We all have standard New Year’s resolution go-to options, such as going to the gym more or spending less money. But perhaps this year you could try something more creative – and let’s face it, a bit more fun. In Goblet of Fire, Hermione became a full-on activist for the plight of house-elf rights, after discovering that house-elves slaved away in the Hogwarts kitchens without receiving any form of payment.
Although Harry and Ron may have scoffed at Hermione’s chosen acronym for her new project – S.P.E.W., the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare – it was very inspirational of Hermione to try to give something back to the community. She even picked up a new hobby out of it: knitting, trying desperately to set the Hogwarts house-elves free by knitting them little hats and scarves to give as clothing. Ultimately, it just freaked them all out, but Hermione meant well, really.
Inspired by Hermione starting her own society, maybe you could find something you are passionate about, and get creative too. We’re not saying you have to learn to knit tiny, tiny hats (although if you want to do that, go for it! The world needs more tiny, tiny hats!) but having your own self-appointed task you can put yourself into is a great way of learning a new skill, or even helping out the world a little bit. Be it activism like Hermione, or just anything that’s a bit innovative, make your mark in your own little way.
Alright, so we don’t have the problem of Lord Voldemort knocking about, so we wouldn’t need to join a club specifically like Dumbledore’s Army, learning defensive spells and what-have-you. But any sort of club is a great way of meeting people, as well as taking in a bit of self-improvement. Just look at Harry: by instigating Dumbledore’s Army (well, it was Hermione really, but anyway…) he got to know Cho Chang better. A lot better. Yeah, it didn’t end well, but the point is that Harry actually got to hang out with people from the other Hogwarts houses for once.
The same goes for you: joining a club may put you in a situation a bit outside of your comfort zone, but you might get some new mates out of it – or even more. Who knows? The whole point of joining a club is to pick up a new skill or learn about something new – such as discovering a new book in a book club, learning to act in an amateur dramatics society, or smoothing out a lovely vase in a pottery class (shame it’s not a Harry Potter-y class, but there you go). Whatever it is, you’re sure to get something really useful out of the experience. Just look how Neville benefited from joining Dumbledore’s Army – he became a much more skilful wizard thanks to the encouragement of his friends, something he struggled with on his own. If you’re muddling through something, best to muddle through it with a bunch of other confused people for moral support.
Ever said ‘no’ to something a bit too quickly? Or held back on doing something different, just because you’ve got used to living life a certain way? Or maybe you’ve just got a bit set in your ways and don’t want to do anything a bit daunting. This happened to Lupin: he let his werewolf status hinder him and led a relatively quiet life. Just think of when he resigned his post as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher when the word got out about his ‘furry little problem’ – nobody fired him, but Lupin preferred to step into the shadows because he was scared of the reaction. He also put off having a relationship with Tonks, even though he liked her, and she liked him – saying Tonks deserved someone ‘young and whole’; in other words, someone who wasn’t a werewolf.
Eventually, after a lot of goading from his friends, Lupin finally entered into a relationship with Tonks. And although his anxiety about being a werewolf never really went away, he did something new that scared him – he let someone else into his life. Remember that if you feel that anything is holding you back, it shouldn’t put you off living your life to the fullest. Take your insecurities and try and own them. We’re not saying you have to go skydiving or anything, but don’t hesitate to do something that could, ultimately, make you happier, like Lupin almost did.
Self-confidence is hard to come by, sometimes. It’s not like you can pick it up from the local shop. But with time and a little bit of conviction, you really can become a more self-assured person – and other people will notice too. Ginny was a good example of this: in the first few books, she was portrayed as a blushing young girl grappling with a huge crush on Harry. It didn’t help that she was possessed by Lord Voldemort in her first year of Hogwarts either – as if pre-teens didn’t have enough problems.
But as the terms wore on, especially in Ginny’s third year, she began to really blossom as a person, integrating herself more in Harry’s friendship group, developing a killer sense of humour, a deeper inner strength, and a sterling talent for Bat-Bogey Hexes. She also didn’t follow the crowd, such as when she refused to take no for an answer when it came to joining Harry for a showdown at the Ministry of Magic at the end of Order of the Phoenix. And after Hermione gave Ginny some advice to start going out with other boys rather than waiting for Harry, Ginny decided to focus on doing nice things for herself, rather than pining for others. Conveniently, the second Ginny found her self-confidence, Harry started fancying her. Oh, boys.
Anyway, Ginny’s growth taught us that no matter what people’s perception of you might be, you are the only person who truly knows yourself, and your own potential. Take a leaf out of Ginny’s book and learn to focus on your own personal story, not other people’s.
Oh fine, we’re just kidding. But boy, what a way to start a year, right?