Back when I was a freshman in high school I read the now uber popular young adult book The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the first time. At the time I was like yeah, whatever, good book, pretty interesting stuff and then I didn’t really think about it for awhile. I’m sure I had some trivial quotes from it on my AIM buddy info or something but overall, the only thing I gathered from it was this kid didn’t have any friends, made some friends, got in a fight with his new friends and basically learned he was weird and that was okay.
Fast forward to more recently and I’ve reread the book (this annoying habit I do anytime there’s a movie based on a book coming out) there’s a movie with Hermione playing one of the leads and basically every other Tumblr site is dedicated to quotes from this small, lime green book. My point isn’t about how annoying it is that everyone is just now becoming obsessed with this book because it’s become a movie, although that fact does make my skin crawl. My point is how sharply almost every line from this book stabbed me upon rereading it almost ten years later. I don’t mean stabbed in a totally horribly way. More like when you read something and it’s this huge moment of realization and it kind of hurts and makes you ache by how true it is. No? Just me? Okay cool.
I think the moment in the text that’s been constantly stuck to me over the past couple of months and that I’ve discussed tiredly among close friends is one spoken by the main character and narrator Charlie to Hermione (sorry, Sam) in the move.
Sam: Why do I and everyone I love pick people who treat us like we’re nothing?
Charlie: We accept the love we think we deserve.
Side comment: this is also spoken from Bill, Charlie’s teacher, to Charlie.
Why is it that when someone tells us we’re a terrible person or we’re stupid or mean or insert negatively connotated word here we accept it so very easily? Someone says to us “you’re ugly, you’re never going to amount to anything, you’re too jealous, you’re too depressed, you suck” we just take it and basically say “you’re right. I am the worst,” and then cry in a corner somewhere?
However, if someone tells us that we’re beautiful or smart or funny or clever we tense up and tell them they’re wrong? I think it’s one of my worst faults. If someone tells me I’m terrible instead of telling them they’re wrong and running in the opposite direction I say I know and hold on tighter. And then when someone tells me I’m wonderful I try and convince them otherwise and run away as fast as I can.
It makes no sense but I do it. Most of us do. And I think it’s because we do in fact accept the love we think we deserve. If someone is treating me like gold I question it. I look for their faults. I get nervous and think that something must be wrong with them. I never really think that they’re treating me so great because it’s how I deserve to be treated. No, I immediately think “this is weird. This person must be out of their minds.”
But if someone treats me like, for failure to find a better suited word, shit, I accept it with little to no question. I know that I deserve better than that. I don’t believe anyone deserves to be treated or made to believe that they aren’t worthy of proper treatment. With a few exceptions (karma is a bitch). So why is it that in terms of love, though no one honestly wants to be treated badly or wants to see other treated badly, we accept less than we deserve?
I’m still trying to figure it out. Maybe it’s something that comes with age and maturity. Maybe it’s just a fault of twentysomethings to accept a love lesser than they deserve. I don’t know. But I do know that the first step in overcoming an addiction or problem is to recognize what it is and decide to change it. So I guess that’s all I or anyone else can do to fix this issue. Know that you deserve good love; not just in romantic relationships but in platonic ones as well. Because after all, we are infinite and we get to choose where we go from here.