Do you remember being a teenager? Perhaps you still are one, in which case, good on you! Enjoy it fully, never regret, be weird, love life, laugh a lot, find a community, travel, run, be free and unhindered. It is the best/worst time of your life.
A while back Drew and I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a film based on the critically acclaimed novel by Stephen Chbosky. As we sat, tucked under blankets, stuffing our faces with chips and guacamole, I was surprised at how connected I felt to the young characters that graced the screen.
I guess I really shouldn’t be all that surprised, that book changed my life.
When I was seventeen I spent the summer entirely away from home. I went to Europe, traveled to see friends, worked every day I could and then spent two months working at a camp to keep myself “away”. Even though I was underage I was granted the right to stay in “staff housing”. You guys, this was big deal at the time, though truly I was more responsible than most of the “adults” who lived there. I was on my own and it was amazing.
My roommate during that time was a woman I still hold as a sister in my heart, despite the fact that I haven’t seen or spoken to her directly in several years. Caro, the South African beauty, became my solace, my comforter. She listened, guided, and loved me through some of the most difficult times in my life. And it was she who gave me The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
I devoured the pages in a matter of days. I understood the boy in the book, I felt his pain, I knew what it was like to be “different”, longing for acceptance. I struggle (even now) with depression and anxiety, seeing it portrayed in the words beneath the pristine covering knowing that people could talk about their struggles without judgement gave me hope and helped me to know I wasn’t alone.
The fact that someone I trusted so thoroughly understood my heart so completely and loved me, no matter how much of a hot mess I was, changed the way I thought about friendship, love, and acceptance. I had felt guarded for years (something I am still working on), scared of opening up to people for fear of judgement or worse their pity. Caro, showed me acceptance. A gift I now cherish, a debt I can never repay, and am comforted in knowing that I don’t have to.
If you have never read this book, do. Or if you are lazy (no judgement) rent the movie, it’s pretty great.
I have used this quote before, but I will say it again, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Know you aren’t alone, know you are loved and accepted. My heart is with you and I’m always here if you need me.