20 Life Lessons We Learned from Harry Potter

Many of the people from our generation say they "grew up with Harry Potter." And we would agree! The first book came out when we were in kindergarten, and the last movie premiered during the summer before we left for college. This series impacted our lives in a big way, and though it is fiction, we learned a lot about life from the Wizarding World.
 
1. There's no post on Sundays. 
(Except when magical owls are involved.) Though we may not have realized, Uncle Vernon taught us valuable knowledge about the postal system. Now, we will never attempt to mail or expect to receive a letter on a Sunday. He provided us with common knowledge that is definitely needed in our daily lives. Rest in peace, Richard Griffiths.
 
2. Friendships can blossom in the most unlikely of places. 
Remember when Harry and Ron hated Hermione? Neither do we. This unlikely trio became the best of friends at Hogwarts largely due to the fact that they knocked out a gigantic mountain troll together. Though this is an unusual beginning to a friendship, it teaches us that friendship is unpredictable, and we should be open to all people. So, don't make fun of that know-it-all girl who sits next to you in class. She may just end up being your best friend (or wife) someday.
 
3. Never disobey your mother.
Or she will publicly embarrass you in front of your entire school. Mrs. Weasley may have taken this to the extreme, but we definitely took our mom's demands more seriously after this horrific punishment. Though our moms can't send howlers, we can only imagine the terror caused by our moms bursting into the school dining hall and screaming at us. Sadly, this fear takes a new, very real form once your mother joins Facebook (shivers).      
 
4. Every living being deserves to be respected and treated equally. 
Okay, so we may not all be huge S.P.E.W. advocates, but there definitely wasn't a dry eye in the audience when Dobby died. (And if there were, we question these people.) The Malfoy family treats Dobby beyond cruelly (death threats five times a day?), but he is a creature capable of empathy, compassion, and morality. When Harry sets Dobby free at the end of Chamber of Secrets, the fandom did a collective sigh of relief. In Harry Potter, we are shown that all creatures deserve to be treated with equality. Whether we are mudbloods, muggles, house elves, or goblins, every single one of us deserves equality and respect.  Also, we learned the power of socks!
 
5. Never follow the spiders.  
Because they lead to even bigger spiders. Terrifying. Seriously, go find some butterflies instead. 
 
6. Your past isn't as important as your future. 
Sometimes the lot you are presented with in life isn't the best building block for the future you desire, nor is it something we can control.  Harry didn't ask for his parents to be murdered, to then be raised by a family with the collective intelligence of a baboon, nor to be the freaking savior of the Wizarding World, but hey, we can't always get what we want.  Part of the struggle and beauty of Harry's journey is his acceptance of the past, and the ability to rise above those experiences and obstacles in order to create the future he did want.  Through the characters in this magical world, we've learned that our past doesn't necessarily dictate where we go; we always have a say in our future.  Even the bad guys get a second chance, receding hairline and all.  
 
7. How to use time wisely.
Simply, invest in a time-turner. Otherwise, good luck and don't take on too much at one time. (Namely, don't schedule two classes during the same time period.)  Plan your time wisely, but leave room for spontaneity for you'll never know when you need to put off an assignment to save your friend's hippogriff.
(Oops, wrong fandom).
 
8. Sometimes, you have to stand up to authority figures.
Though authority figures are there to provide control, this doesn't mean they are the most moral, intelligent, or compassionate people in our world. Sometimes, you have to question authority. In the case of Dolores Umbridge, this was definitely true. Now, we aren't saying you should leave your professors vulnerable to an angry group of centaurs, but standing up to authority is occasionally warranted. Hopefully, none of your professors force you to write lines that cut into the back of your hand. If they do, you should probably report that. 
 
9. It is normal to have teenage angst. 
Just use Harry in Order of the Phoenix, also known as "Capslock Harry", as your case study. BECAUSE HALF OF THE BOOK WAS SHOUTING. And nothing says "teen angst" better than a good old-fashioned caps lock rant. So, don't feel bad about going through your teenage angst stage, because apparently not even magic can help you with that. Go bang your head against a wall and say, "Angst. Angst. Angst. Angst." We've heard it helps.
 
10.The best sort of friendships are never perfect.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione have a solid friendship, but they spend a fair amount of time arguing and fighting. Friendships are not supposed to be perfect, and the best friendships never are. Can you blame Ron for wanting to leave during that wild-goose chase for Horcruxes? Does that make him a bad friend? No, that makes him human. The important thing is that he returned. No matter what happens between them, this trio always pulls through in the end. When they do fight, Harry and Ron just need to remember that Hermione is not an owl. 
 
11. Don't spend too much time in front of mirrors.
As Dumbledore so wisely states, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."  No matter how many nights Harry spent infront of the Mirror of Erised, the image reflected back to him was never his reality.  It is important to bring your dreams with you, but not to get too caught up in the 'what ifs' or what you wish to see in your bedroom mirror that you forget about all the wonderful things you do see.  Even if you accidentally turn yourself into a cat with some funky polyjuice potion or have a night of too much butterbeer, live in that moment and enjoy the spontaneity of your reality.  Also, don't place too much importance on apperance or sit infront of mirrors all day, no one likes a Lockhart (except for maybe your mom).
 
12. Girls rule. 
I mean, did you see Hermione straight up punch Malfoy in the face? That is the definition of girl power. And Hermione is arguably one of the best fictional female role models of all time. She's intelligent, brave, powerful, and independent. She is everything that every girl strives to be. Hermione made it okay to be that kid who sits in the front row of class and constantly raises their hand. Most importantly, she isn't defined by her romantic relationships or her connection with male characters (ahem, Twilight). Her love interest leaves during a crucial moment in their quest for horcruxes? She stays to help Harry save the Wizarding World, even though she could have easily followed Ron, or curled into the fetal position and cried for weeks. Hermione Granger is our role model, and she showed us that we have the power to do anything. 
 
13. Embrace your quirks.
Often, we are too worried about what is considered "cool" or "popular." It is easy to lose your unique identity in all that conformity. So, we say: Do as Luna does. Embrace your individuality, your weirdness, yourself. Chances are you will find friends who love you for you (quirks included). And if you have a moment of ridiculous weirdness, just blame it on a wrackspurt that is floating around the room.
 
14. Love is all you need.
If there is one thing that is indisputable throughout all of Harry Potter canon, it is the strength of love.  Good ole J.K. really pounded the notion that "love conquers all" into every page of the seven books, stressing the importance of connection in our lives.  It is through his mother's sacrificial love for him that Harry first survives an encounter with evil, and it is through love once again that he is able to eventually triumph over it.  All you really need is love.
 
15. Beware of Halloween.
Now that we are older, Halloween may have lost some of its initial appeal.  For instance, no college is going to be as decorated or sugar-filled with the cavity-capacity as the Great Hall, and for some horrible reason it is no longer acceptable to Trick-Or-Treat.  But the fear induced holiday still serves as a nightmare factory, one which in the Wizarding World requires full attentions.  Stuff goes down on Halloween, so you better circle the thirty-first on your calendar (as if you hadn't already been counting down the days).  Trolls have been known to enter dungeons, secret serpent chambers have re-opened, and not to mention it is the anniversary of Lily and James' death.  Like we said - Stuff.  Halloween is a magical time, but always be armed and ready to use that Twix bar as a weapon, for who knows what can happen on this mysterious day.
 
16. Everyone must eventually grow up. 
Unfortunately. 

But in some cases, it's totally fine by us.
 
17. Teenage romance is awkward.
Regardless of all the preemptive measures and how hard you try to avoid the inevitable, you will make a fool of yourself in the name of teenage romance.  Whether it is a hopeless crush with embarrassing longevity, or a PDA riddled affair of making out in the corridors between sickeningly sweet, stupid pet names and googly eyes, you will experience that 'magic' of puppy love.  As well as all the horrors. Accept that you will feel dumb and ridiculous, we all do at some point.  Love potions?  We've been there.  Be prepared to feel "love's keen sting" that comes with young age.  No one wants to be the Lavendar Brown or Romilda Vane, but we can't all meet our soul mates at age eleven.  Also, most of our best friends won't be so calm about you dating their little sister, but WonWon is just a big ole softie.  
 
18. Don't procrastinate.
Listen, Harry had multiple MONTHS to work on his clue for the Second Task in the Triwizard Tournament, and he waits until the very last minute to start doggie-paddling around the Prefect's bathroom with a ghost, playing with bubbles, and not preparing for something that could legitimately result IN HIS DEATH.  That bio lab you've been putting off never threatened your life, but now we know to not be as stupid as Harry.  Hermione should have taught him...nagged him better.
 
19. People aren't always what they seem.
As the ever so appropriate cliche states, "never judge a book by its cover."  The Harry Potter Universe is filled with characters who change as the story develops.  For instance, James and Lily trusted Peter Pettigrew as one of their closest friends, but that little rat is responsible for their demise.  Similarly, we are introduced to Sirius Black as the insane Prizoner of Azkaban, the villain of book three, but as we read on, we learn to love him as the shaggy, lovable dog he truly is.  (A dog which we all shed some serious tears over).  The best example is Severus Snape.  Now, we were strong supporters of the "Snape Is A Good Guy" theory before the release of the final book, but as a spy for both sides, Snape is the ultimate ambiguous character.  On the surface, he is greasy, rude, and has an abnormally large nose (and a slightly evil drawl as far as Alan Rickman is concerned), but through the completion of his story, Snape proves to be complex and full of unknown love and compassion.  Although, we still believe he's rolling in his grave somewhere over Harry naming his son after him.  Snape may have been a hero, but he was still a total jerk. 
 
20. With supportive friends, you can achieve anything.
You can even save the Wizarding World from the clutches of Lord Voldemort! Okay, so maybe you won't do anything quite that amazing, but with a little help from your friends, the possibilities are endless. Life would be a very horrible thing without a couple of great friends by your side to share it with. We don't know what we would do without ours. And maybe we aren't battling mountain trolls, or saving humanity from an evil wizard, but we know we will always have someone to sit and watch (and quote every line of) a Harry Potter movie with after a long day of classes. 
 
All in all, there is a lot to learn from reading Harry Potter. So, to those who think it's just a children's book series...

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About The Author

Brittany, a Senior at JCU, has a passion for tea, books, writing, and London. As an English major, you can usually find her curled up with a good book somewhere on-campus (usually in O'Malley). She loves everything about Her Campus, and she finds it extremely exciting and rewarding to be a Campus Correspondent!

Senior Criminology major at John Carroll University.  Lover of all things feline, musical, literary, and pomegrantes.  

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