Harry Potter Changed My Life: A List

Jennifer Dorsey
Jun 26, 2017 · 3 min read

Harry Potter is, yet again, the biggest story on social media. This time it’s because the series has turned twenty. That mindboggling fact had me thinking about how big of an impact getting assigned that book in my 5th grade reading class had on me. 20 years later I am a different person than I would have been otherwise, no questions asked.

So in honor of #HarryPotter20, I’ve compiled 20 thoughts on major memories associated with the series, my relationship to it, and, in many ways, how it shaped me.

One of many trips to Diagon Alley at Universal Studios.
  1. The books came out when I was 9 and I started reading them when I was 10. I quite literally grew up with and came of age with the series.
  2. I was the same age as the characters at several points in time.
  3. I related so heavily to Hermione Granger that having the books to turn to as a solace was a big factor in helping me cope with bullying, particularly because of my obsession for books, grades, bushy brown hair, and giving the right answer in class.
  4. I have read the series in its entirety 9 times and am planning to do a 10th. Some of the books, such as PoA, I’ve read even more.
  5. I went to midnight release parties for books 5–7, the last one in Times Square.
  6. I saw movies 3–7 at midnight.
  7. I saw movie 8 in Orlando with some of the biggest HP nerds out there and it was the best.
  8. Speaking of those nerds, that release was also my first LeakyCon and my first con experience. I have been to 11 cons since, both Harry Potter related and others. (And that’s not exactly a high number among people I know)
  9. I went to LeakyCon because I had a few months earlier started volunteering for an organization called The Harry Potter Alliance, a non-profit that makes activism accessible through stories, especially Harry Potter.
  10. I created the first communications team for the HPA and with that learned a lot about doing this work for new, young non-profits.
  11. I made so many new, close friends through that experience, several of whom I am still close with today.
  12. I helped to put together and market the book Dear Mr. Potter, in which I wrote a letter to Hermione telling her how much she means to me as a character.
  13. My time at the HPA eventually lead me to apply to write at GeekyNews, a nerdy fan news site. I wrote for them for several years and developed close friendships.
  14. The HPA also helped me to discover the Vlogbrothers and Nerdfighteria, communities that are crucial to the work I do with Uplift.
  15. I wrote my first novel, something I never would have envisioned myself doing if it weren’t for LitTrack at LeakyCon and the writing friends I made in the community.
  16. I have visited the Harry Potter park at Universal 4 times. It never gets old. I always get a little emotional.
  17. My Harry Potter fandom family and the encouragement I got from them was the final impetus I needed to come out publicly as bi-sexual. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.
  18. My experience at the Harry Potter Alliance was part of the reason that I helped to found and still help run Uplift - Online Communities Against Sexual Violence.
  19. My relationship with my house (definitively Gryffindor) helped me through some of the worst times in my life health-wise.
  20. While I have moved on from some parts of my fandom life, others are alive and well and I know it will continue to shape me for years and years to come.

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