I Rewatched The Perks Of Being A Wallflower As An Adult And I Think I Connect With Charlie Even More

Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

We’re about to get deep, my friends. 

2012 was a rough time in my life. I had just finished up middle school and was starting at a new high school, and I’ll be honest, I was bullied pretty hard. I despised going to school so much that I ended up almost getting held back because I missed so many days due to me wanting to avoid bullying. It was a sad time, one that I don’t like to look back on a lot. 

But something that got me through that time was this little movie called The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Granted, I originally watched it because it stars Emma Watson, and I wanted to support anything the Harry Potter cast did after those movies were done. Then I really watched it – and I felt a strong connection to Charlie unlike any other main character I'd seen. 

As I’ve gotten older, having lived through high school, college, and now three years of my twenties, I’ve really started to realize just how much I do connect with Charlie, especially upon re-watching it all these years later – in fact, I think I connect even more with him, if we’re being honest.

Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

I Understand Charlie's Struggle To Make Friends

Making friends is hard when you’re a kid and you’re shy. It’s even harder as an adult. 

When I was a kid, I was understandably considered a weird kid. Before the MCU started to become successful and fantasy shows became the new norm, I was that kid who was really into them, because I really had nothing else to turn to. Fictional realities were my safe space. 

However, that meant it was hard for me to make friends. I never really had people who understood how I thought, or my worldview, or wanted to get to know me for me. I was, in every sense of the word, a wallflower myself. I wanted to be accepted so badly, but I had no idea where to start and I was so quiet I didn’t think I could ever do it. 

Making friends is hard, and watching Charlie struggle to do that not only as a person who is joining high school, but someone who went through a very traumatic experience in losing his best friend, is understandable. I don’t think even now I could go through what he did and still somehow have a smile on my face. 

The struggle is real and raw and I really do love that they weren't afraid to show that sometimes, it takes a while to find those friends that are worth fighting for. 

Ezra Miller and Emma Watson in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

That Feeling Of Finally Finding People That Get You Is So Valuable

But when you do find those people – it’s the best feeling ever. 

I’ll be honest and say that even now, I don’t have many friends. In high school, I like to believe I had a good amount, but most either ended up drifting away once it all ended, or there were some other issues that drove us apart. I did find that one person that I just clicked with, and we’re still friends almost eleven years later, after  meeting in our freshman year of high school.

When Charlie found Sam and Patrick, I connected to that on a real level, because I was the same way back then. I felt as if there was no way I could feel accepted by anyone, but finally, there was this group of people that really loved and understood and cared about me, more than I even cared about myself. 

That’s a beautiful moment, and something I honestly took for granted as a kid. Nowadays, it’s rare you can come by those connections, especially as an adult, and it’s still just as heartwarming to see him so happy, if just for that little bit of time. 

Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

Despite That, You Can Still Make Mistakes

I'm sure I'm not the first to say that, yeah, we make mistakes. In any coming of age film, there’s always the protagonist that makes a silly mistake that really drives the plot forward, and with that in mind, it makes the story more believable. 

I think what happens with Charlie is the most realistic portrayal of making big mistakes. He didn’t even realize the mistake he was making when he got into that fight at school, he just blacked out and that made him lose his friends for some time. He also made the mistake of kissing Sam at that party instead of his girlfriend. 

Watching it now, it still makes me cringe, because it’s a messy situation either way. At the same time, I can’t help but applaud the novel and the book for making him make such authentically real mistakes, because I can definitely imagine someone doing that – heck, even myself. We all mess up every now and again, and this was one of those moments where, despite Charlie finally feeling accepted, he still messes up. 

Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

Friends Are Sometimes Not Enough For Those Dark Moments

Charlie was someone I really connected to as a kid because he himself was suffering from depression, something that I am very familiar with. It’s not an easy task to handle as a child, and certainly not one that becomes easier as you get older. 

Another thing I really do love about this movie in comparison to many other teen movies or coming of age movies is that it’s not afraid to show that sometimes, friends aren’t the key to everything. Feeling accepted isn’t the key to happiness. The only way you can find your own happiness is through yourself – and sometimes, that is a nearly impossible task. 

That’s what makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower so real, because it dives right into that idea with Charlie near the end, and how when his friends graduate from college, his mental health begins to deteriorate and his flashbacks from his trauma begin to come back. Even if he is able to talk to them on the phone, it’s not enough without them there, and he begins to have those dark thoughts again. 

Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

Charlie Learns To Live Through His Past – Just As I Have

What makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower such a great film is that it does end on a happy note – or, at least a hopeful one. 

Charlie passes out one day after his dark moments get the best of him and he wakes up in a hospital, where he really begins to remember exactly what happened to him as a child – he doesn’t repress memories, he doesn’t deny them, he actually allows himself to feel those feelings. And, that was the first step to healing.

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His friends come back to guide him, reminding him that they’re always there for him despite being away. With him going through this experience, he rides through that tunnel with them as “Heroes” by David Bowie plays in the background, saying that they were truly “infinite.” 

It’s a beautiful moment, one that still makes me cry as an adult because it’s that moment of him realizing he is alive. He is happy. This is the start of a whole new world for him. That’s a beautiful moment. In my eleven years since watching this film when it came out, I’ve had many of those moments too, but I only just now realized that it’s the exact same as this. 

Finally feeling content with life; something that comes so rarely. It was something I didn't experience often, but when I did, it was wonderful having those moments of healing and overcoming your past. That's why Charlie is great -- because he's like any one of us, trying to get through our trauma.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was truly a gem of its time, and Charlie is honestly one of the most relatable characters, because he’s so real and it feels like someone you would speak to on a daily basis. 

I think as an adult, I’ve learned to connect with his past more, because I’ve gone through similar experiences – but I also think that anyone, regardless of their past, can find something to connect with in Charlie. Personally, I think this is a movie that everyone needs to watch, at least once. 

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!