How to Cope When You Realize There's No Career Path to Being Harry Potter

August 6, 2015


I often have thoughts of picking up and changing scenes. Not just any small change, like writing in Starbucks instead of slouched on my couch with my laptop perched atop my belly like a parrot, getting hotter and hotter until I myself cannot take the discomfort, but something on the more decadent dessert menu of scenery, like a small German village or Argentina - someplace that would stimulate new thoughts and sensory experiences - where the siren call of the Rumtrüffel sails through its freshly discovered wonderland of neural pathways. If my brain were a map, a portion of it would surely be named after its delectably daring founder: Schnitzel the Explorer.

Apparently I'm mostly interested in eating. Anyway, my point is that I would simply be going for experience now. It used to be the case, however, that I would bring it up occasionally as some sort of fodder against my despair in how underwhelming I felt my short existence had become. My dissatisfaction manifested itself in empty threats of abandoning it all.

"Wherever you go, you take yourself with you." - Neil Gaiman, The GraveYard Book

Of course, anywhere you go you will have the same thoughts as ever. At 26, my existence was shaken up and, as it settled, the good part was that it put my perspective back into a much more suitable place. I must have aged a lot in the process. I think perhaps what the presidency does to a person, my 26th year did to me, only without the prestige. In any case, I came out of it all with the realization that my thoughts make my life no matter who is with me, so I'd better get on the good foot and at least try to make something wonderful.

I just got back from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (damn damn damnitall). Let the difficulty of returning from HOGWARTS take your breath away. Go ahead.

If I could cry, it would feel like this.

Surrounding the trip, I worried about several things. I couldn't help but drift from the talking paintings in Hogwarts to my waterfall of concerns. I would soon be making big changes and the negativity/anxiety was a bummer.

All this to say that I was sad to leave the park. Sad to face the troubles I know will seem so small on my death bed. Sad to wander aimlessly through the cloud of inspiration I gathered from the park but cannot grab on to. This is a problem, so surely it can be fixed. I have a career game changer on the horizon, after all.

I have been feeling an absence of creatvity in something analogous to the Louisiana Purchase of brain real estate: TV and distractions got a great deal on some primo land that was once pioneered by the likes of Captain Wordsmith and Colonel Christopher Craftypants. And yet it seems that, for me, visiting Harry Potter has undone that change of hands and halted the TV-led homogenization that was underway, essentially sending my brain's creative space back to a time before established colonies and I'm OK with that.

I won't reveal details of the park, except to say that it was truly a little heartbreaking to leave. My boyfriend and I each got a beer from Diagon Alley in that last hour to soften the exit. Say what you will about theme parks, but it is amazing to walk amongst such fantastic creations and almost become them.

How can I act on this imparted energy back here in reluctant reality when there is no career path towards being Harry Potter? How do I enjoy myself more if moving away or becoming a fictional wizard are not viable options in shaping my life? WELL IT'S ALL I WANT AND I CAN'T AND IT ISN'T FAIR!

Pardon that. I think adults seem to lose enthusiasm the older they get, in part, because they lose faith in imagination. Disappointments chip away. TV becomes comfort. Yet how much better is responsibility when playfulness is added to the mix? JK Rowling was suffering from suicidal depression when she found her escape in creating Harry. Walt Disney was broke for years and years because he poured all his profits into new projects. If you lose yourself in your passions, reality doesn't seem so harsh and, if you've felt failure, what do you have left to fear in pursuing them?

For me, all I can envision in bringing this to fruition for myself is to continue doing what I've ever done to bring a bit of fantasy into my reality - write music, write anything, and follow curiosity. I hope it will evolve, but great ideas or passions are not something you can decide to have. You have to lead yourself into that a-ha moment. Be aware, be immersed, and something will inevitably come of it.

My job in the months to come is to focus on my interests, learn from my failures, and continue planting the seeds that will grow into whomever I might develop into - someone who will undoubtedly prove to be an exquisite travel partner if I ever find myself completely alone across the world some day.

Here, for the enjoyment of all, is a magnificent speech by her majesty, reigning queen of my adult imagination, Ms. JK Rowling:

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required