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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone celebrated its 20th Anniversary last week. It seems to be ages ago but it’s also surprising how quickly time flew by. I think no one foresaw, twenty years ago, the impact that such a publication would have, what the novels would become, or how it would mark more than an entire generation.
Nowadays, Harry Potter is present everywhere, from books to movies, to jokes, references, quotes, themed parks and merchandise. We grew up with him, with the novels, with the movies, and with the actors. The phenomenon became part of our daily lives and everyone, from children to parents was influenced by the Wizarding World at one point or another.
Growing up, I was obsessed with the movies. I wanted to be like Hermione, I wanted to have a friend like Harry, and most of all, I wanted to believe in magic and let my imagination run wild. After a 10-year hiatus from the wizarding world, I read the entire series and became even a greater fan, as I discovered that beyond the magic and the fantastical, the series held precious wisdom. Today I want to share with you 7 lessons Harry Potter has taught us about life.
You must fight for what you believe in.
Harry Potter was determined to defeat Lord Voldemort. No matter how scared he was, no matter how much he risked his life, Harry embraced his fears and faced the unknown with unparalleled bravery. He fought because it was the right thing to do, even if no one believed his story, even if no one supported him, even if he had to do it on his own because there wasn’t enough time. Harry faced Voldemort not out of revenge but because he didn’t want a world of darkness and suffering.
Hermione is also a good example about determination. She is known for being the best in her class, which was admirable, but her value extends beyond that. She always protected minorities and fought for their wellbeing and their rights. She demonstrated that muggleborns and muggles are valuable, that house elves deserved respect and support, that animals are highly intuitive beings in need of care and love.
Always fight for your goals, fight for other people, let your voice be heard. People need one another and only together can we create a better world.
Avarice and greed might take you to the top but selfishness and arrogance will be your downfall:
This was Lord Voldemort’s biggest problem. He rejected his origins and made a false identity for himself. He reached the top through cruelty, violence, hatred, and repression. He was so close minded that he didn’t learn from his mistakes, he didn’t question his actions, and most of all, he failed to realize that the greatest power comes from love, not from evil. He was thus destroyed by his own avarice, his own attempt at immortality, his own arrogance.
No matter how daunting your life might be at the moment, there is always hope.
You know the saying, “there’s light at the end of the tunnel”. Everyone goes through hard times at least once in life. Be that the loss of a job, of a relationship, of a loved one, or even of yourself. Life is a mixture of ups and downs, of victories and defeats. When you are in a rut or at a bad moment in your life, remember that in the end, it all works out. Things begin to unfold and suddenly, life is not as hard as it used to be; suddenly, you are happy again and new opportunities arrive. When a door closes, another one opens. Learn from your mistakes, learn from each experience. Bad times make us grow too.
As Dumbledore says, “happiness can be found in the darkness of times if only you remember to turn on the light”.
A good tip to overcome hard times is to be grateful. Whenever you face a low time in your life, count your blessings, remember the people that love you, remember your qualities, the quirks you love about yourself, remember happy experiences, however small. It will make you feel better.
Always believe in yourself, even if no one else does.
Sometimes we are passionate about a project, a new idea, or a career that no one understands. In those moments, trust your gut and follow your passions. You might or might not succeed but the point is that you pursued your calling. You will never know if you don’t try, so don’t let anyone discourage you. Sirius Black spent 12 years in Azkaban and even his best friends condemned him. But he knew he was innocent and it was the strength of that truth what kept him going until he escaped and cleared his name. Believe in yourself.
You will encounter people who will surprise you and who will disappoint you.
“if you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals”. Ah, Sirius. Always full of wisdom. I think this is one of the easiest ways to judge someone’s character. Sometimes your best friends betrays you; other times, you learn to admire and love people whom you disliked before, so never judge on appearances or words but rather on actions.
We always have a choice in what we do and who we become.
Regardless of your background, you always have a choice in who you become. Family, society, religion can influence you while you are developing but once you reach adulthood, you are responsible for your choices; you are responsible for your ideologies. You always have a choice. As Sirius would say: “we’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are”.
The people that truly love you will always support you and want the best for you.
Sometimes when we feel misunderstood or lost, we isolate ourselves and push our loved ones away, thinking that they might be happier without our problems, without our burden. But this is farther from the truth. Once you communicate and let them in, you realize how much they love you and how much they worry about your wellbeing and happiness. Harry was “the chosen one” but he never fought alone. He always had his friends and family supporting him. He had Ron, Hermione, Sirius, Lupin, Luna, and the Weasleys whenever he needed encouragement, whenever he needed companionship, whenever he needed advice or protection. Even if your loved ones are far away, you can find strength in the thought of them. In moments of insecurity, remember Sirius’s words: “The ones who love us never really leave us, you can always find them in [your heart]”.
I think one of the reasons why Harry Potter had such an impact in our lives–aside from the magic, which is pretty awesome–is its rawness and vulnerability. Harry Potter depicts life as it is, with moments of happiness and pain. It teaches us that we grow from every experience and it teaches us that the most important thing in life is love.
What lessons has Harry Potter taught you about life?