I was 3 years old when the first Harry Potter book came out, and 7 when the first film was released, saying I quite literally grew up with Harry Potter is a bit of an understatement. In many ways I learned the lessons I needed to as a child from Harry Potter almost more than my parents.
I don't mean to say that my parents weren't the phenomenal, amazing, wonderful parents that they were, because they are incredible parents (special shoutout: love you mom and dad).
What I am attempting to say, is that exploring the realities of friendship, honesty, courage, loyalty, hope, betrayal, evil, fairness, acceptance, and grief through Harry's eyes allowed me to experience the world at arms length.
Through a veil of magic and wonder we learned lessons we didn't even realize we were learning, and we're better adults for it. JKR created a world for us that allowed us to grow up, without growing up.
Thank you JK.
1. Life isn't fair.
As a kid, if my brother got a bigger slice of pizza than me I had a full on tantrum - yeah I was a brat, whatevs. Harry spent 10 years of his life with the band of antichrists otherwise known as the Durselys. The contrast between the treatment of the two boys is heart-breaking, and Harry just deals. He NEVER got a bigger slice of pizza, but he dealt with it the best he could, and eventually, life got better.
2. Hope isn't always good
Harry always held out hope that his parents would come back to him, a hope that would've eventually destroyed him. Accepting his parents weren't coming back was one of the biggest personal challenges he faced but "it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." - Albus Dumbledore
It is HARD to trust people. Harry's and Dumbledore's road to mutual trust was long and rocky, but one of the most valuable parts of each of their lives. "I am not worried, Harry," said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. "I am with you."
4. Friendship is selfless
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are obviously #squadgoals, duh, and the merits of their friendship are pretty obvious. However, Luna and Neville are the true heros of this story. The genuine unwavering trust and friendship Luna and Neville had for these three is ultimately what allowed them to be successful, and they never asked for anything in return.
5. Being weird is awesome
Luna. Lovegood. Everyone made fun of her. Absolutely everyone. And she just didn't care. Luna taught me that we are who we are and trying to be someone else will only hurt you in the end. Embrace the weird - normality is over-rated.
6. Being friends doesn't mean always agreeing
"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, and a great deal more to stand up to our friends." FEELINGS. Disagreeing with a friend doesn't mean you don't love them.
7. Accepting evil exists is the only way to fight it
This was perhaps the most difficult revelation to wrap my head around as a child. As people we want to believe the best in each other, and assume that our darkest days are behind us, but sometimes they're simply not, and refusing to see that does not make it go away.
8. Humbility is a virtue
Gilderoy Lockhart was the WORST. He was pompous, and arrogant, and worst of all he didn't even do the things in his books! The Order of the Phoenix by comparison, quite literally saved the world while operating entirely in the shadows. Do good for the sake of doing good not for the recognition.
9. Family comes in all forms
There are dozens of people in the world ready, willing, and able to love us. Bloodlines matter to most people, but they are not everything. The Weasley's love Harry unconditionally, as a family does, despite his lack of red hair. Family is family. That's it.
10. Don't judge a book by its cover
Hagrid is scary looking. He is also the most genuinely kind and good-natured character in the books, which is perhaps why it makes so much sense he's the game-keeper.
11. The Slytherin complex: people are not all good or all evil
Snape was the MOST complex character. Throughout the entire series we couldn't quite tell where Snape stood as far as Harry was concerned. He was cruel, he was distant, and then in the end, he seemed to love him more than anyone else. We never know the whole story about people. Sometimes they can surprise you in the very best ways.
12. Death is a reality of life
I did not believe it when Dobby died. I did not believe it when Dumbledore died. I didn't. I was so unbelievably angry with JKR for making me love them so much and taking them away from me, but it was perhaps the most valuable lesson of all. Anger is a part of death, sadness is a part of death, but so is acceptance. Death is real, grief is real.
13. We are not the sum of our parents' mistakes
I have very mixed feelings about Malfoy. On one hand, he's the actual worst. On the other, he's emotionally tortured by his desire to please his parents and his knowledge that what they do/ believe in is wrong. We are not accountable for the sins of our parents, only in how much we grow into them.
These lessons have subconsciously become such an integral part of who I became as an adult, and are even consciously a part of my adult life. I mean, if Harry can battle Voldemort, destroy horcruxes, ride dragons, fight 3 headed dogs, liberate Dobby (tear), and still find time to fall in love with Ginny, I think I can go to that party where I don't know anyone.
The following is probably the cheesiest thing I will ever say but it is irrevocably true: I feel truly blessed to have grown up when Harry Potter was being written. It is one of the greatest gifts our generation will ever be given.
Truly and sincerely thank you J.K. Rowling.
Also, I'm still waiting on my letter.
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