Maria Kennedy
August 23, 2015 5:52 am

When I was in the sixth grade, JK Rowling did a book signing at the bookstore in the small Chicago suburb I grew up in. People came from all over. My mother waited in a long line for me while I was at school to get me a ticket. When I finally walked over, there were news trucks on the street. There were people dressed in costumes.

When my group was called to go in for the signing, I stared at JK Rowling with my mouth partially open. I wanted to tell her that I was a writer too and exactly like Hermione Granger, but there wasn’t time to say anything besides “hello” and even that was overwhelming for me. I hung around for a long time afterwards, excited off the high of getting my book signed by JK Rowling.

This book signing took place shortly after the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner Azkaban. I stayed up all night reading that book so that I’d be the first person in my class to finish it. I wanted nothing more than to get completely lost in those books.

Sometimes I feel as if it is ridiculous to love something as a fan and to be preoccupied with the lives of fictional characters, but then I stop myself. Being a fangirl is about so much more than just obsessing over a book, or a movie or a comic (though it is that too).  I strongly believe that every great work of fiction lives beyond the page, and it’s not only the creator but the fans that help bring something invented to life. Because of this, there is something wonderful and even powerful about truly loving a fictional world. Here’s how being a Harry Potter fangirl has enriched my life…

It created a whole new world for me.

There is something amazing about being caught up in a world that someone else has created. The details of Harry Potter are amazing. From the excitement of Quidditch, the horror of life on Privet Drive to Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, there is so much to marvel over! The world of Harry Potter is also incredibly grounded in reality, in that the characters and details of adolescence are so true to real life. This combination of the real and the fantastic is fascinating.

Other fan girls are the best.

Connecting with someone over a mutually loved book is an amazing feeling. When I first read Harry Potter, I felt that the character of Hermione Granger was written for me specifically. She was my role model. Hermione made me feel like it was cool to get good grades and raise my hand in class. This guy in my class one time told me that I was like Hermione and I got really excited, even though he meant it as an insult.

This feeling that Hermione was written for me specifically, I’ve come to realize is common. As ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve befriended other woman based on a shared admiration for Hermione Granger. Bonding with somebody over something as small as a shared admiration for a fictional character is simply a wonderful way to connect.

It made me feel passionate and that’s never a bad thing.

Anything that gets you excited and helps you to see the good in humanity or the power of love is spectacular! The world of Harry Potter is completely rooted in love. It is after all, Harry’s mother’s love for him that saves him in the first book. The idea of love being able to save us is empowering. And even if it is disappointing that I never received a letter from Hogwarts, I’ve managed to take my passion and excitement and channel it into other aspects of my life.

(Image via Warner Bros)

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