How “Potter” Helped Me Persevere

South Dakota isn’t exactly the most popular state in the United States. Heck, even if you were to ask someone from, say, the East or West Coast if they could point out South Dakota on a map, nine times out of ten, they would get it wrong. It’s a place where I never felt like I fit in.

I received the first Harry Potter book when I was nine years old. I immediately fell in love with it and soon became, admittedly, a little bit obsessed. But whom hasn’t that happened to, really? The fantasy genre has always drawn me in, but something about the world J.K. Rowling created really spoke to me. The stories of the underdogs battling the bad guys and bullies and winning, paired up with the magic and mystery, were just the perfect combo.

As I entered middle school, I found myself with one, maybe two, friends and bullies who would constantly belittle and ridicule me. It made school days difficult, and yeah, I would cry about it sometimes. But I had a secret weapon against those bullies.

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.

As I entered high school, it became less “lame” to like Harry Potter. The later films were coming out and the “popular” crowd began going to them. Still, there was some wall that separated me from them, and the name-calling continued. Once, I even had a boyfriend who told me to “tone it down a bit” because I wore a Hogwarts backpack. That particularly hit me. Suddenly, I thought, “If this person who loves me thinks I need to tone it down, maybe I should. Maybe I am just a huge weirdo.”

Immediately after that, I quit talking about anything Potter related. I became more withdrawn and quiet. It was around this time that I began exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia. A few months later, my boyfriend broke up with me.

It is important to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated.

Recovery was a hard road. I would stay in my room, not doing anything and not talking to anyone, until one day, I looked over at my bookshelf. I took a deep breath, got up, and picked up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

While reading, I came across this quote from Hagrid:

I am what I am an’ I’m not ashamed. ‘Never be ashamed,’ my ol’ dad used ter say, ‘there’s some who’ll hold it against you, but they’re not worth bothern’ with.

As always, the magic of the wizarding world came to me when I needed it the most, in the form of a wise quote from a hairy old half-giant! I decided I was just going to be me and forget anyone who thinks that it’s not good enough. If Hagrid can do it, so can I.

I finally accepted myself for who I was, nerdiness and all. In web design class, I created a website dedicated to Hogwarts. I even wrote my senior research paper on Lord Voldemort. People could still see how obnoxious and odd I was, but they no longer called me names. They left me alone because I owned who I was, and no one could take that away from me.

I was, finally, happy.

 

 

Now in my twenties, I still use Harry Potter in my day-to-day life, and not just because I have this amazing opportunity to work for MuggleNet. As a middle-class, married mother of two, I take the lessons I learned from the wizarding world, and the lessons I am still learning, and I grow. I teach my children lessons by using examples from the stories. I push through depressive episodes and panic attacks by remembering how my favorite characters overcame their own obstacles.

Harry Potter has a timeless magic that will never run out, and I will forever be grateful to J.K. Rowling for bringing it to life. It has saved me and many others in so many ways.

All was well.