As Hagrid so perfectly put it in The Philosopher's Stone: Happee Birthdae, Harry! 38 according to fact and research, but I can't help but feel like dear Harry will always be the same age as me in my own head. Why? Because I, like many people around my age, grew up alongside Harry. We battled the Basilisk, went through a whole lot of anger issues whenever someone we'd come to think of as family came to their end (I will never get over Sirius Black), dreamed about playing Quidditch, and finally defeated Voldemort somewhere in the middle of the night because we just couldn't put that final book down. And the best part about those thrilling reads we enjoyed? We picked up so many things along the way.
If there's one thing the Golden Trio has taught us, it's that there is nothing your friends can't get you through. If there are two things: it's that it's normal to suffer a couple of ups and downs but a true friendship will always come through in the end. And if there are three things? That it's absolutely okay to ask for help because it's ridiculous to go it alone all the time. It's something truly wonderful when there's no difference between the ones you call family, and those you call friends, isn't it?
“No, Harry, you listen," said Hermione. "We're coming with you. That was decided months ago - years, really.”
I used to think bravery was all about doing something remarkable, like - you know - saving a life, climbing a mountain or jumping from a cliff, you get the idea. The truth is, bravery comes in many forms. From Neville standing up to his friends, to eating the green Every Flavour Bean and Harry's ultimate sacrifice. HP also taught me that facing a fear, however small it is, is something we should dare to do to move forward, and that, when we do, it doesn't come any braver than that. We're never too *insert word of your choice here* to be the hero of our own story. I mean, look at our Harry. He was only 11 years old when he fought off Scary-Face in the first one, wasn't he?
First of all: money isn't everything. Harry came into quite a bit of it when he first entered the Wizarding World, but it's pretty clear throughout the whole series that he'd swap it for having a family like Ron's in an instant. Next, it's that laughter goes a long way. Courtesy of our favourite twins. Lastly, that we can't live in the past. There's no way we can change the parts of our lives that have already happened. But we can shape our future.
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
I think it's safe to say that Rowling really, really wanted us to know that you can't judge a book by its cover. From Hagrid's gentle giant-ness to the scary-looking, perfect godfather that was Sirius Black, and - of course - Snape's whole deal in the end. No matter how anyone comes across as the greatest or the worst, you can safely believe they are fighting their own demons.
It comes from within, ya'll. Sure, the word 'pretty' is mentioned a couple of times, but it's never the biggest trait of one of our heroines or the reason someone falls in love with them. Hermione is super clever, (book) Ginny is - well - life. Both are simply badasses.
Also: scars are cool so own them. I mean, the one on my leg was definitely not acquired while fighting off the evilest wizard in the history of wizards (it was a mosquito bite gone bad, okay...) but, hey, I'll take it!
Hermione fought for what she thought was right with S.P.E.W., no matter how much she got laughed at by the other two. Harry didn't quit telling the truth about Voldemort's return after the denying Ministry punished him for it, not to mention the whole "not Slytherin, not Slytherin" ordeal. Stick to your ideals. Let your actions define you. Question authority, even. Fight for what you believe in and don't let anyone else tell you who you are or should be, that's what I got from that.
Ah, the big one. You didn't think I was going to ignore the big L word, did you? It's no secret that it's always at the very centre of the story, but what MIGHT surprise you is that the whole love is the strongest magic is not the thing that's at the of my lessons from Potter list. The inevitability of heartbreak is. Harry and Cho, Ron and Lavender, Hermione and Krum, Ginny and Dean, Snape and Lily, Dumbledore and Grindelwald,... All proof that things don't always turn out the way you want them to and that's ok. Life goes on. Of course, according to Rowling's finale, love will indeed conquer all in the end, and that's a pretty neat thing to believe in, isn't it?
"The ones that love us never really leave us, you can always find them in here."
There are probably a ton of other things I could put in here, but one thing's for certain: I would never be the person I am today if I hadn't stuck my nose into The Philosopher's Stone back in the day. So thank you, J.K. Rowling, from the bottom of my heart.
And happee birthdae. ♡
Q: Do you agree with this list? How are you going to celebrate Harry's birthday?