Dealing with Differences

August 20, 2013

Dear Professor Lupin,

How can I deal with being different than everyone else? They judge me and mock me. It hurts.

What should I do?


Dear Oswin,

I know something about being different from others. From an early age, and for everyone’s protection (my own included) I was isolated, set apart from the group. I did not know people, apart from my parents, I did not know friends. I cannot state decisively what I consciously felt at such a young age, but in reflection the one unchanging element I had was my parents’ love. And in all of my loneliness as a child, while I did not have friends, the family ties I had were undeniable. My parents and I moved as one.

At Hogwarts, a place I only ever dreamed of attending before it became a reality, even among all of those children, I still was unique. It was painful, really. The fear that my biggest differences would be discovered, called out into the open, and I would be shamed, ridiculed, feared, attacked… I would be remiss if I did not state that there were trying times when I wasn’t sure I had the fortitude to face my peers each day.

But something happened. Quite without trying, friendship that I had never had reached for, reached me. For the longest time, I asked myself, what could it be that brought me such happiness, that brought me James and Sirius. I didn’t realize then that it was my difference that made it possible. You see, as strange as it may seem, and as devastating and outlandish as my affliction – my “difference” – was, what resulted from my fear and my early isolation from others was a profound respect for others – a respect and understanding, in a way, a perspective that only an outsider would have – that attracted my friends to me.

My uniqueness, about which I assure you I feared every fear growing up, made me a stand-out candidate for a budding group of friends. I became the conscience of the group – James and Sirius would admit it – mostly because of how I quite unwittingly cared for others. And the rules. I tempered their bold and brash behavior with a humanizing concern for the right-and-wrong that they wouldn’t have heard coming from any other voice than from someone who absolutely clung to it (in my case, for safety). They all bore my burdens, and reaped the rewards of caution that I had learned the hard way, in my self-doubt.

We were the Marauders. Each one of us was different and unique. As a group, we were nearly unstoppable. An immovable force. Inseparable, too. I was the last person I expected to see running around, gaining notoriety and having friends, having fun, but I found the group that my uniqueness could benefit – or rather, as I stated, it found me – and I held on for dear life as life took its course.

In my life there were periods both of great loneliness and great joy. There were times when my family was all that I had, and times when my friends and I accomplished things nobody had ever done before. My advice to you, Oswin, is that you should embrace yourself and your uniqueness. There is nobody else that you can be. You are the missing piece in a puzzle, that as-yet unidentified, crucial piece that completes the whole. There are pieces, people, that will connect with you directly. While the journey finding them may be lonely, I assure you it is one well worth taking.

Remus Lupin