Law school, and well life in general, is full of false summits for most people. (I say most people because there are those whose law school experience has been perfect since the beginning, and that’s great!)
What’s a false summit you might ask? “In mountaineering, a false peak or false summit is a peak that appears to be the pinnacle of the mountain but upon reaching, it turns out the summit is higher. False peaks can have significant effects on climbers’ psychological states by inducing feelings of dashed hopes or even failure.” (Thank you Wikipedia!)
False summits are the absolute worse, even if you know they are coming. One of the first major hikes I did in Colorado was the Incline in Mantou Springs. Kalle and I knew about the false summit. I tried to mentally prepare my brain for it, reminding myself constantly that what i could see that looked like the top wasn’t actually the top. But every time I looked up my brain so badly wanted it to be the end so it could say “look what I accomplished!” Instead every time it had to come back to reality and realize we still had a whole other leg of the journey that we couldn’t see yet. And that’s hard for a brain in which its biggest fear is never accomplishing anything…perfectly.
Let’s tie this into Harry Potter, shall we?
Chapter 9- The Woes of Mrs. Weasley
We pick up where the last post left off. Dumbledore doesn’t talk to Harry before leaving the courtroom. Mr. Weasley takes Harry back to Grimmauld Place. On their way out they see Fudge meeting with Lucius Malfoy. Back at Grimmauld Place, everybody celebrates Harry’s acquittal. Everyone gets their Hogwarts letters and Ron and Hermione are named prefects. Harry is jealous that Ron was chosen over him as prefect, given all he has done at Hogwarts over the years. (Damn, that friendship jealousy.)
After the party, Mrs Weasley goes upstairs to get rid of the Boggart Mad-Eyed Moody identified for her earlier. Moody shows Harry an old photograph of the original Order of the Phoenix. After going upstairs, Harry finds that the sight of Mrs. Weasley’s worst fears (all her family members and Harry dead) was too much for her; she started ugly crying before Lupin gets rid of the Boggart after arriving upstairs with Sirius and Moody. As they help calm her down, Mrs Weasley wonders about the future of her loved ones.
Chapter 10- Luna Lovegood
On the day of departure to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, the group is rushing to get ready as the children will be taken there under guard per Moody’s recommendation. Sirius accompanies them in his Animagus form. After the Hogwarts Express departs, with Ron and Hermione having to go to the prefects’ carriage, Harry shares a compartment with Ginny, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood. Later Ron and Hermione show up and tell them who the new prefects are for the other houses, including Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson for Slytherin. Luna is reading a tabloid magazine called The Quibbler, of which, she tells them, her father is the editor.
Draco and Co. show up to make fun of the fact that Ron was chosen over Harry for the position of prefect and his comment “dogging around” causes Harry to worry that Draco might know now that Sirius is an Animagus. After arriving at Hogsmeade station Harry notices that instead of Hagrid, Professor Grubbly-Plank, who previously substituted for Hagrid during their last school year, is there to direct the first years to their boats. When boarding their carriage Harry notices that the carriages are being pulled by some sort of winged horses. He points them out to Ron and Hermione, but they can’t see them, and act worried when he insists that they are right there. Luna says that she can see them, and in fact could see them ever since she first came to Hogwarts. Harry is mystified, since he couldn’t see them when he first came, but he can see them now.
Luna Lovegood is one of those characters I relate to the most but find it hard to admit to. I mean in a perfect world I would be Hermione. I’d have great friends, people would admire how brainy I was, and I would have the willpower to fight for great causes. Okay, honestly I would just wanna be as smart as Hermione. But alas, I am more of a Luna, a little odd, dresses funny, people don’t necessarily want to be around all the time, etc. Luckily though no one has stolen my shoes…as of yet. Luna however is completely okay with who she is, as where I wish I was anyone but myself at least once a day. Her world is perfect. She creates her own brand of magic with what she believes in.
Who is completely opposite from this? Harry. In these chapters I can relate to Harry quite a bit. He is completely put off by his friends’ success. When Ron is chosen to be a prefect, Harry feels jealousy… the why not me complex kicking in. Most of us have been there at some point or another. If you are anything like me, when you get those fits of jealousy, you try to stop and ask yourself why you are so jealous. Before therapy my answer would be, “I just can’t help it.” Now, it’s more like “Because I have an irrational fear that I will not accomplish anything in life and that in my perfectionist world that honor (award, job, etc.) would mean that I matter, that I accomplished something.”
My idea of reaching great accomplishments, receiving awards, titles, and accolades is a false summit in life. When I finally got my first A- in law school, I thought to myself, it’s all finally clicked, I’m going to just keep doing what I just did and BAM I’ll keep doing well…false summit. When I got my first summer internship, I thought to myself, this will be great and my future will now just fall into place…false summit.
Here’s the hard lesson I’ve learned from this nasty cycle: life shouldn’t be just a series of accomplishments followed by the hard realization that there is still a long ways to go. We should be treating life the way Luna does… we should be creating our own world full of gnarkles and other magical creatures that may or may not exist. We should be looking for the good in everything and not just looking at the things we can receive. Wear that lion headress to the qudditch match and be proud! Say what you want. Be weird or don’t be weird, whatever works for you! Just be you and be unapologetic. Don’t wait for accolades to say who you are… create your own system of accomplishments. Enjoy what you have, don’t compare what you have to others and let that crush your spirit. All that does is create a series of false summits on your way to finding true happiness.
And sure, a lot of people reading this probably already know this to be true. To those people I say this: look to be a light in the world. Show others who struggle kindness and compassion. Listen to those people and affirm who they are. Sometimes people just want to know that they aren’t invisible, that they exist in the same world you do. You don’t have to be their best friend, but have just enough compassion to show them that they do in fact exist in your world too.
But for those of you out there who struggle through life, like I do, whether it be because of emotional disorders, anxiety and depression, or just overall self-doubt, know that your life doesn’t have to be a series of false summits, that you can be free from that mind trap, you can see the world that way it should be and not just the way it is. You can create your own magic and get out of the constant fear loop of never being enough and never overcoming your other fears. We can do this. We don’t have to be jealous of others. We can take solace in who we are. We don’t have to be Harry Potters… we can be Luna Lovegood and love ourselves no matter what.
Until Next Time,