Leaving Hogwarts

Growing up, magic was always a part of my life. I hunted for faeries in the garden. I learned spells with the determination that I would be a witch. I even got my very own Hogwarts letter when I turned 11. However, childhood magic can’t last forever. We all have to grow up someday. So I did, and I learned that Santa Claus wasn’t real, nor was the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, or even Hogwarts.

I’m not going to lie. I cried when I learned that. It felt like my entire world had been yanked out from under my feet that night. But then I woke up the next morning, and the world wasn’t any duller or grayer for the loss of that childhood magic. That’s when I started to learn something important: We all have to leave Hogwarts someday.

In many ways, Harry Potter is a coming-of-age story, and for those in my generation, we literally grew up alongside the Potter characters, coming of age with them. So many people wept when the last book came out because – in some ways – that was the end of our childhood as we all, fans and characters alike, had to leave Hogwarts behind. And yeah, growing up hurts. It would be so much easier to stay a kid and never let the magic end, but as the books teach us, we can’t dwell on dreams forever.

But it’s not all bad. After all, another lesson from the books is that Hogwarts will always be there to welcome us home again when we need it. Growing up doesn’t have to mean leaving the magic behind entirely. I know now that I’m not a witch and that I don’t need to learn spells. But I can still choose to bring magic into my life. I may not have gotten the chance to visit Ollivanders when I was 11, but I was able to buy my own wand in high school when I visited Universal Studios Florida.

And even if you can’t make it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there are still so many ways to keep the magic alive in your life. Maybe it’s wearing clothes that make you feel magical, awing a child with a magic trick, or even just introducing someone to the Harry Potter books. After all, the best thing about magic is sharing it with someone else. The best compliment I’ve ever received was a kid telling me that I made it all seem real, almost like magic really did exist.

Harry Potter helped make me who I am today. I first started writing because of it, which helped me discover just how passionate I am about literature. Later this year, I’ll be starting my English PhD program, and I can’t help but look back to the very beginning of my path where a six-year-old girl clutched a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, realizing the power of words.

Harry Potter taught me courage and compassion as I watched these characters come into their own and learn to stand up for themselves. I was once a shy, scared kid, but with the help of my favorite characters, I learned to stand up straight and be unashamed of who I am. These days, I’m proud to call myself a Gryffindor.

Harry Potter gave me a community. Whether it was the kids I knew at school, the fans I met at book releases, or the vibrant community I interacted with online, there were always people I could turn to who were just as passionate about the series as I was. I learned to laugh and cry with these people as we read, wrote, and bedecked ourselves in robes. Even today, when I see someone on the street wearing something Harry Potter related, I still feel that spark of connection, and that is truly magical.

Ultimately, that’s the true impact of Harry Potter: community. Yes, we all may have graduated to the real world, but we’ve still kept the magic alive for all these years afterward, and we’ve passed that same magic on to the next generation as well. While it may not be a physical place, there’s no denying that Hogwarts will forever live in our hearts and souls.