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A few weeks ago the lovely people over at Attraction Tickets invited Ben and I to visit the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour on the outskirts of London.
As we walked around Hogwarts, Privet Drive and many other locations that (before the films) us as avid readers could only dream of, it got me reflecting back to those magical books and the life lessons that have stayed with me.
And because I love a list, I’m going to share them with you too! Oh and incase of spoilers, I’ve added some photos of the trip to a lil gallery at the end.
Two words. Neville. Longbottom.
Alright, in real-life we may not be facing Lucius and his crew on a mission to murder us all in cold-blood BUT the real lesson here is nurturing and maintaining friendships with people who have your back no matter what.
Over the years I’ve BEEN THROUGH SOME THINGS and those who stick around, call you at any hour, don’t mind seeing you with mascara all over your face and who just GET that you need to cancel plans are the real ride or dies. Everyone else just kind of falls away.
And for someone who can swing from a full Hagrid to a strong Lavender Brown (on a good day, with the right filters), this was really an important one.
Reading these books as a young adult, when I was battling with self-image and the pressures of teen-mag-society, gave me a strength.
Seeing Hermione fall for Ron over literary hunk Viktor Krum and Harry dip his toes in Cho Chang’s ILLUSTRIOUS pool before choosing (apparently) plain Jane Ginny showed us all that it doesn’t matter how much time you spend in the mirror of Erised if you’re a total Murtlap on the inside.
Perhaps you used to come home from your school where you proudly wore a uniform, had a huge gang of friends, could choose something other than beige from the canteen menu and DIDN’T have any creepy male teachers and loved the school aspect of the stories.
Or perhaps you used to bunk off from Business Studies at your estate comprehensive because the bullying was too much and your PE teacher had figured out your Mum’s handwriting wasn’t ACTUALLY your Mum’s and you were about to be put on report (again), (me).
Perhaps the books were a total escape. A vessel to show you that education is there to open your mind and good teachers are there to facilitate that BUT if you’re suddenly up against an Umbridge, it’s ok to jog it all on and start a million-pound business in the prank industry.
Feel free to fight me but Luna Lovegood was the COOLEST character in the entire series.
She was out there living her best Nargle-free life, rocking the turnip earrings (so fashun) and not giving a flying Furnunculus what anyone thought of her.
Luna showed us all that transitioning to a well-rounded and grounded adult starts with not getting caught up with the petty nastiness of being a teenager.
Any Harry Potter fan used to walk into school each day and look around at the kids who were spitting gum at the teachers, starting fights over Pogs or generally being ruffians and thought to themselves, ‘what a bunch of absolute muggles.’
This sentiment of not letting people who mean nothing to you affect how you live your life and your happiness is a lesson that all of us need. From those IT lessons you spend on chatrooms all the way to your career now.
If, like me, your family (not necessarily immediate) were more Dursleys than Weasleys, you found yourself relating to Harry’s plight.
Of feeling like the black sheep or on the edges but then finally finding a ‘family’ in his friendships with Sirius, the Hogwarts teachers, Hermione and the Weasleys.
The support they gave him and the home they made for him influenced his growing up WAY more than his time under the stairs and it showed us all that sometimes those we choose to surround ourselves with are more important than the ones we’re related to.
Learning that hatred is a wasted energy is a big lesson when you’re an angst-ridden young adult full of the throes of early PMS and an unabashed, severe dislike of ANY teenage girl who monopolised their love of Justin Timberlake so that you were stuck with Chris Fitzpatrick.
This has been a lesson that has stayed with me for so long. And it’s one I remind myself of regularly.
Why waste negative energy on someone you dislike when you could live your best life and completely ignore them?
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be pretty ecstatic if any of you wanted to drop a thou into my Paypal right now BUT a lesson that the Harry Potter books taught me was that money doesn’t equal happiness.
We grew up relatively ‘ok’ with regards to money. Like ‘couldn’t have yearly holidays but still could have a chippy supper’ kinda ok. But as a young adult who saw friends with the latest trainers, off on expensive holidays and being able to have their own room, you find yourself wishing for more.
But the stories showed us that a family like the Weasleys, who struggled but were too proud to show their struggles were far more happy at their cores than the miserable Malfoys who would rob your goblin of its last Galleon in a heartbeat.
Dumbledore always dropped some philosophical bangers, didn’t he?
And this one stayed with me for a very long time.
As someone who always felt distinctly average at everything she attempted – from Netball to Maths to eyebrows – it made me realise that as long as I continually strived to be a good person and radiate goodness into the world then it didn’t really matter if I couldn’t do the dance to TLC Waterfall as good as my friends could.
I didn’t like being reminded of this when I was having a good ole bitch behind Linda’s back though, but we’re always learning aren’t we!
As someone who has struggled with my mental health from a very young age, understanding that my anxiety was always going to be worse than the actual eventuality of anything that could ever happen is something that often helps when I’m on a downer.
And certainly helped, in 1999 when I got myself into SUCH a worry that my Science teacher would discover that it was I who wrote, ‘bugger off’ under my desk and after Linda ratted me out that I almost vomited.
A huge thank you to Attraction Tickets who gave us the tickets to the tour in exchange for this blog post. I highly recommend it for Potter fans and it might stir up some terrific memories for you too! You can click here to book your tickets.
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