What ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’ has taught me.

One book, many messages. This is what The Perks of being a Wallflower taught me - Michalah Francis

My initial response to finishing any book is usually always the same:

  1. stare at the cover,
  2. think about what I have just read,
  3. think about how I feel about what I have just read,
  4. write a review if I liked the novel,
  5. strategically place it on the perfect spot on my bookshelf,
  6. then stare at my book haul pile while I think about which book I could read next.

That last part hasn’t happened with this book yet. I haven’t found the perfect spot on my bookshelf, because I’m still carrying the book with me, and ever since finishing it, I haven’t even thought about which book I’m going to read next. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is like that hot guy you just can’t get over. He was so close to perfection that you’re hung up over him. Remembering the good times, and the good feelings. And the bliss of your time together.

That’s currently happening to me, except there’s no hot guy, there’s just a 231 page novel that’s silently staring back at me constantly reminding me of our experience together.

So what has the novel taught me?

Besides a whole bunch of lessons about friendship and love. This novel has mostly taught me about myself.

Being a young adult is not easy. How am I supposed to be young and be an adult at the same time? And while I use it often, the term annoys me.

YOUNG (adj) having lived or existed for only a short time.

ADULT (n) a person who is fully grown and developed.

How can a stable existence be based on the simultaneous presence of these two things? How am I supposed to have lived for only a short time, but also be fully grown and developed? And do they mean ‘grown’ and ‘developed’ in the physical sense, or in the physical and emotional sense? Or maybe even the physical, emotional and mental sense?

After graduating with a degree and being let out into the world, at the age of 21 we’re expected to know what to do, and who to be. But no one has really explained it to us. My friends and I are constantly discuss the fact that we all look like we have our lives together, when really we’re just taking each day as they come and hoping that we won’t be knocked down today. We’re all playing this game called “Adulthood”, but none of us really understand the rules. We all just pretend that we do.

Is this scary? Hell yes. Can we change it? Not really. But after reading the Perks of Being a Wallflower I think I now know how to handle this “adult” thing a bit better.

In 231 pages I’ve learnt that it’s okay to be me. Whoever that is. And whatever version that is. That it’s okay to be the only girl in my circle of friends who wears a blazer paired with lace socks and brogues, while everyone else looks like they just stepped off of a hipster runway. It’s also okay to rather want to spend my money on books and stationary than on new sneakers and a coat I’m most likely only going to wear once. And while all these things are okay for me, it’s also okay for my friends to dress like runway hipsters and spend their money on coats and sneakers and new tattoos. Because while one thing is okay for me, the opposite is okay for you.

The Perks of being a Wallflower taught me that it’s okay not to have a set identity, but instead, to change my hair and my make-up and my clothes as I learn new things about myself and then continue to change just because I want to.

We’re all playing this game called “Adulthood”, but none of us really understand the rules - What the Perks of being a Wallflower taught me - Michalah Francis

The novel taught me to be okay with whatever anyone says about me. It’s natural to get upset and feel hurt when someone judges me, but after I feel these emotions I need to let go. Why? Because at the end of the day that person isn’t judging me, they are judging the version of me they have in their heads. And often the version they have in their heads isn’t even the real me. So let them judge, what does it matter if the person they’re judging isn’t even the real me to begin with.

Finally, The Perks of Being a Wallflower taught me to be unapologetic about who I am. So what if I’m slightly obsessed with books? Or get really excited about stuff when I speak? Or that I often don’t have a filter, I just blurt things out? Or that I like really good coffee when as a book lover I’m supposed to like tea? All of these quirks make me who I am and I shouldn’t be self-conscious about any of them.

So, it’s okay to be me. Whoever that is.

And it’s okay to be you. Whoever that it.

And it’s okay for your friends to be your friends. Whoever they may be.




  1. This is beautiful and nearly brought tears to my eyes. As a twenty-three year old recent graduate who is trying to figure out what the hell to do with her life, this really spoke to me. I want to feel that same confidence in myself, my identity, and my life. I also really love this book, but I feel like I need to go back and re-read it. It may be the perfect book for me at this point in my life.

    1. Thanks so much Michelle!
      So many graduates go through the crisis of trying to figure out what to do next, no one speaks about it but a lot of us feel it. I take comfort in knowing that we are not alone. I would definitely agree that you should re-read the book. It’s amazing how books can convey different messages each time depending on which point in your life you read them.

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