Once in a lifetime, something comes along that changes everything. For me, that thing was Harry Potter.
And for the last 17 years, more than half my young life, Harry Potter has helped shape me into the woman I am today. Hermione taught me that it was OK to be a smart, capable woman. Harry taught me that love and friendship is more important than power. Ron taught me that you don’t have to be in the spotlight in order to be important. And Neville (my fave character) taught me that anyone can be a hero. Harry Potter honestly saved my life. I wrote about how much the books have meant to be on my other blog, Wrong Button Blog, a while back. Here’s an excerpt:
I’ve talked a little before on the profound effect the Harry Potter book series has had on my life, and I wish I had more time to express just how much (someday I could write a whole book on it). I have been a Harry Potter devotee since Christmas morning 1998 when my grandfather gifted me the book after I had heard about it on the news. I had no idea at the time just how much Harry Potter would come to mean to me.
Despite having a perfectly fun and normal childhood, I also felt different growing up in my small town in Central California. I knew that there was more out there for me than the life plan most of the people I knew envisioned for themselves. I had a few friends, but still spent most of my time alone, not sure how to truly relate to people my own age. On a deeper and sadder level, while I didn’t live in a cupboard under the stairs, I knew what it felt like to have extended family members who treated you less than kindly. On a day-to-day basis, I was picked on, ignored and made to feel different by my classmates (though frankly, I was quite different from the types of people I knew in my small town). But I took solace in the words of J.K. Rowling, knowing that even though Harry wasn’t real — I wasn’t alone. Aside from the bullying that many young people experience, my time as an almost teenager was made 100 times harder after my parents got divorced when I was 12 years old. But even on my hardest day, I knew that I could always escape to the world of Hogwarts. Despite knowing that it was all fictitious, I desperately longed to leave my own reality behind and trade it for the magical world Harry and his friends lived in. So much so, I even started a small “Hogwarts” in my house and invited 3 of my friends to come over and we’d write with quills and pick our Houses and make believe for hours.
Following my parent’s divorce, I was looking for an outlet for my newly discovered talent for writing, as well as a place I could connect with likeminded Harry Potter fans. I needed something that could transport me out of the turbulent world I was living in, and I found it in the form of Role Playing Game writing. No, not like Dungeons & Dragons, these RPGs take place on Internet forums where people from all over the world can create stories together. The first one I joined was a Harry Potter site that had just launched, aptly named Virtual Hogwarts, which allowed writers to act as students at Hogwarts. At first, it was small, maybe a few dozen writers, but over the years the site boasts thousands of members and more than 12 years of continued storytelling. VH was the closest thing any of us Muggles could come to really attending Hogwarts. We could post in classroom forums led by writer’s acting as professors, post homework and even compete in Quidditch. I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing from this site and we had never even met in person. There, on the internet, I could just be myself. It was the first time in a long time that I had no fear of rejection, no fear of torment, but a sense of friendship and community.
You can read the full essay on Wrong Button Blog.