20 Life Lessons I Learned from Harry Potter

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For Millennials like myself, Harry Potter wasn’t just a book
series; it was everything. When Harry Potter enrolled as a first year
student at Hogwarts, many of us were starting school for the first time
too. The end of the book/movie series even finished around our high
school or college graduation. We grew up with Harry Potter, and his
story developed with ours.

So it comes as no surprise that there are several life lessons the
majority of our generation learned from the series along the way. After
all, Harry Potter wasn’t exactly the “chosen one” when it came to being a
model student. Here are 20 life lessons we learned from Harry Potter
over the course of the series and our adolescent lives.

1. We can’t change our past, but we can change our future

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Despite the inconsistencies that Hermione’s time turner created for
the novel’s plot (because why save only Buckbeak when they could save
Lily and James Potter too, am I right?), the above still rings true. Our
past shapes us as people, but it doesn’t have to shape the course of
our lives. While it can be said that all the series’ characters are
prime examples of this, the most obvious of all is Harry, who lost his
parents as a baby and as a result had to live with his retched uncle,
aunt, and cousin afterward. And yet, this all changed his life for the
better by him choosing to attend Hogwarts. The rest is magical history.

2. Sometimes we have to face our fears to get what we want

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As much as we’d all like to stay in the comfort of our bubble,
sometimes life requires us to pop it for our own good. In Ron’s case,
“following the spiders” meant finding the answer to rescuing Hermione
from her stunned state in the second novel, “Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets”. In Harry’s case, learning to use his patronus meant
protecting himself and others from the soul-sucking power of the
Dementor’s kiss. In our case…well, we just have to get through an
average day to make it to bed by the end.

3. Money can’t buy happiness

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You know what people say – money isn’t everything. And it’s not, but
it’s hard when you’re a young kid unlocking a vault full of galleons to
not think it is. And let’s be real, seeing Harry practically rolling in
money like Scrooge McDuck probably sparked the inner gold-digger in all
of us. That is, of course, until we realized the Mirror of Erised didn’t
show him a landmine of coins, but rather the reason for his inherited
wealth – his deceased parents. Still, think that trolley full of pumpkin
pasties were a fair trade for a family? Yeah, didn’t think so.

4. We are never truly alone

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All of us are subject to the feeling of loneliness, but are we ever
truly alone? While seemingly on his own most of the time, Harry Potter
always had the support of his friends and guardians, showing us that
there’s no such thing as ever being truly alone. The best example of
this in the series for me was when Harry wasn’t receiving any letters
from his friends all summer, feeling neglected and rejected by them,
only to find out Dobby had been hiding them from him the entire time.
The next scene that followed, with Ron and the Weasley twins rescuing
him in their flying car, was just the cherry on top of the
surrounded-by-support sundae.

5. Friends will get you out of trouble, but best friends will get in trouble with you

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Sure, a friend will help you out of a predicament (like Lupin did
when Snape caught Harry with the Marauder’s Map), but a true best friend
will be right there in the thick of it. Any time Harry found himself in
a troubling situation, Ron and Hermione faced it with him. I mean,
think about it. Can you imagine facing a whomping willow, three-headed
dog, and life-size lethal chess set without your best friends? My guess
is no.

6. Sometimes we have to face our own battles alone

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As much as it helped to have his friends through every obstacle,
Harry always ended up confronting his challenger alone and for good
reason. We can’t rely on our friends or family to somehow save us from
our own problems every time. We have to learn to fight our own battles
at some point, whether it’s dealing with the petty jealousy of a friend
when you’re unknowingly entered in a contest, or defeating a massive
basilisk in the demented water park of your school’s basement. No one
said it’d be easy, but Harry Potter proved it’d be worth it.

7. Animals are sometimes (and often) better company

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I don’t think any of us needed the Harry Potter series to learn this
life truth, but somehow seeing Harry happily flying over the Hogwart’s
lake with Buckbeak and stroking Hedwig’s head after a hard day made this
lesson 10 times more relatable.

8. Confidence is not the same thing as bravery

Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart

While Gryffindor was known for producing the bravest of the Hogwart’s
bunch, Ravenclaw was known for producing an imitation hero, and his
name was Professor Lockhart. More than anyone in the novels, Gildroy
Lockhart proved to us that bravery comes from within and cannot be
confused with its egotistical cousin, confidence. And look where all
that “bravery” got him – a faulty memory, a worthless book deal, and the
boot from Hogwarts.

9. You should never let anyone get the best of you

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We may not have realized it as children, but Malfoy’s slandering of
Muggles, especially Hermione, was an evident example of the prominence
of racially-charged bullying. Hermione’s “non-magical blood” made her an
enemy in the eyes of the “pure-blood” Slytherins (tell me that’s not a
reference to racism). However, Hermione showed us how we shouldn’t be
defined by what we are, but rather who we are. And she certainly
succeeded in doing so when she punched Malfoy in the third novel. You
go, Hermione.

10. There’s always some mysterious force working in our favor (or to our disadvantage)

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This kind of goes along the same lines as the “you’re never alone”
lesson, but speaks to the surprise element of our sly support system.
While Harry didn’t know it throughout the course of the series, Snape
was always on the side of Dumbledore in protecting Harry from Voldemort,
despite Harry’s continuous distrust in him. On the flip side, Harry
trusted Mad-Eye Moody in the fourth novel and ended up in a graveyard
with the reinvented Voldemort to be nearly killed. So if you think about
it, the Harry Potter series destroyed our trust in everyone.

11. You should never go anywhere alone without telling or bringing someone

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This life lesson was beaten into our brains when we were kids, but
still applies to us adults. If we learned anything from Hermione
discovering a psychotic troll in the girl’s bathroom while alone, it’s
that we should always tell someone where we’re going or bring a buddy
with us. Girls, this is a warning – never let your friends go to the
bathroom in a bar alone. You never know what other kind of troll is
going to be lurking nearby.

12. There’s more to others than meet the eye

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Often times we unintentionally judge others based on their
appearance, but sometimes our assessments aren’t accurate. A great
example of this in the Harry Potter series was the character of Sirius
Black. For the majority of the third novel, all of us, including Harry,
thought he was some crazy, traitorous murderer with a bone to pick with
the Potter boy. Then J.K. Rowling did a 180 and turned him into the
caring, cool godfather trying to avenge Harry’s parents. Talk about a
plot twist.

13. Adolescent dances are terrible

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Do I need to say more? After watching Ron pine after Hermione,
Hermione cry over Ron, and Harry sit alone like every uninterested young
boy after his date angrily left him to go dance, I think we could all
say the movie scene brought back a lot of bad memories. Those dances
should just be banned all together, right Umbridge?

14. Being invisible isn’t as great as we think it’d be

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As great as the superpower may seem for every introvert and grumpy
cat-like person, invisibility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure,
it’s pretty awesome that Harry gets to move around unnoticed and avoid
unwanted attention, but the costs sometimes come more than the rewards.
Take for instance when Harry’s roaming around Hogsmeade in his
invisibility cloak. He’s all happy, licking a lollipop, and then all of a
sudden – boom. He overhears the rumor that Sirius betrayed his his
parents. In the next moment, Harry’s crying in the snow and shouting,
“He was their friend!” Yeah, I think I’d rather have the gift of cooking
delicious Harry Potter meals instead.

15. Ultimate power must be used with caution

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If there’s anything we’ve learned from Harry Potter, it’s that power
is a great and terrible thing. When it’s used for good, power has the
ability to change the world for the better. When it’s used for evil
though, power has the ability to destroy it. Aside from Voldemort, the
best example the novels give us of the detrimental nature of ultimate
power is the creation of the elder wand. Wizards have to kill its master
to own it, friends kill each other to own it…it’s just all around a
machine of destruction. However, I will say the elder wand would make a
fantastic travel companion. Accio best vacation ever? I think so.

16. With age comes wisdom

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Of all the quotes I’ve accumulated in Word documents, notebooks, and
Pinterest over the years, the majority of them come from the Harry
Potter series – and most of those were spoken by none other than
Dumbledore himself. Whenever Harry found himself in a tough situation,
we could always rely on Dumbledore to give brilliant advice or offer a
wise suggestion. After all, the man had lived for over a century. It’s
not too far-fetched to say he’d learned a couple things or two in his
lifetime.

17. With age comes attractiveness (or unattractiveness)

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I’m not the first to say it, but I think I speak for us all when I
say Neville pleasantly surprised everyone by the end of the movie
series. Talk about a transformation! It just goes to show us that
attractiveness can develop over time, and the same goes for
unattractiveness. Not to name names, but a certain Gryffindor cutie
didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped he would.

18. The power of love is stronger than the power of hatred

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The phrase “kill them with kindness” applies here. We can’t possibly
win over everyone, but Harry Potter showed us that we can triumph in our
relationships with loved ones. Even with Voldemort’s constant death
threats, Harry Potter always had a support system of family and friends
to help him along the way. And in the end, that made all the difference.

19. Sometimes our enemies turn out to be our friends in disguise

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Have you ever known someone you couldn’t stand, only to find out they
were actually a pretty decent, bearable person? The question’s
rhetorical, but it’s true – our original assumptions of others are often
not as spot on as we think. In Harry Potter’s life, this seemed to be
especially relevant. From Snape to Sirius, to even Dobby, Harry was
proven wrong time and time again by his initial judgments. Then again,
when you’ve got an entire band of evil misfits against you, it’s safe to
say you’d be a little weary of people too.

20. Magic exists, even for us Muggles

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It’s cheesy, I know, but there’s a certain magic we all experience at
some point or another in our lives. While it might not be in the form
of witchcraft, the magic we come across can be found in the people,
places, and things around us. There’s magic in travelling, writing,
reading, music, friendship, love, you name it; and it’s often found
where it’s sought.

So for those of us who began and ended our childhood with Harry Potter, fear not. The magic lives on, just in a different way.

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