I sat under my blanket late at night on my bed nearly six years old with a flashlight to read through the entire Harry Potter series. My days were spent hiding and to read the story of a boy that grew up under the stairs, I felt a connection. As a young girl of a depressed mother and an alcoholic stepfather, books were my escape into a new world. I would wake up in the morning never having enough time to get ready for school, even at six years old. I would make breakfast for my sister and take the bottle out of the fridge for my baby brother. My mother would already be passed out on the couch and my stepfather would be stumbling out to work.
When I got home from school I did everything I could to keep everything out of his way, to let my mother sleep. I picked up the beer cans and I kept my siblings out of trouble. I snuck to my grandmother's house two houses down every chance that I could to grab a book. I spent my nights in world that weren't my own. Worlds that didn't cause bruises and worlds that weren't littered with beer cans. I longed to enter those world myself. I begged to walk through my closet and wind up in Narnia or go on adventures with Nancy Drew or Pippy Longstocking and then I found Harry Potter And the Sorcerer's Stone.
My grandmother was shocked when I read the first book in under a week. She kept asking me questions to make sure that I had actually read the entire thing. I felt a kinship to Harry that I had never felt before. He grew up in a house doing so much for others, feeling like he never really belonged until the birthday when the letters started to arrive. He was taken away from his chance to escape and Hagrid still found him. He found a place that he felt at home. He found a home at Hogwarts and at the Weasleys. He found people that loved him and made him feel safe again.
I longed for that kind of escape. The idea of escaping to a place like Hogwarts, any place that made me feel some kind of magic on my darkest days. In the hardest moments of my life, when I was having my head pressed against the floor taking the punishment yet again for one of the other kids, I closed my eyes and thought of a wizarding world far away.
Today, I am thirty years old and on my hardest days, I still find myself thinking back to the days of hope found in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The reason that the wizarding world of Harry Potter is the best fandom is because it gives people hope. It tells the little girl hiding under the covers, that there is a better life out there and magic that she can find in any circumstance. Harry teaches us that. Ron teaches us that no matter the circumstances that you come from, with the help of amazing friends you can accomplish an incredible life. Hermione teaches us that you can be a strong and intelligent female without having to hide who we are to get what we want in life.
Sirius Black taught us the importance of family even while overcoming our own life. Professor Trelawney taught us to hold our weird and use it to better the lives of others. McGonagall taught us to give kindly and make everyone in our lives feel welcome. Dobby taught us to serve others in order to find our own freedom. Dumbledore taught us that even in the darkest of times, we can find hope, if only we choose to turn on the light.