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Mental Health

We Need To Stop Idolizing Fictional Characters (Yes, Even Hermione Granger)

Before I start what is sure to be a mess of rambling, let me preface all of it with this: there was a period in my life where I was, like just about everyone else, obsessed with all things Harry Potter. And, don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but not to the unhealthy degree I used to. There used to be a time in which I lived, breathed and died by Hermione Granger’s mindset of perfection. I used to idolize her study habits and her incessant need to always be the best at whatever she was doing. And, for a while, I didn’t see anything truly wrong with that. But, as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.

For years Hermione has been seen as the absolute pinnacle of what it means to be smart; to be deemed intelligent. So many young girls and guys see themselves in her, whether it’s because of her place as an outsider in the beginning, her unconventional looks or simply her Muggle-born background. I’m by no means going to sit here and claim it’s a bad thing to look up to a fictional character, but I will say it’s not always healthy.

Here’s the catch that took me a solid five years to learn: she’s always going to be the brightest witch of her age because she was written by someone who was able to choose her successes and failures. Unfortunately, we Muggles aren’t so lucky. I think half the reason I put Hermione on the pedestal I did for so long was because I simply thought she had it all together. She became this symbol of academic perfection, but the truth is, she never really had the competition we do in real life. It’s not realistic that you’ll always come out on top in exams, and it’s certainly impossible to be the brightest pupil to ever exist if you go to a school with the population of a small country.

Harry Potter Book
Photo by zelle duda from Unsplash

I don’t know when in my life Hermione went from being a character whose passion for learning was something I admired to a character that I’d beat myself up about if I couldn’t compare to. Healthy? No, not in the slightest.

But, that being said, I get it — I mean, I really, really do. It’s important to have fictional characters that we can look up to, or even idolize, in today’s climate. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that those characters should never make you feel second best in your own life. Every move, choice, thought and word they said was chosen and written by someone as a way to contribute to a larger plot. Their entire “life” was planned from beginning to end, so of course, things will miraculously work out with every little effort. Do you think it would’ve made contextual sense for Hermione to suddenly lose interest in all things knowledgeable when she was trying to help Harry find the Horcruxes? No, not at all. J.K. Rowling (She Who Shall Not Be Named) would never have made Hermione lose interest in books when that was quite literally what her entire character was built on. It does, however, make sense for you and me to find new hobbies and things that interest us as we grow. 

The point I’m trying to make in this jumble of words is that we don’t have someone who has written out everything that will ever happen to us — we have to figure it out ourselves. As much as we love our fictional characters, it’s important to remember that (as much as we may want to), we will never be them. And frankly, if you ask me, that’s not an entirely bad thing.

A senior at the University of Central Florida, Rose is majoring in International Relations & Comparative Politics with minors in Diplomacy, History, and Intelligence and National Security. For her final year as a Knight, she is serving as the Senior Editor for Her Campus @ UCF. Outside of doing copious amounts of homework, she spends an unhealthy amount of time reading historical fiction, watching planes fly by outside of her apartment window, and eating ice cream from the pint. After college, she hopes to finally figure out the secret to life, or at least how to grow 2 more inches.
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