I Took All of Albus Dumbledore’s Advice for a Week, and Here’s What Happened
Fun fact: I’m almost 30. Does this mean that I know how to live my life? It does not.
In reality, I am almost devoid of adult responsibility, can’t cook, struggle to make it out of bed before noon on days when I don’t have work, and do not understand what one does to keep a boyfriend. This is all to say that I’m 100% the target market for self-help books, except that due to making my parents’ predictions come true and taking jobs “for love rather than money” (read: “for stress rather than money”), I can’t really afford self-help books.
But who needs them – when you can just mine your favorite novels for advice from the wisest of fictional characters to directly and completely apply out of context to the problems in your real life? To be honest, my spirit guide is pretty much a combination of Lupin, Gandalf, Marmee from Little Women, and C.J. Cregg from The West Wing (which will be useful if I ever wind up with two turkeys in my office). But for many of us, what J.K. Rowling created in the character of Albus Dumbledore takes the rest of them to the cleaners (pour water on those flames, friends – I do not care!) in terms of being a constant fount of wise and useful advice.
Ever since Rowling revealed, in the final two books of the Harry Potter series, that Dumbledore was a much more complex and enigmatic character than we’d first imagined, a lot of smack hath been spoken about him in some fierce online debates. How wise is a guy who trains an eleven-year-old kid up to sacrifice himself for the good of the many?
Well, look: No one’s perfect. And you’ve got to admit that everything Dumbledore did, he did for a reason (and that he has, indeed, got style).
So I decided that, in order to spring-clean my life, rather than spending $39.95 on another book that will tell me to only eat green vegetables (ugh) and spend quality time cleansing my toxic liver with my own tears (double ugh), I would instead take the advice of Albus Dumbledore every day for a week. I made myself some cards to draw from in tough situations (don’t judge; we can’t all be artists) to find out whether Dumbledore’s advice could create hope in even the darkest of times (i.e., my life).
I had intended to go for a run today, but it’s raining, and as everybody knows, that is a totally legitimate excuse not to go running and to instead eat chips while scrolling through other people’s Instagram photos of brunches they magically had by leaving the house. Then I feel guilty about not putting on a raincoat and going running anyway. I asked Dumbledore what he thought.
This is very profound, and I try to apply it to the context of my life. It’s too late for me to grow to be Usain Bolt, honestly. I was born a skinny white girl; I grew to be… oh, nevermind.
I realize this advice is all about deciding if I want to be the kind of person who grows to go running all the time or the kind of person who is all about Netflix and chill. And I imagine this quandary is how Draco Malfoy felt when deciding if he wanted to let a cavalcade of murderers into his school or not. It’s basically exactly the same.
I decide I’m probably more a yoga sort of person. Maybe it would’ve been better for Draco if he were, too.
Was advice helpful: Unclear. Will wait to see whether I actually act on the yoga thing
Today, a colleague sends me an email that gets on my nerves. I’m about to email back and tell them exactly what I think of their stupid suggestion when I realize this is the perfect time to let Albus Dumbledore intervene in my life. Today’s card says,
This is really true. If people just got their crap together and truly believed this, we wouldn’t be kicking refugees out of countries where they could happily live in peace, and also, there probably wouldn’t be any wars.
But back to me. Obviously, this advice suggests that I should make peace with my workmate, allowing us to unite against the true enemy ruining both our lives – the people who make corn chips so darn delicious.
I think that’s what Dumbledore meant?
Was advice helpful: Yes. I realize I’m really glad I didn’t get Dumbledore’s quote about the benefits of standing up to your friends,because this would’ve resulted in a very different outcome.
I get a drunk-text from a long-forgotten ex-boyfriend. At 3 p.m. This is not a good situation, regardless of what it says (I’m not going to tell you what it says; this is a family-friendly space). I feel like Albus Dumbledore would know what to do, so I draw a card. This is his suggestion:
At first, I admit I get a little Lucius Malfoy on that shizzle. I tell imaginary Dumbledore that he’s deluded and that his advice is rubbish and also that he’s dead. Fictional Hagrid tells me never to insult Albus Dumbledore in front of him.
I worry about my mental health and wonder if I should just buy a book by Oprah.
Then I realize what Dumbledore’s telling me: I take out my phone, open my ex-boyfriend’s text, and type in the words “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” A minute later the phone beeps a reply. And then another one. I don’t look at them.
I still haven’t.
Was advice helpful: Yes.
This morning I was sprinting for the bus, tripped, and bailed – totally and utterly bailed – straight onto both knees. My pants were ripped; there was blood everywhere, and people slowed down in their passing cars to gawk at me.
I tried, as humans inexplicably do, to act completely unconcerned, like I was just having a little break on the sidewalk, swimming in my own blood while getting rained on. I’d like to think I escaped with my dignity. Once I had hobbled, bleeding profusely, to the bus, I asked Albus Dumbledore for some reassurance.There is no dignity and no justice. Thanks, Dumbledore.
Was advice helpful: No.
Today has been very stressful for me; I forgot I had a freelancing deadline, and I’m pulling an all-nighter while completely devoid of inspiration. I wonder what Albus Dumbledore would do (or WWAPWBDD?, as I’m thinking of getting inscribed onto rubber wristbands; don’t sue me, Warner Bros.). He would probably have started his article earlier, but that’s hardly helpful advice right now. I draw a card in the hope of some creative inspiration to get me through this awful night.
I put on some fluffy socks and feel a lot better. I actually think I can write 2,000 more words with warm feet. Maybe I wasn’t utterly lacking in creativity and a failure at everything; I was just a bit nippy.
Was advice helpful: Honestly, this is pretty much the best kind of advice, like not going swimming right after lunch. It’s practical and easy to follow. If only Dumbledore were always less cryptic and more obvious. I like this Dumbledore. The Bible should be this straightforward also.
My boyfriend, a vociferous chain smoker, is trying to get me to kick my Diet Coke habit because he’s worried I’m going to get cancer. Other than the obvious problem inherent in that sentence, I also face the difficulty that nothing else will make my daily, 3 p.m. life-induced headache go away more than a nice, cool can (I promise I’m not getting paid by Coca-Cola or else I’d be dictating this from a beach somewhere while fanning myself with money).
Today, when the 3 p.m. headache strikes, I look to Albus Dumbledore for advice on standing firm:
This is very good advice. In my context, I take it to mean that it does not do to dwell on dreams in which I drink water and eat carrot sticks or a nice juicy apple to get rid of my mid-afternoon headaches. That would mean forgetting to live, and by “living,” in this case, I mean “consuming a Diet Coke and half a Snickers bar.”
Was advice helpful: Thanks, Dumbledore!
I have a really stressful meeting, for which I now realize I didn’t fully prepare. I can’t just pull out my Albus Dumbledore advice cards in the middle of it – that would have, if anything, made things worse – but as soon as I get outside I look to one for reassurance. This is what I got:
I angrily text my boyfriend to tell him that his “hilarious prank” is, like, a thousandth as funny as he thinks it is. But it does remind me that life constantly throws us the unexpected, and I think Albus would be down with that.
Was advice helpful: Not really; I can’t go to Heathrow because I live in New Zealand. And airports generally make me feel a bit sick. I’m not sure why – I think it’s the weird recycled air and my fear of death. Ah, Hugh Grant; you are no Dumbledore.
I’m clearing out my bookshelf of self-help books. The only life advice I need is in these seven beloved volumes.
Albus Dumbledore should do infomercials. He’d make a killing.