I’ve been doing tons of back-to-school posts lately, but today is September 1 which means… HAPPY BACK-TO-HOGWARTS!! Yes, today’s post is bringing out my wEiRd side a little as I’m going to be geeking out about Harry Potter throughout it. This year is the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and September 1st is the official first day of Hogwarts every year. To celebrate these momentous occasions, today I am sharing a life lesson I learned from each of the 7 Harry Potter books, in hopes they’ll teach you something as well.
I cannot begin to describe the love (and slightly unhealthy obsession) I have with the Harry Potter series and this post doesn’t even begin to do the series justice. Let’s get started, I hope you enjoy 😉
*ATTENTION! ATTENTION! If you are one of the unfortunate souls that has yet to read Harry Potter, you are severely missing out! I strongly urge you to give them a go, if not the books, then at least watch the INCREDIBLE movies.*
RUN-DOWN OF MY HARRY POTTER LOVES
Favorite Book: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Favorite Girl Character: In the books, my favorite is Luna Lovegood, but in the movies, it is 100% Bellatrix Lestrange!!
Favorite Guy Character: Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy are tied for this spot in my heart.
Favorite Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt.2
My Hogwarts House: SLYTHERIN!!
Harry Potter and the…
SORCEROR’S STONE: don’t focus too much on the things you can’t have
Although the Mirror of Erised is often overlooked in the first book, something always draws me back to the idea of it. The mirror’s ability to show its viewer a reflection of themselves with what they want in life is enchanting, yet something to be wary of. As Dumbledore says, many people could waste away in front of the mirror. Focusing on the things you can’t have (like Harry seeing his parents in his reflection) or the things you desperately want to have (like Ron seeing himself as Head Boy and Quidditch Captain in his reflection) can both destroy you and drive you. The Mirror of Erised is a good lesson to keep your goals in mind and work towards them, but to be careful not to let them consume your thoughts and preventing you from living in the present.
CHAMBER OF SECRETS: it’s not always in your head (you’re not the only one)
To me, the most memorable part about Chamber of Secrets was the worry characters like Harry and Ginny felt, but couldn’t explain to anyone. Harry was hearing murderous voices in the walls that no one else could, and Ginny was acting weird and spelling eerie messages on the wall in blood (yes, I’m aware that for those of you who haven’t read Harry Potter this sounds crazy) leading them to believe what they were experiencing was all in their heads. Turns out, it wasn’t all in their heads and *spoiler* that it was actually a giant serpent in the walls Harry was hearing, and Ginny was being controlled by a younger version of Voldemort.
What did this teach me? In an abstract takeaway, this drove home the point people always make about how things aren’t always only in your head. It’s easy to feel alone when your mind is playing tricks on you or something doesn’t feel quite right up there, but you’re not the only one. Someone out there can relate to you or help you like Hermione did with Harry by using her knowledge to rake through dozens of books to figure out what was really going on. It’s not always in your head, and you’re not the only one going through it either.
PRISONER OF AZKABAN: there’s dark and light in all of us
Dumbledore is full of sage wisdom in every book (even in the 7th when he’s dead :)), and in Prisoner of Azkaban he doesn’t disappoint. At one point, Dumbledore tells Harry: “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.” Immediately after reading this, the argument of whether people are inherently good or inherently evil was solved for me. We are both. Whether you want to admit it or not, we all have bad thoughts that are on the opposite end of the spectrum from our best thoughts. The thoughts we act on, regardless of intention, define our personality, which in turn defines who we are. So remember, there’s dark and light in each and every one of us.
GOBLET OF FIRE: you can’t get out alive
This Goblet of Fire lesson is you can’t get out alive, which is just my inverse way of saying live your life to the fullest! As I’ve seen time and time again in my real life and in the Harry Potter series your life can quickly and unexpectedly be flipped upside down.
Harry never meant to have his name put in the Goblet of Fire, but when it popped out he had to spend 4th year playing in the Triwizard Tournament where every challenge is a near-death experiment. In the last challenge, when him and Cedric find the Triwizard Trophy in the center of the maze, they weren’t expecting it to be a portkey that would take them to a graveyard where Cedric would be killed and Voldemort would come back.
In short, this book convinced me of the “life live to the fullest, no one makes it out alive” quote that is so cheesily thrown around. To me, this doesn’t really mean that every day has to be the best day of your life where you’re constantly doing cool things, but rather to appreciate what you have and live life the way you most want to live it with the people you love. Harry Potter showed me gratitude is a way of life that needs to be practiced more by me and by you.
ORDER OF THE PHOENIX: just because you lost something, doesn’t mean it’s gone for good
If you thought I wasn’t gonna mention Luna in this post, you were sadly mistaken, as she is my favorite girl character (besides Bellatrix ;)). Luna’s eccentric tendencies and abstract, yet insightful explanations for why things are the way they are is right up my alley; I love her!
After losing her shoes in the middle of the night, then later finding them hanging from the Hogwarts ceiling, Luna tells Harry, “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” I have a feeling she wasn’t talking about just shoes, but rather intangible objects that we feel lost without. This is hard to explain, but I’m sure many of you know the feeling of people, places, or parts of ourselves uncontrollably slipping away from you with no chance of you stopping it from leaving. It’s the worst knowing you’re losing something or someone that you weren’t ready to leave you in the first place, but Luna’s line is a reminder that it is okay to let go.
After all, somehow what you let go will come back to you in ways/forms you might not recognize. The person you lost may continue to impact and touch you in ways you can’t quite describe. The place you left will continue to shape you and keep you grounded. The part of yourself you lost may be replaced by something better or return to you when you need in most/least expect it. Luna makes sure to remind Harry of this in her simple line, knowing all the pain loss has caused him. And even if what you lost doesn’t come back to you, it’s still okay to move on.
HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: war is terrifying, but hope can always be found
This one is strange and a little dark, but around the 6th book/movie is when I began to realize how many parallels Harry Potter holds to the real world. I knew J.K. Rowling had meant for it to have these parallels, but had never really noticed them prior. Especially as I was watching the movie, I began to realize that taking magic out of the last few books makes them an eerie tale of war, desperate people, and finding hope in dark times. Of course, this could be me reading too much into everything, but it definitely made me contemplate some things about the world around me.
Starting with the Half-Blood Prince, this series taught me how terrifying war is (the Golden Trio had to be on the run, people were scared to speak their mind, the Ministry was getting more corrupted everyday, Luna was taken prisoner, Hermione was tortured, etc.) and how quick people are to turn to the saying “desperate times call for desperate measures” to protect themselves and the ones they love. BUT! In the midst of this, the books also taught me that hope can always be found. The light side never stopped fighting to rid their world of the awful Death Eaters, and continued to push on and not let the war get in the way of their life.
Pretty sure I cried more than once watching the final two 7th movies after realizing how real the parallels of war were. Need more tissues ASAP 😉
DEATHLY HALLOWS: love doesn’t just win, it overcomes
Love wins. This is the true theme and message of the Harry Potter series, and becomes prevalent and obvious in the last book. You learn that Harry himself is a symbol of love. He lived when Voldemort tried to kill him as a baby because of his mother’s love and the love he carried within himself was his ultimate weapon when it came to the defeat of Voldemort.
In each book, we see love portrayed in different ways. Love was Lilly Potter sacrificing herself for her son, love was Sirius putting his life at risk to get to know his godson, love was Hermione and Ron skipping their 7th year at Hogwarts to help Harry search for horcruxes, love was Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy doing whatever they could to keep their son, Draco, alive, and love was Fred Weasley dying for a cause that saved his family.
In the end, J.K. Rowling makes it a point to show that love doesn’t just beat out the Dark Side to win, but overcomes it with passion and strength only love can carry. Treat those around you with love and you could change a life or two.
Whew!! This post may or may not have taken me a few hours to write; I had to dig deep into my brain for this one. I hope you enjoyed this post and learned a thing or two about why Harry Potter is seen as some of the greatest books of all time. Leave a comment below letting me know what Hogwarts house you’re in and feel free to drop any questions or blog post ideas you may have as well. Thanks so much for reading!!