Everything I need to know, I learned from JK Rowling

We all have our different reactions when we hear the name “JK Rowling,” or “Jo Rowling,” or “Jo,” or “Rowling.” Some of us probably go to a place deep within our favorite Harry Potter novel. Some of us probably go to Twitter, a place where Miss Rowling kills it all day, everyday. Some of us might go to her real life story, a place of inspiration and hope. Some of us might think of it all—a beautiful combination of magic, mystery, and encouragement. I love my column, and I always say that I learned everything I know from everything, but this time it might be true. I really might have learned everything I need to know from J.K. Rowling. And since it’s her 50th birthday today, what better time to thank her for all she’s taught me.


1. Stand up for your beliefs. 

If you don’t follow Rowling on Twitter, you are definitely missing out on a lot of truth bombs and funny quips and excitement. Rowling has perfected the art of Twitter. She answers her fans (I mean, not all of them, but how could she?), she shuts down naysayers, she is political, and relevant, and lovely. She talks to our favorite Harry Potter actors, she supports them in their current day jobs (#HeForShe, anyone?), and she manages to get her point across to every single person who asks her a question. She also shuts down homophobia on Twitter and educates fans on equality on the regular.

2. Use your imagination.
That wizarding world that we all know and love and wish we were a part of? Do you ever stop and remind yourself that it was all born from one brilliant woman’s mind? It is incredible that Rowling created such an intricate and complete world that we all so easily relate to. Without Harry Potter, I know, genuinely, that my life would be different. Rowling’s imagination created something that saved my life, and this is why we should all follow our own creative minds. You never know who you might touch.

3. Exercise your creative rights.
Besides using your imagination (which is very important, of course), it is really vital that we exercise our rights to our own creative expression. Rowling created the world that we all fell in love with, which means she had every right to do whatever she wanted with it. Do I wish she had killed Fred? Absolutely, positively NOT. Do I think she knew what she was doing? Ughhhhh, I guess so. (It has taken me like…all of these years to say that.) The point is, your creations are yours, no matter how loved they are. Beyond that, Rowling made the creative decision to write under a pen-name when she published a non-Harry Potter book, something that was not only clever, but humble.

4. Be proud.
If there is one thing I have gathered from the kind of wisdom Rowling regularly drops on us, it is that she wishes everyone would be proud—of themselves, of what they believe in, of what they love. Being proud is one of the things that comes easiest to me (arguably, to a fault), but for those that need a bit of encouragement, I say, BE PROUD. It’s OK.

5. Have a sense of humor.
Okay, obviously if you have read Harry Potter, you know it is hilarious in all of the right places. Hermione and Ron’s bickering, interactions between professors and students, Mollywobbles, Fred and George in general—the woman has a sense of humor. Beyond that though, Rowling is a regular crack-up in interviews, on social media, and in general. Having a sense of humor gets you through the darkest days.

6. Be whoever you want to be.
I am not going to presume to know who Rowling finds herself in, character wise, but I have always seen a bit of Luna Lovegood shine through. In fact, maybe Luna Lovegood shines through in all of us, just a bit. Luna’s carefree attitude and ability to dismiss anyone saying anything negative about her is beyond admirable. Even if Rowling doesn’t relate to Luna, she wrote her, so there’s something there.

7. Rock bottom can be a lifesaver.

Like we see in many-a-movie, hitting your personal rock bottom can be kind of a blessing, albeit super, super in disguise. I have had plenty of times in my life where I thought things couldn’t get worse, and I was right! They got better! We all know Rowling’s story of living in poverty before she hit it big with Harry Potter. Coming from a very poor family, I have such love and respect for people who turn their bad situation into something incredible. Rowling is not only an example of this, but she is the example.

8. Do what you love.
Because maybe scribbling down the story of a boy wizard on a napkin doesn’t seem like the strongest money-making idea when you are in the midst of a terrible situation, but maybe it is. Rowling chased her dreams, she did (and does) what she loves, and it all worked out very well for her. When someone is telling you that you need to major in so-and-so instead of this-or-that, tell them to shove off (or something nicer). Do what you love, and you will love what you do. (Most of the time.)

9. We all have magic within us.

For all of us who waited for our letters when we turned 11, or when we turned 16, or when we turned 27…Rowling said we have magic in us, so it must be true. But honestly, on a good day, I am very well aware of the magic in the world. It’s in the little stuff–when you and your best friend text each other at the same time, when the leaves start turning colors after a particularly hot summer, when you meet a newborn baby for the first time, when you wake up refreshed before your alarm, when you laugh until your stomach hurts, when you have a particularly wonderful first kiss—it is all magic. It is always in us.

10. All is well.
The most wonderful last line there ever was. I remind myself so often that all is well, because, well, it usually is. Usually even on my worst of days, I remember this line and I feel it in the depths of my soul.

Thank you, Jo Rowling, for teaching me everything. Happy, happy birthday.

(Images via , , ,  and Shutterstock)

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