I am writing to you as a totally new person. A lot has changed since we first met.
I first heard about you when I was in fifth grade, and I instantly knew that if I had gone to Hogwarts or if you joined me at McKinley Elementary, we would get along.
I’ve always been one of those kids who was a little different. In first grade, my class did a vote on who would win the 2008 Super Bowl. Everyone in my class voted for the Giants- that is, everyone except for me. I didn’t even know who the football teams were, but I knew that someone needed to support the Patriots, and I would be the one to do it. People teased me for a while, but I never changed my mind. I even went out and got a Patriots shirt for the game. I laugh about it now- what kid would go so far as to buy merchandise for a team that isn’t in her home state?- but I’d like to think you’d be proud of me. After all, you were always one to look out for the underdogs too.
When I started reading the Order of the Phoenix, I knew you were who I wanted to be for Halloween. I admired the way you went through life- you were the type of person who was unapologetically herself and didn’t let anyone else trip you up. Never mind the fact that you weren’t as well known as Hermione, you were way cooler, and a lot smarter than you got credit for. You also had the best style! I wore knee-high sneakers and a pink peacoat that October, and kept them around even after the holiday. My style was the craziest it has ever been, but it was also the time when I was the least self-conscious. If you could do it, then so could I.
My love for your series faded around middle school. (Yes, I said your series. I know Harry gets all the glory, but you were just as much a part of the story as he was!) Loving something as much as I loved those books was seen as a bad thing, and I didn’t want to be any weirder than I was starting to think I was.
I kept on loving things, but in smaller ways and with fewer people. Looking back, it was scarily easy to get rid of everything I threw myself into. So what if I had proudly sported Hogwarts shirts at least two times a week? No one else at my school wore clothes like that. Nobody else spent their free time reading, either.
So I bagged up my old clothes and packed away my books. I shopped for better shirts and begged my mom for a straightener, even though my hair was practically straight already. I shared my interests with a close group of people, but made them swear not to tell. After all, loving things was bad now. It was a weakness.
It took rereading your story in college to make me realize that I am allowed to be whoever I want, however I want. It felt good to see someone who was so completely herself. Your entire compartment on the Hogwarts Express made fun of you, but you didn’t care. You were blunt in calling Ron out about the Yule Ball and laughed for way too long at his (really bad) jokes. You wore what you wanted and didn’t worry about how you looked to someone as famous as Harry Potter himself. You supported your father when everyone else dismissed him as crazy, and you kept your head up when people turned on you, too. You were brave just by being yourself, and I know that I can do the same. I can hang radishes from my ears and read newspapers upside down if that’s what makes me happy, and in the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Even with some of my rediscovered self-confidence, when I found out I was sorted into Ravenclaw, I had a little bit of a crisis. I have always prided myself on my intelligence (sometimes a bit too much), but now that I had been placed in the “smart House”, I wasn’t sure if I could live up to the expectations. Who has the time to answer a riddle every time you want to go to bed? What kind of weird punishment is that?
You could call me book-smart, but I’m no straight-A student, and I’m definitely not street-smart. However, I shouldn’t have worried so much. You showed me that not every Ravenclaw has to be traditionally smart, and not everyone can be so easily defined. Not everyone should be so easily defined. In reading about you, I’ve had the chance to look at myself and figure out what it means to really be me. It’s a slow journey, but at least I’ve found a place to start.
Thank you for teaching me how to stand tall.