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The Middle-Aged Wizard

Why I Want to be an English Teacher

My aunt tells me I was born thirty-five and get more middle-aged every year. I used to resent this, but I’ve grown to accept it as an undeniable truth of my life. I am, perpetually, a grumpy old man. Not in a quirky, funny sort of way either. More so in the literal sense. I’m always losing my keys. I think that eight is way too late to eat dinner. I get weird back pains. I like to be in bed by ten or I get cranky. Let me explain more clearly; I do not relate well to people my age. Inherent responsibility and a strict moral code do not give off the impression that I’m fun to be around. It doesn’t help that I have a look about me that makes it seem like I’m always being sarcastic. Due to this curse of maturity, I directed my focus toward the future at a very young age. As if the moment I turn forty my mind and body will finally align, and I’ll be comfortable in my skin. It doesn’t work that way, though, and thinking about the future all the time is taxing on a young person. In order to cope with the grumpy old man constantly nudging me with his cane, I carve out moments in my reasonably managed daily schedule for my inner child, moments when I give myself permission to act my age, or even younger. It just so happens that these moments usually involve reading Harry Potter.

Picture it. Fifth grade, I’m a chubby ten-year old with no social skills. Riley McAnonymous poked my plump little belly and laughed. That was the moment I realized appearances mattered to some people, and while Riley McAnonymous probably doesn’t remember that ever happening, it left enough of an impact on me to end up in my personal narrative some seven odd years later. That was also the year that I read the Harry Potter series. While books never held much interest to me prior, Harry Potter introduced me to a genre of excitement and magic, a place where kids who get their tummies poked, like Neville Longbottom, had the ability to make their bullies vomit slugs.

When I was playing softball at age fourteen, and two of my girlfriends quit because they were afraid of becoming too muscular. I remember thinking it was so dumb. Ginny Weasley was a weapon on the Quidditch pitch, outranking all her male counterparts, and it was really empowering. It didn’t make sense to me that being strong and capable was something they didn’t want, and it didn’t make sense to them that I thought their decision was immature and superficial. I forced them to watch The Half-Blood Prince, in an attempt to make them understand, but my efforts went unappreciated. How does a silly movie with people on brooms chasing flying balls have any relation to their dilemma, anyways? Ginny Weasley didn’t even have a boyfriend, and of course that’s all that matters in life.

At the age of seventeen, I learned that an excessively sarcastic nature and unbridled bluntness often earned me the title of “bossy.” Now, I admire Hermione Granger as much as the next so-called "feminazi." However, realizing that people viewed my inclination to be introspective as a superiority complex was not flattering. Suddenly, my passion was aggressive. My advanced vernacular was no longer impressive, but pretentious. My openness to discussion on human rights dubbed me a girl with strong opinions, and for a lot of people this was an unattractive quality. No one really wants to be a Hermione Granger when they’re in high school. It wards off friends, boys, and the unconstrained freedom of youth.

I’ll admit, I take things too seriously sometimes. Here I am, whining about being too educated and responsible; as if this makes me a victim of something. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to be given a formal, free education that has led me to form strong opinions. I am lucky that I live a lifestyle where I can scroll through my phone and laugh at a Harry Potter meme and send it to Catherine. I am lucky that this series has created a vast fandom that connects me with people all over the world. Sure, we’re connecting over dumb things, like Draco Malfoy’s Instagram aesthetic, but we’re forming connections. That’s something that doesn’t come easily to middle-aged kids, and trust me, I’m not the only child born with this affliction. We’re out there, in the Harry Potter* group chats, creating gorgeous artworks, hilarious memes, and publishing novel length fan-fictions, some of which are better than the books themselves. The internet brought us together, and in this way, it is the internet that helped us realize, develop, and encourage the gifts we have and the gifts we want to pursue. The gifts that help us through the truly difficult times of our lives.

In the truly difficult times of my life, I have not turned to Harry Potter. I turned to the foundation the series created for me. Since the fifth grade, written word has been my magic wand, the tool I use to convey my strength and ingenuity. Journaling, reading, writing short stories, and poetry. No matter how poorly written, taking pen to pad moved mountains for me. Forming words into an eloquent sequence seemed to pull boulders from my chest. I am well aware that not every chubby ten-year old’s passion is literature. For some, though, it will be. I cannot wait to meet those kids. Whether they be tortured artists, or book nerds, or grumpy old men whose passion lies dormant and unnoticed. I want to show those people how rewarding using your words can be. It can also be difficult. And disappointing. And boring. More importantly, it can be the only thing that makes any sense. I guess that’s why I want to be an English teacher.

Hopefully it’ll keep me young.

*Harry Potter is interchangeable with the following: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Star Trek, Twilight.

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