So I enjoyed writing one of my Harry Potter inspired life lessons two weeks ago SO MUCH that I thought I would do it again. So I bring you life lesson the second: Trust your friends. You don’t have to bear your burdens alone.
I have been blessed with some pretty phenomenal friends over the course of my life. If you don’t believe me, ask me about them sometime. I can gush for a good 6 or 7 hours and have only scratched the surface of how awesome they are. I’m talking really stellar people, who for one reason or another, seem to think I’m worth their time and friendship as well. And while I’ve always been ready and willing to drop everything for any one of those friends, I’ve always been hesitant to allow them to do the same for me.
I know I’m not alone in this. It’s hard to ask for help. It’s hard to trust people. It’s hard to admit that you can’t handle things on or own. It’s hard to confide in someone when you know they’re just going to worry and you want to spare them that.
So I’ve always been grateful that one of the overarching themes of the Harry Potter series is that you need to trust the people around you. Trusting people is a scary thing. It can backfire on you with catastrophic results. Case and point: James and Lily Potter (and I guess you could Sirius as well) trusted Peter Pettigrew to be their Secret Keeper. They trusted that he was still their friend, that he still had their best interests in mind. Really, though, he was a treacherous little sneak and had already sold out to Voldemort. Because James and Lily (and Sirius) trusted Peter, they lost their lives, Sirius lost his freedom, Lupin lost all of his friends in the space of about 48 hours, Harry lost his parents, etc etc.
But with the Peter Pettigrew incident aside, the Harry Potter books teach a lot about trust and learning to rely on other people and accept their help. Because Harry is a typical fantasy hero, he tries to do everything himself. He doesn’t want to put other people in danger, he doesn’t want other people to risk themselves for him, and he doesn’t want to admit that he needs help sometime. After all, the archetypal hero always faces the foe alone. That always seemed silly to me. You know, no man is an island and all that.
But Harry hardly does anything alone. He was blessed with some remarkable friends–Ron and Hermione chief among them. He has friends who are willing to stand at his side, regardless of how moody he’s being or how many people are targeting him. They care about him. They want to help him. At the beginning of Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore counsels Harry to confide in his friends, saying that Harry does them a disservice by not trusting them. He goes on to remind Harry that Sirius, who has recently fallen in battle, would not want Harry to shut himself off.
There are plenty of times when Harry tries to shut himself off from his friends. When he thinks that Voldemort’s possessing him in Order of the Phoenix or when he realizes that he’s going to have to go on a country wide search for Horcruxes at the end of Half-Blood Prince. In both instances, his friends refuse to let him retreat. Ron assures him that “we’re with you whatever happens.” I think it’s safe to say that Harry wouldn’t have gotten through the things he did without their assistance. Where would he be without Hermione’s hard work and intelligence? Where would he be without Ron’s heart and humor?
Six feet under, would be the appropriate answer.
Harry’s ability to trust and love his friends is one of his defining features–and it’s definitely one of his qualities that set him apart from Voldemort. Despite all he’s been through, despite the abuse he’s suffered at his aunt and uncle’s hands, despite the number of times he’s seen Hogwarts faculty break faith with the school (ie Quirell, Lockhart, Moody, and (supposedly) Snape), despite the number of times when Ron let petty jealousy or moodiness get in the way of their friendship, Harry continues to trust them. While Harry’s reliance on his friends may have caused more problems for them (and by “may have,” I mean “definitely”), he couldn’t have done what he did without them. Had their situations been reversed, I don’t doubt that Harry wouldn’t have done the same for his friends. He always comes to Ron’s defense when Malfoy starts on Ron’s family. He still hands by Hermione, even though she can be an overbearing know-it-all at times.
The true nature of friendship is selflessness and trust. You help your friends because you want to, because you care about them and want the best for them, and you trust them to do the same for you. I don’t think I can count the number of times when my friends have pulled through for me even (and perhaps especially) when I’m feeling wretched and unloveable. Being able to confide in your friends isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s not a sign that you can’t handle things or that you’re weak. In fact (and I think Professor Dumbledore would agree with me), I would say it’s a sign of great strength. At the end of the day, it takes more strength, more faith, to trust someone than to not.