Friday, January 2, 2015

15 Life Lessons We Learned from Harry Potter

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For fans like myself, Harry Potter wasn’t just a book series; it was everything. It was my childhood. When Harry Potter joined as a first year student at Hogwarts, many of us were starting school for the first time too. The end of the book/movie series even ended around our high school or college graduation. We grew up with Harry Potter, and his story advanced with ours.
So it comes as no shock that there are numerous life lessons the majority of our generation learned from the series along the way. After all, Harry Potter wasn’t exactly the “chosen one” when it came to being a model student. Here are 15 life lessons we learned from Harry Potter over the progress of the series and our youthful lives.

1. We can’t change our past, but we can change our future

Regardless of the conflicts that Hermione’s time turner created for the novel’s plot (because why save only Buckbeak when they could save Lily and James Potter too, am I right?), the above still rings true. Our past shapes us as people, but it doesn’t have to shape the course of our lives. While it can be said that all the series’ characters are key examples of this, the most observable of all is Harry, who lost his parents as a baby and as a result had to live with his retched uncle, aunt, and cousin afterward. And yet, this all changed his life for the better by him choosing to attend Hogwarts. The rest is magical history.

2. Sometimes we have to face our fears to get what we want

As much as we’d all like to stay in the coziness of our bubble, sometimes life requires us to pop it for our own good. In Ron’s case, “following the spiders” meant finding the answer to rescuing Hermione from her stunned state in the second novel, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. In Harry’s case, learning to use his patronus meant protecting himself and others from the soul-sucking power of the Dementor’s kiss. In our case…well, we just have to get through an average day to make it to bed by the end.

3. Friends will get you out of trouble, but best friends will get in trouble with you

Sure, a friend will help you out of a difficulty (like Lupin did when Snape caught Harry with the Marauder’s Map), but a true best friend will be right there in the thick of it. Any time Harry found himself in a troubling situation, Ron and Hermione faced it with him. I mean, think about it. Can you imagine facing a whomping willow, three-headed dog, and life-size deadly chess set without your best friends? My guess is no.

4. Sometimes we have to face our own battles alone

As much as it helped to have his friends through every hitch, Harry always ended up opposing his challenger alone and for good reason. We can’t depend on on our friends or family to somehow save us from our own problems every time. We have to learn to fight our own battles at some point, whether it’s dealing with the petty jealousy of a friend when you’re unintentionally entered in a contest, or beating a massive basilisk in the demented water park of your school’s basement. No one said it’d be easy, but Harry Potter proved it’d be worth it.

5. Confidence is not the same thing as bravery

While Gryffindor was known for bring into being the bravest of the Hogwart’s group, Ravenclaw was known for producing an artificial hero, and his name was Professor Lockhart. More than anyone in the novels, Gildroy Lockhart proved to us that bravery comes from within and cannot be confused with its egotistical cousin, confidence. And look where all that “bravery” got him – a faulty memory, a worthless book deal, and the boot from Hogwarts.

6. You should never let anyone get the best of you

We may not have realized it as children, but Malfoy’s slandering of Muggles, especially Hermione, was an evident example of the prominence of racially-charged bullying. Hermione’s “non-magical blood” made her an enemy in the eyes of the “pure-blood” Slytherins (tell me that’s not a reference to racism). However, Hermione showed us how we shouldn’t be defined by what we are, but rather who we are. And she certainly succeeded in doing so when she punched Malfoy in the third novel. You go, Hermione.

7. There’s always some mysterious force working in our favor (or to our disadvantage)

This kind of goes along the same lines as the “you’re never alone” lesson, but speaks to the shock element of our clever support system. While Harry didn’t know it during the course of the series, Snape was always on the side of Dumbledore in protecting Harry from Voldemort, regardless of Harry’s nonstop doubt in him. On the flip side, Harry trusted Mad-Eye Moody in the fourth novel and ended up in a graveyard with the reinvented Voldemort to be nearly killed. So if you think about it, the Harry Potter series destroyed our trust in everyone.

8. There’s more to others than meet the eye

Often times we involuntarily judge others based on their look, but sometimes our calculations aren’t exact. A great example of this in the Harry Potter series was the character of Sirius Black. For the majority of the third novel, all of us, including Harry, thought he was some crazy, disloyal murderer with a bone to pick with the Potter boy. Then J.K. Rowling did a 180 and turned him into the caring, cool godfather trying to avenge Harry’s parents. Talk about a plot twist.

9. Being invisible isn’t as great as we think it’d be

As great as the superpower may seem for every introvert and grumpy cat-like person, invisibility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, it’s pretty amazing that Harry gets to move around undetected and avoid unwanted attention, but the costs sometimes come more than the rewards. Take for instance when Harry’s roaming around Hogsmeade in his invisibility cloak. He’s all happy, licking a lollipop, and then all of a sudden – boom. He overhears the rumor that Sirius betrayed his parents. In the next moment, Harry’s crying in the snow and shouting, “He was their friend!” Yeah, I think I’d rather have the gift of cooking delicious Harry Potter meals instead.

10. Ultimate power must be used with caution

If there’s anything we’ve learned from Harry Potter, it’s that power is a great and awful thing. When it’s used for good, power has the ability to change the world for the better. When it’s used for evil though, power has the ability to abolish it. Aside from Voldemort, the best example the novels give us of the harmful nature of ultimate power is the creation of the elder wand. Wizards have to kill its master to own it, friends kill each other to own it…it’s just all around a machine of demolition. However, I will say the elder wand would make a fantastic travel companion. Accio best vacation ever? I think so.

11. With age comes wisdom

Of all the quotes I’ve accumulated in Word documents, notebooks, and Pinterest over the years, the majority of them come from the Harry Potter series – and most of those were spoken by none other than Dumbledore himself. Whenever Harry found himself in a tough situation, we could always depend on on Dumbledore to give clear advice or offer a wise suggestion. After all, the man had lived for over a century. It’s not too far-fetched to say he’d learned a couple things or two in his lifetime.

12. With age comes attractiveness (or unattractiveness)

I’m not the first to say it, but I think I speak for us all when I say Neville amusingly amazed everyone by the end of the movie series. Talk about a puberty! It just goes to show us that charm can develop over time, and the same goes for unpleasantness. Not to name names, but a certain Gryffindor cutie didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped he would.

13. The power of love is stronger than the power of hatred

The phrase “kill them with kindness” relates here. We can’t possibly win over everyone, but Harry Potter showed us that we can triumph in our relationships with loved ones. Even with Voldemort’s constant death threats, Harry Potter always had a support system of family and friends to help him along the way. And in the end, that made all the difference.

14. Sometimes our enemies turn out to be our friends in disguise

Have you ever known someone you couldn’t stand, only to find out they were actually a pretty decent, manageable person? The question’s rhetorical, but it’s true – our unusual assumptions of others are often not as spot on as we think. In Harry Potter’s life, this seemed to be especially applicable. From Snape to Sirius, to even Dobby, Harry was proven wrong time and time again by his early judgments. Then again, when you’ve got an entire band of evil misfits against you, it’s safe to say you’d be a little exhausted of people too.

15. Magic exists, even for us Muggles

It’s cheesy, I know, but there’s a certain magic we all experience at some point or another in our lives. While it might not be in the form of wizardry, the magic we come across can be found in the people, places, and things around us. There’s magic in travelling, writing, reading, music, friendship, love, you name it; and it’s often found where it’s sought.
So for those of us who began and ended our childhood with Harry Potter, fear not. The magic lives on, just in a different way.

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