Hello! If you're reading this, you're probably wondering who the hell I am. If you still haven't figured it out, this is TLB. I wanted to make a post explaining why I decided to change my display name.
It goes without saying at this point that I'm a Harry Potter fanatic (and I apologize for not shutting up about it sometimes). I've lived and breathed this magical world every day for well over a decade, and it's such an enormous part of my identity. It has shaped and influenced me in so many ways: it was there for me when I had no one, it has helped me through some of the most difficult periods of my life, it taught me important lessons of bravery and friendship, and it is where I picked up my passions for learning and social progress. But most of all, it introduced me to my greatest hero...
When I was little, I never really fit in with the other kids. Most of the girls were into things like dolls and fashion, and most of the guys liked sports, cars, and video games. I forced myself to like all of these subjects, but ultimately none interested me in the slightest. I vividly remember my best friend's birthday party when we were about seven years old. While everyone else was playing baseball in the backyard, I sat on the deck alone reading a book. This seemed to happen everywhere we went, and my parents were worried that I was "unfriendly," "reclusive," "avoidant," and, worst of all, "antisocial." They made me leave my books in the car whenever we went out in public so I wouldn't "ignore" people, but I wasn't doing it on purpose: I was just so engrossed in my book that I would simply forget they were there at all.
At school my hand was always the first in the air, and oftentimes the only. Part of it was definitely me showing off how much I knew, but mostly I was genuinely excited to interact with the teacher and learn. Spelling tests were my favorite part of the week, and my classmates thought I was crazy for it. They branded me a know-it-all, a goody two-shoes, a teacher's pet, and a nerd, and even though I told myself that they were just jealous, it really hurt deep down.
That all changed the day I saw this book at Borders:
I devoured it in a couple of days. I fell in love with the plot, the setting, and the dialogue, but most of all, Hermione Granger.
She loved to read, she stayed out of trouble, she put immense pressure on herself to be the best, she had a strong sense of justice, she didn't give a rat's ass about beauty or popularity, was annoyingly matter-of-fact at times, and she was also picked on for having all of these qualities. She was literally me.
The one difference between us, though, was that Hermione was a boss. She saved the day even more than Harry, and she didn't have to be a celebrity or attractive or good at sports. All she needed to do was hit up the library and study.
With each Harry Potter book I read, my own confidence grew stronger. Hermione made me realize that I was just as cool as she was. I didn't have to dumb myself down in order for people to like me, the people who made fun of me would be taking my order at Subway someday anyway, and I didn't need to choose between beauty or brains, because brains are beauty.
I grew up with her, and along the way we both learned some of the same lessons together: not to worry so much, sometimes breaking the rules is necessary in order to do the right thing, and standing up for the little guy is always worth it even when people tell you you're being a bleeding heart or a social justice warrior. I fangirled for her whenever she had an awesome moment, and I rooted for her to do well on her OWLs and win Ron's heart. I hated Draco Malfoy with a passion for bullying her, I cried when she got tortured in the last book, and I sighed a huge breath of relief when she got a happy ending.
Eventually, kids at school starting calling me "Hermione" when I raised my hand and got an answer right. They were probably doing it to hurt my feelings, but it made me proud.
Even though Hermione is fictional, she still feels like my guardian angel. I have posters of her in my room, and I often think about what she would do in tough situations. If she were real, we would probably be best friends. I have to be honest, I totally daydream about hanging out with her sometimes and talking about books and politics. People still regularly tell me that I remind them of her, and I think it's the biggest compliment in the whole world.