One of the scariest creatures in the Harry Potter universe is the Boggart: this creepy little critter can take on the form of whatever scares you the most in the world. They sound terrifying, but on a recent re-read of Prisoner of Azkaban, Reddit user Moonstone1966 had a sudden realization: Boggarts are the monsters that children see at night. According to this theory, all those times you spent as a child hiding under the covers because you were convinced something sinister was waiting for you under the bed or in the closet, you were actually being terrorized by a Boggart. In some translations of Harry Potter, this is even clearer; in Brazil, for example, the boggart was translated as "bicho-papão," which means "bogeyman" — and we all know that the bogeyman exists.
Professor Lupin says it himself: "Boggarts like dark, enclosed spaces ... Wardrobes, the gap beneath beds..." They're shape-shifters that can change their appearance to look like our worst nightmares — which for many children, is a monster hiding in the dark. Lupin also admits that "nobody knows what a boggart looks like when he is alone," meaning that no-one can prove that boggarts don't exist in the Muggle world, because nobody's seen one. Maybe that tax form waiting for you on your kitchen table is a boggart. Maybe that sense of existential dread you feel every Monday morning is a boggart. Maybe that red badge saying you have a new voicemail is a boggart — well, let's hope so.
But as scary as it may sound that boggarts might be haunting us in the Muggle world, it's not all bad news. Because whether a boggart shows itself to you as a monster under the bed, or as an email from your boss asking to see her in her office immediately, we can look to Harry Potter for an instant cure. As Lupin teaches his students, the best way to defeat a boggart is to laugh at it. So next time you're convinced there's a hairy monster hiding in your wardrobe or in your email inbox, just laugh at the boggart — and all the fear will go away.