For a lot of us, the first time we opened the cover of our first Harry Potter book, our lives magically transformed for the better.
This immersive universe is home to a plethora of multidimensional characters that have so much to teach us about friendship, determination and following the path that is right for you, and these lessons stick with us into adulthood.
1. Never Judge A Book By It's Cover
Remember that moment when you realized all those mean teachers you had when you were in school were just looking out for your best interests, and probably the most caring teachers of the bunch? Harry Potter had a similar revelation with Snape.
Snape showed that love doesn't simply disappear after death and that those we are devoted to will continue to shape our lives everyday, no matter how many years have gone by since then. Snape showed that you can find heroes in the most unlikely of places, and J.K. said it best with the emotive line:
He (Snape) was a Slytherin who died a Gryffindor.
I'm not crying, there's just something in my eye.
2. Love Will Conquer All
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
We may not have magic in our muggle world, but we do have love, which is what helps to make the Harry Potter world so relatable. A recurring theme throughout the book series is that love is the best solution, even though at first you might rashly rush to thoughts of greed or revenge.
3. You Can Overcome Your Fears
“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry, Hermione and Ron are such relatable heroes because they all manage to conquer their own fears for the greater good, and as acts of valuable self-improvement.
If Harry already knew what it would take for him to defeat Voldemort and live a happy life at the beginning of the first book, there would have been no story; but it was Harry's psychological journey deep into the heart of his fears and identity that made the tale of "The Boy Who Lived" the perfect coming of age epic.
4. Good And Evil Are Far From Black And White
Although Harry Potter is, in its purest form, a story of good conquering evil, the camps that each character inhabit are from from set in stone.
Even the most despicable character in the books, Lord Voldemort himself, is given a sympathetic backstory to explain how he became such a selfish force of evil. On the flip-side, Harry Potter himself was shown many times to have a spiteful and vindictive side that the sorting hat sussed out when it saw he had Slytherin tendencies.
We spent hours and hours of reading time loathing Draco Malfoy, but J.K. Rowling encouraged us to see him for what he was: a scared young man who got in way over his head and was forced to deal with the dire consequences of his own poor decisions.
5. Challenge Authority
One of the recurring themes throughout the Potter series is that just because society, the media or the government says something, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's true.
Rowling encouraged her readers to look within themselves for their own moral compass and question the things that are right and wrong with the world as opposed to just being spoon fed opinions. Harry Potter lovers are encouraged to approach things with a spirit of curiosity and foster a sense of self-sufficiency as opposed to passive obedience and blind acceptance.
6. Courage Comes In Many Forms
When we think of courage in Harry Potter, we might be immediately drawn to huge challenges such as standing up to powerful villains and figures of authority, but J.K. Rowling recognizes that courage comes in many forms.
Rowling taught us that something as simple as standing up against the cool kids (like nerdy Neville at the end of the first book) requires a monumental display of courage and helped us feel like we weren't alone in our teenage struggles.
7. Everyone Deserves Respect
The Harry Potter series is full of inequality between different species and prejudice against those who have a different "blood purity." Despite the fact that he himself is a hugely important figure, Harry himself chooses to ignore this and treat everyone like a friend, whether they be a House Elf or a head teacher. The lesson that everyone deserves respect is one that will hold you in good steed throughout life.
8. Hope Cannot Be Extinguished
In the wise words of Albus Dumbledore:
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Alkaban
With just a little optimism and belief in yourself, even the darkest of circumstances can be infiltrated by the power of hope.
9. Change Is Always Possible
Probably the most important thing that Harry Potter can teach every single one of us is that it's important to constantly strive to make positive change in your life. Only you have the power to change how you live, and while this is a great responsibility, it is also incredibly liberating when you begin to make small changes that accumulate into bigger ones.