I had a tendency to cry growing up. To you, this isn’t probably saying a lot, but for a boy, it always made me think that something was wrong with me. It’s odd, but when you’re a boy and you express emotions through tears, people tend to think that something’s off with you and soon, you internalise it.
I wasn’t macho in the way that I wanted to be, or more precisely, in the way I thought I should’ve been. I felt more things than I shared, or even wanted to feel. To make things worse, I was younger than my classmates. I started school early and actually had to pass up skipping a class at some point because of how afraid I was of being much younger than my mates.
I don’t think about this often, or even at all really anymore, but some things you read get you thinking and expressing yourself in ways you usually wouldn’t and so, I probably owe this body of work to my reread of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
In it, the protagonist is a boy who cries a lot because he sees the world very differently from everyone else but is often too absorbed in his perception of the world to spend any time experiencing it. This is a reductive summary of the book, but it makes my point; he is a wallflower.
My first writings after I finished reading were;
I just finished the book – The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I like it. It feels warm. A sad, damp kind of warm, but warm nonetheless. The kind of warmth that creeps up on you when you’ve been crying in the rain.
The book is from 1999 and I’m going to download the movie adaptation from 2012. It has Emma Watson in it, and Ezra Miller plays a role I actually think he’s suited for. When Charlie says “…I swear we are infinite” in the trailer, (I think) I get emotional. Hopefully, I can actually watch the movie after I download it without crying.
I was going to share this on my WhatsApp status but I did a double-take because I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with admitting that watching the trailer made me feel vulnerable enough that I thought watching the movie would actually make me cry— that I had felt the book, and likely would feel the movie that deeply.
I think it’s odd that we have to censor emotions. That self-expression always has to go through the screen of measured appropriateness, before permission for release into the world.
I read arguments online about whether or not men should cry or women should be angry, and all I can think about is— why can’t we let people just be? We are all, by no fault of ours, incredibly human. The experience is raw, vivid, and riveting. Why don’t we let ourselves exist in it?
I had a tendency to cry growing up. And as I reread those first words from the beginning of this piece, I come to terms with how ridiculous they are. What is “a tendency to cry”, or a tendency to express any emotions than just that; being human?
Before beginning this book, I had read Van Vogt’s short story from 1972, Asylum, and did not feel any type of way about the awe and intellectual stimulation I felt at the conclusion of the protagonist’s epiphanies.
I spent some part of that same night on Youtube watching all my favourite creators and being entirely immersed in the humorous experience. I listened to my favourite genre, and let the romance wash through my spirit.
I suppose the point of all this is that I give myself permission to be vulnerable and real. To read a book about science fiction and be impressed, to watch a YouTube video about comedy and laugh, and to watch a movie about a boy struggling with depression and let myself cry.
I give myself permission to be vulnerable and real, and I give you permission too.