Everyone knows how much I love Harry Potter…right? If you don’t, well, I love Harry Potter. I’ve read the books dozens of times, and I have made it a point to read them about every other year. 2017 is one of those years, and this July I’ve been revisiting the series very happily. Something about these books feel like coming home again, every time I read them. So here’s a short post today, just to share a couple quotes by Dumbledore, one from the first book and one from the last, that nicely encapsulate everything that Harry Potter has taught me in the past 16 years since I first read the books.
I don’t know why it took me so long to read JK Rowling’s 2008 commencement address at Harvard. Possibly because a printed, bound version of it was only recently published by Little, Brown in April 2015. I’d read snippets of it before, most notably this quote, “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.” But having recently been thinking a lot about failure, I stumbled upon the book on Amazon and decided to splurge $12 on it. It’s a life-changing little book.
The speech was titled by the publisher “Very Good Lives,” after JK Rowling’s parting wish for the students. The entire speech is colored by two themes, which is also the tagline: “The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.” By now, you probably know the “failure” part of Rowling’s personal saga. But her definition of “imagination” may surprise you. Jo (as she’s known to fans) isn’t referring to a person’s capacity to create Hogwartses, Middle-earths or Death Stars, but rather, imagination is the ability to “empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” She cites her time with Amnesty International and leaves the students with the wish that they will use their privileges, brainpower and clout to help others.
I adore Jo’s take on imagination, but it’s the rhetoric about failure that truly stuck with me. It’s a common feeling among twenty-somethings, especially in this current economy, to feel like failures for not having what everyone else has, or what everyone else is expected to have. The feeling like I’d failed at life has been plaguing me since graduation, because I feel like I’m not where my peers are. It was the fear of failure that gives me motivation to work and it was the fear of failure that was instrumental in beginning this blog. That fear of failure is both blessing as a motivator and a definite disadvantage—because I’ve come to realize that failure itself has its advantages. Its “fringe benefits.”
In the words of Jo, who, at twenty-eight, found herself divorced, a single mother, and “as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless,” failure taught her to strip away everything that was nonessential. Failing means you have nothing to be afraid of anymore. Failure means you’ve hit rock bottom, and have nowhere to go but up. Now, Jo truly had nowhere to go but up, but what about smaller failures, everyday roadblocks, and constant, continuously occurring setbacks? What about those?
For me at least, these small roadblocks have taught me that if nothing else, I may take pride in failing, because I have tried. And I’ll keep trying. This is my favorite quote from the speech, save perhaps for the magic one included above:
“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you have lived so cautiously that you may as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
Small failures have made me less afraid of life.
It’s been a couple weeks since I started writing for Rant Chic, and I wanted to share some of my favorite articles on here, and some reflections about my experience. I really like having the freedom to write about whatever I like, and since it’s a website specifically geared toward girls and women, the experience has taught me a lot about what I want to read about, versus topics that are stereotypically “girly.” Strangely enough, I haven’t written a lot about fashion; it’s been a lot of culture and more feminist-themed articles. I would definitely like to express my love for fashion and sense of style on the site, but in the meantime, I’m loving these culture articles! I also like the times when I can write about food and Friends.
Here are my favorite articles so far:
I love Lana, and I really wanted to explore my feelings toward her as a feminist.
I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the news, and think it’s a major coup for those who want more honesty in advertising!
I’ve spoke a little about my organic beauty tricks here, and I did a little research to uncover a lot more beauty methods! They’re pretty awesome.
I’ve been pretty annoyed lately by articles insisting JK Rowling stop writing for various reasons, and I completely disagree.
I loved Olivia Wilde’s September spread in Glamour, and thought about what it means for the so-called controversy of breastfeeding in public.
Let me know what you guys think!
This one really means a lot. When I started this blog I just wrote about the books I’d read. It was straightforward reviews and iPhone photos, and that was only ten months ago. Then I started asking my family to take some outfit shots, and started experimenting with fashion blogging. And now, almost a year after I began this blog, I feel like it has morphed into something I could never have imagined. This feels like my home, this little corner of the Internet world. The Sisterhood of the World awards mean a lot to me because I have striven to make this blog accessible to women like me: women who like reading, learning and teaching, who love fashion and beauty, who are struggling with life choices and dating, et cetera. So thank you! Thank you for reading, commenting and following.
Questions from Bold Beautiful Belle:
1. Favorite book series? Always Harry Potter.
2. Favorite restaurant? The Bronx Alehouse!
3. Favorite poem? The Lady of Shalott, Tennyson
4. Favorite flower? Lily of the valley
5. Favorite Disney princess? Ariel or Megara
6. Favorite way to spend Saturday night? Going out to the crappy bars in my area with my friends and cousins.
7. Favorite way to exercise? Aaahhh, I don’t exercise as much as I should but I do like taking long walks.
8. Favorite accessory? Rings.
9. Favorite place in the world? This is so hard. Maybe Italy, maybe a cabin in Alaska, maybe a bookstore in Peekskill. Maybe my own bed 😉
10. Would you rather DIY or buy from a store? Depends on my mood. Sometimes I love to be creative and save money and make something, at others I would rather shell out half my savings to buy something ready made!
Questions from The North Star:
1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Probably the ability to change my appearance at will, like Tonks in Harry Potter. It means I’ll never have to fiddle with a curling iron ever again! Makes life easier.
2. Who is your favourite Disney character and why? It’s a toss-up between Ariel, Megara, and Aladdin.
3. What is your favourite color? Red! I love its boldness.
4. Who is the person who has inspired you the most? JK Rowling and my father.
5. What is your favourite number? (Most people I know have never thought of an answer to this question) 716 is my lucky number.
6. When was the last time you did something really spontaneous? Oooh, that’s a bad one. Probably some drunken escapade.
7. Do you like roller coasters that go upside down? Naaaah.
8. What time of year do you like the most and why? Spring. I love the colors of the flowers and the smell of the air.
9. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go? Italy, to see my family, or India.
10. What is/was your favourite subject at school and has/had this always been your favourite or did you love something new every year? I always loved English/Literature and obviously still do.
Here are my own nominations for this illustrious award:
And my questions:
1. What time period would you go to if you could time travel?
2. Do you watch TV or read at night?
3. What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
4. What is your least favorite social media account?
5. Did your blogging dreams live up to reality?
6. What did you want to be when you were younger?
7. What’s the beauty item you could never live without?
8. Are you iPhone or Android?
9. What are you looking forward to most in the near future?
10. What is your drink of choice?