The Art of Solitude

The Art of Solitude

There are perks to being a wallflower

By Iris Lee

I wouldn’t underestimate the quiet folk.

For some, it’s thrilling to be around other people and feed off their effervescence. For others, it’s a little harder, and not just because they might be socially awkward. There are some people that just like to be alone at times.

In that reflective novel Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky paints this tranquil story of a wallflower, Charlie, through Charlie’s personal letters.  There are some really beautiful thoughts created in his mind as he observes mundane human nature from afar—whether it be from a corner at a teenage party or in a musty school hallway, he looks through life from a unique perspective and sees what everyday people cannot.

That’s what I mean. While the word “wallflower” is sometimes mistakenly considered synonymous with “outcast” or “loner,” I prefer “self-observer.” A wallflower is simply a person who prefers the company of thoughts and prefers to fade into the background, surveying the surroundings. There are perks to standing on the sidelines, like self-discovery and relaxation, and it’s as much a way of life as traversing the town with crowds of friends.

When I’m alone, I exist in a bubble and depart from reality. I float above my environment, examining what’s happening below in a sort of peaceful out-of-body experience, and dissect the laughter, the chatter, and the shouting that my brain filters. A school courtyard, once drab and overcrowded, transforms into a vivid place teaming with new life. And some of my clearest revelations come from late nights lying in bed, like this one: solidarity is a gift. While I’m alone in my room, my heart doesn’t ache for other people’s company. I choose to unwind from the dynamic day by letting the silence engulf and soothe my tinkering mind.

The alone time is a valuable hidden gem of the competitive, bustling world every human being needs at one time or another to learn to live with themselves.  As a result, these shy folk have a clear sense of their own beliefs. They spend so much time with themselves that they have the time to culminate their own thoughts and explore their unconscious, diving into the depths and doing some much needed soul searching.

Contrary to popular belief, wallflowers don’t miss out on the high school experience. Wallflowers don’t make it a point to avoid company–they choose solitude, not isolation. They simply understand that they can retreat from the world without fear of being abandoned by the world. Not only do they grasp the nuances of life easily, but they also possess that uncanny ability to live vicariously through another person’s eyes…at the very heart of it, a wallflower is a quietly cultivated plant sitting on the windowsill, observing day and night.