Why Harry and Luna Have Been My Biggest Role Models
CONTENT WARNING: This article contains mentions of child abuse and may be triggering to readers who are abuse survivors.
I was first introduced to the Harry Potter series when I was about five years old. At first glance, we see a kid live through hardship after hardship. We see his joy, and we see his pain. We watch him learn and grow. We tell each other that this is a story of love and friendship through dark times. While this is all true, there are many more layers hidden between the pages.
It’s often joked about how we read a book series and then adopt it into our personalities for a few months afterward. However, I have found this to be true, and I believe there’s a reason for it. We are surrounded by influences as we live and grow throughout life. They help mold us. Every time we open a book, we find pieces of the person we want to be. We find role models and are inspired by their courage, loyalty, and love.
It can be difficult to acknowledge your pain while you are still living through it. When it is the norm for you, and you don’t know any different. It was not always easy for me to admit that I had a tough childhood. I had a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, and food on the table. I should be grateful, right? But as I have gotten older and have been able to separate myself from those in my past, it’s been easier for me to see what my life was really like. I had a roof over my head that smelled like cigarettes. I had a bed crammed into a filthy, messy room. I had half-rotten food in the fridge and stacks of moldy dishes in the sink.
I wasn’t given the opportunity to be a child. I was the youngest in the house and in charge of monitoring blood sugars. I was scrubbing at those dishes and shying away from the ants and spiders that infested the kitchen. And eventually, I was running about helplessly throwing water at our burning house. But as a child, when you have a parental figure telling you that they love you and that things will eventually get better, you have no choice but to believe them.
I often find myself thinking about the ten years Harry spent living with the Dursleys before the story really started. How long did he believe that things would get better? How long did he wake up hoping that today would be the day things turn around? How long did he look at his living condition and think that this was okay?
I was more fortunate than most kids who have experienced neglect. Like Harry, I had an escape. I could go and visit my father and stepmother. I could stay in a clean house, sleep in a comfortable bed, and have fourth helpings of food at each meal. I was tucked into bed and had bedtime stories read to me. It was here that I was first introduced to the Harry Potter series.
Despite all my heartache living in my part-time, Dursley-ish home, I never allowed myself to become hateful. Harry taught me that you could survive abuse and still love and care for others. So I’d share what food I had with my friends. I’d help others with their homework. I’d listen to my friends rant about their struggles, and I’d offer up suggestions from the solution-based mindset I had adopted. I made it my goal to be a drop of light in other peoples’ lives, and I am happier for it.
Entering middle school and later high school, I was faced with a whole new problem: I knew how to love others, but I could not love myself. I still felt unworthy of love. I felt awkward and judged. I was often bullied by others for being a nerd and reading the Harry Potter books over and over again. I was far from being a “cool” kid. I had learned all I could from Harry, so it was time to search for a new role model. Someone who could hold my hand and tell me that it’s okay to be different. Someone who could tell me that it’s not only okay to love myself but that I actually deserve it. And that’s when Luna came into my life.
If Luna ever cared about people sniggering behind her back, she never showed it. She has a strength I will always admire. She’s quirky, different, creative, and proud of it. She doesn’t shy away from standing out in a crowd. She’ll let personal insults roll right off her back, but if anyone ever insults those she loves, she instantly becomes a fierce protector.
With Luna as my inspiration, I learned to acknowledge the things I love to do. I love reading and writing. I love being creative and finding solutions to challenges. I love being a leader and guiding others. I love helping others. Luna will not be my last role model. I still have much to learn, and I will continue to learn and grow for the remainder of my life so that I can become the best person I can be.
As Harry Potter fans, we have all bonded to the story in our own ways. Maybe we see a part of ourselves amongst the pages. Maybe we identify with characters. Or perhaps we escape into this far-away world when our own life gets too difficult. No matter the reason we take comfort in this story, we all come out having learned the same thing: love is our most powerful ally.