The Boggart in the Wardrobe (PoA 7)

Failing.

Being Selfish.

Not Being a Good Person.

These are my top three fears in life. Sure I have other fears like bugs and such, but these three are the fears that leave me paralyzed. These are the fears that trigger my anxiety in stressful situations. These BIG THREE are the fears that haunt my dreams at night.

Today’s chapter of Harry Potter is perfect when reading through the lens of fear. The chapter begins with the return of an injured (if we must) Draco who milks his injury throughout all of Potions in order to get Ron and Harry to have to cut up and ready his ingredients. While Professor Snape ensures Potter and Weasley are cutting up Draco’s potion parts correctly, he also makes time to harass Neville. When Neville’s potion is orange instead of green, Snape uses fear tactics to try and motivate Neville (threatening Neville’s frog who will have to drink the potion at the end of class). Hermione helps Neville and the frog survives but Gryffindor loses points because of it.  When they get to Defense of the Dark Arts, Lupin takes them on a field trip to the staffroom to face a boggart, a shape-shifting creature that turns into your biggest fear. Neville is up first, disclosing that his biggest fear is professor snare. Lupin encourages Neville to imagine his grandmother’s clothing and once the boggarts turns into Snape to cast the spell and watch Snape be dressed in that clothing. Everyone gets chance to face their fear except Harry. When Harry is up to bat, Lupin intervenes and then let’s Neville finish the boggart off, ending class.

30c3d360-c2fb-0133-bf4e-0e694d25c22dWhat’s interesting about this chapter is that Neville faces his fears at least twice and each time he has a little help. The first is in Potions class when Snape is threatening to poison his frog. Hermione intervenes whispering how to fix Neville’s potion. The second time in with the boggart and Lupin walks Neville through how to go about facing that fear. He never truly has to face a fear alone.  On the flip side Harry is never given the chance to face his own fear. Better yet he sits alone with it letting one fear grow from another. We later find out why Professor Lupin lets this happen, but in the moment for Harry leaves class feeling weak.

There have been a lot of moments in my life where I have let my BIG THREE take over and consume my thoughts. I put off law school for five years because of those fears. I would reach out to friends or to family for help, but they couldn’t help and instead I would just sit there letting the fear of  being selfish evolve into not being a good person and that evolve into being a failure. A lot of times I didn’t know how to get out of the cycle of anxious thoughts wrapping themselves around these fears and letting my mind spiral into a frenzy of what-ifs. Then one day a friend did help and gave me the phone number of a therapist that was trained to help people work through those fears and anxiety.

Facing fears is not an easy thing. Sometimes you need help and sometimes you have to pick yourself up and take control back over those fears. Neville got help in facing his fears and then when he finished off the boggart (his second turn) he didn’t need anyone to walk him through it, he just got up and did it. Its not always easy to do, but once you start to face your fears and find ways to manage your fears and really just decide to take back the responsibility of your life from those fears you do become a lot stronger. Going to Italy, Finishing 1L year, facing my grades from first semester, moving to a new city full of strangers… those were all moments where I had to face fears. Better yet, I’m still facing fears by starting new jobs, wading through my insecurities about being too selfish when I do things for myself or tell people no, and by going into my 2L year. snape-as-a-boggart

The key to facing your fears is getting help when you can and then pushing forward on your own. It may not always seem like it, but you can find help everywhere, you just have to be open to it. Keep facing those fears and don’t let them dictate your life.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed.

 

 

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Talons and Tea Leaves (PoA 6)

Being in a foreign country is amazing. From the sights to the food to the immense challenges of having to learn a whole new place, being away from home opens you up to brand new experiences left and right. While there are many similarities in each culture, there are vast differences that sometimes make you uncomfortable (both in good ways and in bad ways). The key to dealing with being uncomfortable is watching how you react.

A_real_life_Hippogriff_from_Harry_Potter_exists_in_UgandaIn this chapter it’s the first day of school. Harry’s third year classes begin with Divination, a strange class in a strange part of the castle. The students embark on a journey of tea leaves and fortune telling. For some this is very intriguing and real, for others its very “fake news” like. By the end of class Hermione is angry (not believing in any of this nonsense) and Harry is told he will die. The students head to Transfiguration, where Professor McGonagall weighs in on the subject of Harry’s predicted demise and divination as a whole, having very similar thoughts to Hermione’s. The class ends and Ron calls Hermione out on not liking Divination just because she isn’t good at it. After lunch they head down to the forest to meet Hagrid. It’s Hagrid’s first day teaching and he brings out Hippogriffs. Hagrid explains to the class that Hippogriffs are very proud creatures and not to insult them. Harry volunteers to try and gain the Hippogriffs trust and manages to ride the creature for a little while. Soon after every students is given the chance to subdue these creatures and everything goes well until Draco manages to insult one and is attacked. Draco ends up in the hospital wing with some cuts and Hagrid ends up drowning his sorrows and anxiety of being fired with some alcohol.

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The Italian Supreme Court 

Two of my favorite new experiences on my study abroad trip were learning about Italian Criminal Law and taking a tour of the Juvenile Dentition center in Naples. Much like the Hogwarts students, these experiences were different and a bit uncomfortable. Learning from teachers who spoke Italian as their first language and english as their second language made class difficult to understand at times. Many students in my class were completely appalled at the idea of lecturing from power points (which with jet lag and little sleep could be hard to follow along with). Everything was new and different.

We learned the key difference between American Criminal law and Italian criminal law was the end goal. In America punishment is the key. You did something wrong and now you must pay. Whereas in Italy rehabilitation is the key. You did something wrong, we can work together to fix it and give you a new hope in society. Then when we took time to go and tour the juvenile detention center we saw this concept in action.

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View from the top of the Constitutional Court in Rome 

I’ve been to a similar center here in Colorado as part of my American Criminal Law class.  The detention center here was like any other prison. The kids wore uniforms and didn’t have many freedoms. There were opportunities to learn trade skills, but the real goal was for the kids to do their time and learn that what they did was wrong. In the Italian deletion center, the kids wore regular clothes, smoked cigarettes, played basketball and gardened. They had to chose a trade to learn (ceramics, pizza making, baking, nativity scene making, etc.). The goal was to get these kids a second chance when they left.

While the two systems are somewhat alike, the way the kids seem to be treated are very different (from what I’ve experienced). The kids in Italy didn’t seem to be treated like prisoners, but like kids who needed guidance. The directors of the detention center spoke of the children as if they were misled by the greater society and no one else. There was a caring aspect to the directors, a sense that these kids needed their help because maybe their parents weren’t around and their only role models were those already doing criminal acts. In America it feels as if troubled youths are treated as and told that they are just bad people who need to figure out right from wrong and quickly.

As we left either class or the detention center, it was interesting to watch the discussion grow from our experiences. Some were uncomfortable with what they saw, mainly how the directors interacted with the youths and how no one (directors included) wore uniforms. Others seemed to be hit with compassion, and even further, others seemed to not care at all. Those who were uncomfortable with their experiences in Italian Criminal Law were usually much like Hermione or Professor McGonagall or even Draco: they made sure people knew where they stood on the matter. They felt uncomfortable and needed other to know about it. It’s something we all do. When we feel out of sorts we either cope by trying to find like-minded individuals or we ignore how we feel entirely and move on. Rarely do we sit down and try to pinpoint what makes us uncomfortable, where those feelings come from and how to process them next.

This is a key part of being a lawyer though. We have to find a way to look at every side of an issue. We have to be able to rationally look at something, push away our feelings and see every side. Now that’s not to say we can’t have feelings about things. Our gut-feelings are the most important part of intuition and doing what we deem is right, but being able to step out of yourself and see the other side, engage with another part of society or set of ideals… that’s what’s really important. While the Italian goal of rehabilitation seems outlandish against the ideas of American Punishment, I think there are some good facets of believing in the good of others and trying to help them see that good and make it blossom.

Seeing through the eyes of another, being immersed in the culture of another is hard. We are all hardwired to be prideful and ask for others to bow down to our ideals first before we will even consider their ideals (much like a hippogriff) and the second someone insults our ideals, we attack and leave a trail of hurt behind us. It’s not easy to set down that pride and let yourself see another way of doing things, but it’s important in law school and in law. Compassion for others is hard, but it is quintessential and all it takes is seeing the world the way they see it.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

PS: I don’t have any pictures of the dentition center in Naples because they took our phones before going in.

The Dementor (PoA 5)

It’s been quiet around here for the last month. It was hard to find time in Italy to sit and write, and can you blame me?? I’ll share some pictures throughout the next few posts! What an amazing trip, with amazing people, in an amazing place.

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The beach near school at sunset

For those of you who don’t know why I was in Italy, I went on a study abroad trip (yes, those exist in law school). We were in Sorrento, Italy, a beautiful coastal town in southern Italy. During the day (M-Th) we attended classes, which included Comparative Corporate Governance, Intro to Italian Law, Comparative Competition Law, and Comparative Drug Policy. Each class had a different interesting aspect, many times in ways I never thought I would find interesting. Two of the classes were taught by Italian professors while the other two were DU professors. Outside of class we were free to explore, travel, and eat A LOT of pasta and pizza.

Now you can see why I didn’t have much time to blog while I was away. Now, I’m back and ready to make up for lost weeks and posts (we still have to make it through another 4.5 books!).

This chapter is aptly named Dementors. We find the Golden Trio on their journey back to Hogwarts. Harry, who overheard a conversation about Sirius Black coming for him, can’t wait to tell Hermione and Ron what is happening. They pick a room on the train to talk (Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher sleeping in the corner of this train compartment) and Harry tells his friends everything he’s heard. A bit into their journey the train stops, which they find odd since they are not near Hogwarts yet. Ron senses movement outside the train. The lights go out and the train gets cold. Suddenly there’s a ghost like hooded figure in the doorway of their compartment. Harry hears screaming and faints, convulsing on the ground. Professor Lupin jumps up getting rid of the creature with a spell. When Harry comes to, everyone looks worried. No one else had a fainting spell or heard screaming. Ron says the creature (demeanor) made him feel as if he would never be happy again. They arrive to school only to be whisked away by Professor McGonagall who has Harry looked over by the school nurse. Dumbledore explains at the feast that Hogwarts will be playing host to the dementors this year and for students to take caution.

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Sorrento 

What I love about this chapter is that it starts with a journey home with friends. I’ve written a lot about having a tribe, a good support system, or making friends in law school. Being away for a month has made me even more certain that these staple people in your life are necessary. As Harry, Hermione, and Ron set out back to school, Harry feels this need to unpack some troubling thoughts on his friends, who welcome it. They joke, they laugh, and they worry for one another. When the dementor is gone and Harry comes to there’s this beautiful imagery of Hermione hugging Ginny who wandered into their room before the dementor appeared in the door way. Ginny is crying out of fear and Hermione is there to comfort her. Professor Lupin, a complete stranger to these students offers harry a chocolate bar (which is a ready to the effects of dementors) and Ron looks worriedly towards his friend, making sure he’s alright.

Being abroad for a month, where there’s a slight language barrier and none of your super close friends came with, makes you realize just how much you rely on others to be there for you. Looking back on my 1L year (which thankfully is done) there are a few key individuals that I met in law school that helped me succeed. There are also a lot of people who I wanted to be great friends and part of their support systems that just didn’t work out, which is okay in the end. Thinking on it now, my advice to incoming 1Ls this fall is this: don’t force it. I started out orientation with the idea that I need to befriend everyone, make a great first impression, be likable and loved by many. I tied my whole identity to being fun, agreeable, and cool. I mixed and mingled with a lot of people. I went to the bar, I went out, I joined study groups, I helped teach people the material before finals… I never said no.

When the Dementors came I wasn’t surrounded by everyone that I worked so hard to please all semester/year, instead I had a few people in my corner there to make sure I was okay or to hold me while I cried.

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Just your average people pleaser at Pompeii 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of being a people pleaser. We are constantly told over and over at orientation that your reputation starts now and will stay with you forever. While for some that means being cool and always having a good time, that doesn’t mean you have to always conform to other people’s standards, it doesn’t mean you have to make everyone like you, it doesn’t mean you have to be a people pleaser.

Stay true to who YOU are. Follow YOUR convictions. Do what feels right to YOU. Fill your corner with a few true friends and just be nice to everyone else. I’d rather have a Golden Trio of friends then a room full of Death Eaters when the dementors come.

 

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed