So today marks 20 years since J.K. Rowling’s infamous boy wizard saga hit the shelves. I can’t think of a more life changing book for me. I remember walking with my grandma through the mall and stopping in the window of Borders Books. I told her I had heard some friends at school talking about the book and she brought me in and bought it for me. I read the hardcover that night front to back and got in trouble twice for reading after I was supposed to be in bed. From staying up until midnight with my dad for the release of each book to dressing up with friends for premiers of the movies to spending a whole summer’s pay on a trip to The Wizarding World at Universal Studios. Harry was part of my life. But Harry was there for me in darker times too. The books offered an escape to a magical place while I grew into the person I am today. I grew with Harry and his friends from my awkward ten-year-old self to the adult who felt she was fighting alongside him at the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry Potter has been a part of my life for twenty years and here are 20 magical lessons I have learned because of it. One for each year Harry has been in my heart.
1. Your friends will always be there for you.
We all make mistakes but in the end our true friends will be standing by our side no matter what. Ron regretted leaving Harry on the search for horcruxes right away and with love and a little magic, was able to make his way back to his best friend’s side.
2. Strength comes from the heart.
Dumbledore tells Harry in the very beginning, when he is obsessed with the Mirror of Erised, that he has everything he needs already in his heart.
3. Love is the most powerful thing in the world.
Love saves Harry in every book. Lily’s love saved him from Voldemort as a child. The love of his family helped him escape the graveyard when Cedric died. Love helped Snape do what was truly right all along.
4. “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light,” – Dumbledore
There certainly were some dark times for Harry but we have all had them, too. We learned hope from these stories and when times are hard we know there is a bit of light somewhere.
5. Even the worst people have the best intentions sometimes.
I had always thought Snape was the worst. Then I read, with tears streaming down my face, as he killed my beloved Dumbledore. So when it was revealed that it was all for love and friendship I learned that you cannot judge someone until you understand them.
6. Being an intelligent woman can save your life.
Hermione Granger taught me that if I study, read, and embrace my intelligence I might just get to be the most bad ass woman around. Is there a count on how many times she saved Harry and Ron?
7. Be yourself, truly and undeniably.
From Luna and Neville to Hermione and Mr. Weasley, the characters embraced their quirks and were loved in return by wizards and muggles alike.
8. Fight for what you believe is right and never stop helping those who can’t help themselves.
Hermione and Luna taught me that standing up for what you believe in is powerful and those who love you will support you whether you succeed or fail as long as your heart is in the right place. Remember S.P.E.W.?
9. Courage is stronger than [Liquid] Luck.
If you can’t believe in yourself you just might need a boost of courage from someone who believes in you, but it’s up to you to take the first steps toward your goal.
10. “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”- Dumbledore
Neville learned this when he tried to stop Harry and friends from sneaking out and costing the house points again. I learned this when I had to step away from a friendship because I didn’t like how I was being treated. Either way, it takes courage to change things that aren’t right.
11. You are the author of your own ending.
Harry could have chosen to be the Master of Death and most powerful wizard alive but in the end he knew he had more than those wizards before him. He chose to end his story with friendship and love rather than power.
12. True love can last, always.
Snape’s love for Lily was the reason for everything and will always be the most heartbreaking love story of all time.
13. Money does not buy love, loyalty, friendship, or character.
The Weasleys had far more than the Malfoys ever did. They had loyalty, love, friendship, courage, and family.
14. Face your fears.
I learned this from Harry but the real hero here is Ron. If your greatest fear is spiders and you are willing to follow your best friend into a dark forest filled with giant, hungry, lonely ones, you are the real MVP Ronald Weasley.
15. Be patient.
It felt like eternities between books, Jo!
16. Persistence will get you where you want to be.
Harry refused to stay in the cupboard knowing full well that Hogwarts was his home. He never gave up trying to get back to his friends each year.
17. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” -Dumbledore
Of course we can dream about our future and our past but we also need to spend time in the present taking in life.
18. Sometimes the mischief is worth it.
I wish a flying car would take me to school each day. But seriously if they never stole the car who would have rescued them from the spiders in The Dark Forest?
19. “It is our choices that tell us who we really are far more than our abilities.” -Dumbledore
We all have something special about us but it’s what we choose to do with it that defines us.
20. Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” -J.K. Rowling
When you feel lost in this muggle world and need to remember any of these lessons, grab a book and send yourself back to Hogwarts, it will always be there for you.