Trust Me, You Don’t Want a Time-Turner
The Harry Potter books are truly the Books of Requirement; whenever I revisit them, I seem to find within the story precisely the message I need at that point in my life. My recent rereading of Prisoner of Azkaban was no different. This time around, the story I needed to hear the most was that of Hermione’s experience with the Time-Turner. I needed to hear that – no matter how much I may wish for one when I’m up to my eyes in homework – following Hermione’s example and applying for a Time-Turner would be a very bad idea.
I’ve always seen much of myself in Hermione, but after reading Prisoner of Azkaban again, it became apparent that we were much more similar than I had previously thought. Hermione and I both shoehorn as many classes and activities as we possibly can into our schedules and are reluctant to give any of those activities up. Overall, both of us are able to keep up with our work, but when we do fall behind, everything else snowballs until we find ourselves buried in an avalanche. The pressure we put ourselves under takes its mental and physical toll.
Maybe you’ve fantasized about having a Time-Turner before; I certainly have. I could take all the classes I loved, join all the clubs I want to, work more hours at my job, and still have time to play music, read, and binge-watch Stranger Things. Hermione was probably thinking along the same lines when she received a Time-Turner in her third year. But Hermione’s Time-Turner is not so much a blessing as it is a curse; by cramming more than 24 hours into one day, she very quickly burns out.
By the end of the semester, Hermione gets so stressed she cracks. Her voice becomes high-pitched and hysterical; she forgets to go to Charms and quits Divination; she breaks down crying in Hagrid’s cabin more than once; she probably falls asleep on a stack of homework in the common room more often than Harry notices. I’ve driven myself to this breaking point more than once. I’ve dreamed of having a Time-Turner for years, but having the ability to stretch out my already jam-packed schedule would quickly become a nightmare.
Harry and Ron struggle to keep up with everything too, but Hermione’s example resonates more with me because I have always wanted to be Hermione. She’s brilliant and hardworking; she gets top marks in everything; she takes ten classes, does extra reading and research, knows more spells than anyone else in her year, runs a house-elf advocacy organization, and still has time to help Harry out of whatever trouble he gets himself into.
I want to work as hard and accomplish as much as Hermione does, but in trying to do so, I can easily set myself up for anxiety and stress when something inevitably doesn’t go according to plan. I had to learn that becoming overwhelmed by my goals did not make me a failure, just as deliberately overwhelming myself did not make me a success. Even Hermione Granger gets overwhelmed; even Hermione needs to step back, drop a couple of classes, and take care of herself sometimes. Realizing that I was becoming third-year Hermione with her Time-Turner was powerful motivation for me to start taking small steps toward changing my lifestyle.
What can we do when, like Hermione, we find ourselves overwhelmed? The most important thing to remember is that working hard does not mean taking on more than you can handle and neglecting your own well-being. It’s far more important to stay hydrated, well fed, and well rested than it is to do anything else. Personally, I still have a long way to go toward achieving a healthy balance in my life, but the small steps I’ve taken to care for myself have already dramatically improved my well-being.
We all have the potential to be as powerful and formidable as Hermione Granger ultimately becomes. In order to get there, however, we must emulate not only Hermione’s work ethic but also her eventual decision to prioritize herself above all else. When Hermione realized this, she dropped Divination and Muggle Studies and handed in her Time-Turner. Do you have any strategies you use to keep yourself from becoming too overwhelmed? Let us know in the comments!