Goeser: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Ana Goeser

A group of my friends has been talking about the long anticipated “Perks of Being A Wallflower” movie that is coming out this week. I have not read the book, but have always appreciated the title for the sole reason that there are, in fact, numerous perks to being a wallflower.

Being a wallflower does not automatically correspond with loneliness or boredom; I think it simply means preferring to observe rather than partake. These are the people at the party who laugh at the jokes, but don’t tell them. Because of this characteristic, many wallflowers lead a colorful life. Those that I know don’t necessarily fit in anywhere but, in a paradox, fit in everywhere. In a college town, with such a large variety of personality types, why is it so great to be one of the introverts?

First and foremost, social lessons. Just because these flowers are quiet, does not mean they are unmindful. I was at a party the other day and witnessed a girl giving her number to a boy by singing him a rendition of “Call Me Maybe.” Funny? Yes. Effective? Absolutely not. What this budding pop star did not pick up on was the panicked look on the young man’s face while his girlfriend shook her head in disgust from across the room and stormed out.

Good story, right?

While watching this take place, I learned a little lesson on reading people’s facial expressions. Don’t continue singing if your audience looks like they saw a ghost. Among other things, while observing I have also learned what not to say while in a recitation discussion, to refrain from excessive swearing when at a professional dinner and to always remember people’s names.

Aside from being well learned in social situations, after analyzing for years, many wallflowers find themselves more perceptive about what makes people tick and have a propensity for helpful advice.

I was in a social situation where a girl was telling a story that she was excited about until one of her friends rudely interrupted and the story was never finished. The storyteller got really quiet for the next hour or so and was made fun of for being a “wet blanket.” Later, I asked her to finish the story and her entire demeanor changed. Where’s the insight you ask? Well because of that situation, I realized that people’s feelings get hurt when others aren’t listening to them. This understanding motivates me to make others feel important and to recommend others to do the same.

Lastly, being a wallflower allows the freedom to be in a variety of different social groups. I recognize everyone has and takes advantage of this choice, but for a wallflower that floats on the brink of a different social labels, the options seem a little more endless. Wallflowers are capable of being chameleons in a sense, able to mold themselves into their surroundings. Occasionally I feel like extroverts are put on a pedestal. People tend to reason that they have superior social skills and personalities. However, I argue that there is something to be said for the person who can take what they have observed and use it to blend in and make friends with a variety of different people.

Perks aside, what isn’t so grand about being a wallflower? You are prone to be written off as shy, quiet, or boring. However, I think Stephen Hawking was right when he said, “Sometimes quiet people have the loudest minds.” The struggle for the wallflower is about not being so “set aside” that no one gives a second thought. Introverts must remember their observations and personalities should be, at times, broadcast rather than hidden. Ultimately all personality traits have their perks, but often those of the wallflower are overlooked. Many would be surprised by the wit, knowledge and social understanding these inconspicuous people possess.