I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was eleven years old, and I spent the rest of my adolescence waiting for new books to come out so I could basically devour them whole. My dad likes to tell the story of how he bought me the Goblet of Fire; he bought it the day it came out and I disappeared for 24 hours the moment he handed it to me. When I emerged, he was surprised to hear that I had finished it already (I was twelve at the time). He quizzed me on it by flipping to random pages and asking me what came next: I could almost quote exactly from the page he was on.
At the time, I sorted myself into the house of my heroes: Gryffindor. Having adventures like Harry and Ron and being brave and bold certainly seemed like the ideal life. But, as I grew and more books came out and I learned more about myself, it became clear that Ravenclaw would have been a better fit. I treasured wit and learning and experimentation. I wanted more than anything to learn everything. I could never understand how Harry and Ron whined and moaned about doing their homework; I would have been more like Hermione, holed up in the library trying to learn everything I could about the new world I was in.
“What would Hermione do?” has become my mantra. The answer always seems pretty clear. She would collect knowledge like other people collect stamps or enamelware teapots. She would study late into the night and then wake up early for a good breakfast, and do her homework completely and thoroughly when it was assigned. Hermione would prepare well in advance for any challenges she might face, and stand up for and protect the rights of lower class citizens. She would be brave and strong and compassionate.
I’ve been asking myself that a lot recently. When I transferred back home to the University of West Florida; the move felt a lot like a last chance, so I poured all of my effort into being the best student, employee, and mother that I could possibly. Now I’m coming up on finals for my last semester of undergraduate work at the UWF, waiting to hear back from several really exciting prospective Research Assistant jobs at other institutions, and looking at putting my applications in at graduate schools. Obviously I’m procrastinating a bit right now (old habits die hard), but as a whole, I think it’s a good thing to ask myself in times of trouble. What would Hermione do?