Living in a cupboard isn’t fun.
I mean this literally, but figuratively as well. It’s easy to feel confined by the walls you or others have built around you, but those walls shouldn’t become your prison. It’s easy to hide parts of you or not acknowledge them to others out of fear of rejection, embarrassment, or regret, but no one deserves to live cramped and uncomfortable inside a cupboard with a ceiling that sprinkles dust on them when people walk overhead. Hiding yourself seems like the easier option at first, but it’s likely going to hurt you as time goes on. Whatever it is you’re hiding, whether it be that you turn into a werewolf at the full moon or something a little less extreme, that thing doesn’t define you, so don’t let it dictate how you live.
Don’t be afraid of your darker parts.
Fun fact: J.K. Rowling created dementors as a metaphor for depression. For her, these haunting figures represented a very real darkness she had experienced in her life. Everyone has experienced darkness, whether that darkness has passed or it follows them around, sucking all the joy out of their world. For many of us, the instinct to ignore or hide from such parts is natural. However, these parts of us are just as important to who we are as the parts we love. Whether it be something you aren’t proud of, a secret you’re holding, or something difficult that has happened to you, these things can build up in precarious piles around the edges of your life until they inevitably fall down on you. Instead of waiting for them to collapse, embrace the darker parts of you and your life. Confronting the cobwebby corners of your mind forces you to acknowledge difficult things, yes, but through the process, you learn that those things have helped make you who you are. Take a note from Rowling and banish your darkness with a patronus charm. Or, you know, a more muggle-like coping mechanism. Whatever works.
Don’t sacrifice your values.
If you’ve ever been in a position which required you to forego your values to meet expectations or requirements, you know it isn’t easy. And if you’re like me, it’s painful. It’s easier to cave in and follow expectations, no doubt, but there are times when obedience isn’t the answer. Consider our favorite magical trio. Harry, Ron, and Hermione chose to begin Dumbledore’s Army to fight against the restrictive and ineffective teaching policies of Hogwarts during the Umbridge days (shudder). If you’ve seen the movies or read the books (and if you haven’t, stop reading this now and go do that), you know this endeavor wasn’t without challenges or consequences. However, the students’ magical training helped keep them alive. While the related situations in your life probably aren’t of life or death importance (and if they are, I would advise you to stop reading this now as well and seek help instead), this same idea applies. It may be easier in the moment to do something you don’t believe in, but the regret that may come later just isn’t worth it.
The challenges, failures, and successes of the Harry Potter characters may be more magical than the ones we face (unfortunately), but they still can provide us with lessons we can apply to our own muggle lives. In my next and last post in this series, I will talk about the lessons the wizarding world taught me about success.