe distance between ourselves and the rest of the world.
Some of us learn to validate ourselves by external signs of happiness: expensive clothes, a perfect body, financial success, lavish parties. We look at others to love us, to fill our own lack of self-love. We don’t always feel deserving: we subconsciously bring ourselves down for being who we are. Many gay men I know, including myself in the past, fall into the wrong relationships with the wrong people. We settle for a small portion of what we really want, because we don’t believe that we can or in fact are worthy of anything better.
However, we all have many magnificent gifts and talents. Us gay men have paved the way in many industries, many fields, many arts. We have developed a unique sense of self-deprecating humour and have shown the world an openness of mind that has helped shape our society. Each individual, gay or straight, male or female, has something to offer the world. It is up to you to take full advantage of it, to create your own unique niche, to be yourself. Once you let go of the need for external approval, of your fears and that you truly follow your heart, you will discover just how amazing you are.
WE ARE INFINITE
We left the cinema remembering what life was all about: about following your dreams, connecting to yourself and to others, and finding your fulfilment. We both realised how grateful we were to some of our close friends for showing us the way to find love within ourselves, and helping us see the love around us. In my case, my fantastic friend, Founder of The Velvet Journey, Tony, who helped kick start in me a will to create the life of my dreams: fulfilled, balanced, healthy and happy.
We are infinite. That is the one final message of the movie that encapsulates just how amazing each and every one of us are. We are all capable of great things, once we learn from our pasts and commit to a better future. As was said in the movie: “We can’t do anything about where we’ve come from. But we can do something about where we go from here.”
Will Pike – October 2012
Tony and myself are running our “Be Yourself, Change Your World” 1-day workshop on Saturday the 3rd of November. We will cover many of the topics mentioned above: self-love, acceptance, confidence and direction, to help you create a life of your own design. For more information and to book your ticket, click here.