My mom used to joke that my Harry Potter books were bigger than I was as a child. I started reading J.K. Rowling's beloved series when I was young, but my love of all things Hogwarts continued into my teenage years and young adulthood. As the characters got older, so did I. It's something totally unique to my generation: We grew up right alongside Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
But even if you didn’t literally grow up reading the books, you can still learn so much about the actual process of growing up from the pages of Harry Potter. Sure, it's a story about good versus evil, but it's also a coming-of-age story. Harry, Ron, and Hermione stumble through adolescent markers the same way I did — first crushes, first kisses, first friend feuds. Watching them grow up and grow into themselves was an invaluable lesson for young readers like me — there was so much to learn from those three characters, and not just about magic. There are quite a few gems hidden in the pages, and a lot of those things gave us all some motivation and insight into life. Here are a few things the series taught us all about growing up.
There Are Many Different Forms Of Bravery
Dumbledore pointed out in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone that "it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." Neville Longbottom is a great example of how bravery can take many forms. In the first book, it seemed he was afraid of everything, but he proved that sometimes the meekest person can grow into a force to be reckoned with.
Our Choices Matter
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore tells Harry that "it is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." Harry, Hermione, and Ron all learned this lesson throughout their years at Hogwarts, and it's something they carried with them to adulthood (as seen in Cursed Child.)
It's Not What You're Born With, But What You Grow To Be That Counts
Once again, Dumbledore proved his wisdom in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with a great quote about growing up. He tells Fudge that "it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."
Age Doesn't Always Denote Wisdom
It would be easy to say that Dumbledore was wise because of his years, but characters like Gilderoy Lockhart and Cornelius Fudge proved that sometimes even adults lack good sense. Dumbledore never belittled Harry for being young... and the young characters in the series proved that even children have the capacity for wisdom.
Just Because Something Isn't Working Out Right Away, Doesn't Mean It Never Will
A lot of the relationships in Harry Potter had rocky starts. For example, Ron and Hermione weren't each others' biggest fans, but they ended up together in the end. Growing up means admitting that first impressions aren't always correct — and the best relationships take work.
Anything's Possible If You've Got Enough Nerve
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ginny says that "the thing about growing up with Fred and George... is that you sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve."
Growing Up Can Change You
There are many characters in Harry Potter who are very different when they're younger. Probably the biggest example of this is James Potter. At a young age, he was reckless and sometimes didn't make the best decisions, but ultimately grew into a wise and brave father. Harry Potter taught us an important lesson: growing up can change you for the better.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures (1); Giphy (10)