J.K. Rowling is such an inspiration for me. I jumped on the chance to read Very Good Lives, a commencement speech that Rowling gave at Harvard in 2008. It is beautifully illustrated and so inspiring. Her words of wisdom are touching and motivating as she gives advice to graduates, but also to other people such as myself by publishing it. I am also so grateful that proceeds from the book will be given to Lumos, a charity founded by JK Rowling that seeks to end the institutionalization of children.
As someone who lives with anxiety, I fear failure, I worry endlessly about failure, I worry about not being able to control over everything in my life. These two quotes speak volumes to me about how, really, those things are totally ok.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at al – in which case, you fail by default.” – JK Rowling, Very Good Lives (pg. 34)
“Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.” – JK Rowling, Very Good Lives (pg. 39)
I don’t think anxiety will ever stop being a part of my life. It’s just something that I will always have to live with. Anyone else who has feared failure, experienced anxiety, and experienced failure will hopefully be inspired by her words – the full text has the entire moving speech though so I recommend that.
“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – JK Rowling, Very Good Lives (pg. 67)
The Harry Potter Alliance uses themes from the Harry Potter series to make a difference in the world. We learned that we don’t need magic to fight real life horcruxes (slavery, poverty, bullying…). I could also speak at length about privilege; privilege is not a bad thing when a person is aware of their privilege and can imagine and empathize with the realities of others. Look at JK Rowling herself when she lost her billionaire status because she was giving so much to charity. I don’t really see being obscenely wealthy as a point of pride, whereas I see being unbelievably generous as a point of pride and I admire her endlessly for being such a giving, incredibly women. Even if we are not wealthy beyond imagination, think of what we can do with the things we have – our education, our art, our ability to write, or what ever other skills we have – to make a difference and to change things in the world.
Needless to say, JK Rowling’s speech touched me, and I would recommend it to anyone who need to be inspired.