5:20AM- Wake up and notice the laptop that was on my bed is MISSING! Peer over edge expecting to see it has fallen, but alas just the power cord was down there. Looks under bed… no laptop there. Feels under pillow it was next to when going to sleep… no laptop there. Panic sets in.
5:25AM- “Did someone break into my room while I was sleeping and steal my laptop?”, “Did my roommate think my netflix was too loud and take my computer to the living room so she could sleep?”, “Did her parents do it?”, “Why would someone take my laptop? I need it for my life to function.”
5:27AM- Quietly sneak into living room where roomie is sleeping to test out theory. No luck. “Why would I even think this? She’d never actually take it. BUT THEN WHO STOLE MY LAPTOP?!”
5:29AM- PANIC… toss covers back, move pillows… “HOW THE HECK DID IT GET UNDER THE PILLOW I’VE BEEN SLEEPING ON?!?”
5:30AM- plugs computer back in and goes back to sleep.
7:00AM- snoozes alarm
7:10AM- gets up, uses phone, texting boyfriend, sets phone down to make breakfast and pack lunch.
7:38AM- Replies to a text, leaves phone to go eat
7:43AM- Returns to phone to find it won’t turn on! “UGH, WHY IS TECHNOLOGY HATING ON ME SO BAD TODAY”
7:46AM- gives up on trying to revive phone, leaves house, gets gas… yells at every slow driver on the road to work.
8:18AM- sits down at desk, Google phone issue, gets phone to turn back on.
What a morning. The reason I tell this story is not only because I find this morning to have been ridiculous and a bit unnecessary, but also because I think it illustrates an important lesson in dealing with peaks and valleys. I went to bed pretty excited about getting my hair done later today and only having a few more days of work this week. I woke up to a series of events that would cause me to panic and feel super anxious, and then yell at other innocent drivers on the road. My anxiety wasn’t helped by having dreams of being left behind at the airport and almost missing my flights to Europe with friends from my Italy trip.
So to be in line with the theme I’ve discovered in reading these to chapters I created a sub-title to this post: “How to Deal with Peaks and Valleys without Losing Your Sanity and Alienating Your Friends.”
We see a lot happen in these two chapters. In “The Quidditch Final” Hermione and Ron reconcile their differences over helping Hagrid who must now appeal the decision to execute Buckbeak. Draco taunts Hermione to the point were she slaps him across the face. The three prepare to take finals, help Hagrid, and either play in or attend the final match between Slytherin and Gryffindor. Match day comes and the Slytherins play dirty, ultimately though Gryffindor claims victory, winning the Quidditch Cup for the first time in 8 years! Everyone is flying high with happiness in the Gryffindor House.
In “Professor Trelawney’s Prediction,” final exams have taken over the school and everyone is grumpy, tired and overworked, especially Hermione who walks out of Divination after being told she wasn’t any good at the subject by the professor. Hermione also misses Charms class, sleeping through it while doing homework for other classes. Exams come and go one by one. During his last exam Harry is stopped by Professor Trelawney who is in a trance, predicting the master and servant will be reunited that night. Freaked out, Harry goes to tell Hermione and Ron, but before he can they present Harry with the news that Hagrid has lost the appeal and Buckbeak will be executed that night. The three sneak down to Hagrid’s hut (Hermione’s idea, as she went and retrieved the Invisibility Cloak Harry left in a secret passage way), find Scabbers there and try to convince Hagrid to let them reason with the execution team. When Hagrid tells them to go, they sneak out the back and attempt to get back to the school before Buckbeak is executed, only they don’t make it in time and hear the axe swish through the air before crashing down with a thud.
There are so many moments throughout these two chapters where we see people riding on highs (peaks) and people settling into lows (valleys). Going through finals of course will do that to you at Hogwarts or in Law School. Life is full of these ups and downs, this constant change in circumstance and the constant mishaps that seem to threaten to derail every good thing around you. For me, the hardest part is not being at the top or being at the bottom, it’s the climb up or down the mountain that’s the hardest. I can easily settle into a valley and wait out the storm or stand on top of the mountain and let the wind consume me. But the having to go up and the coming down part are the parts where I complain, get mad and lash out the most.
In Italy there was a moment where I just could not deal with the issues anymore. Like Hermione slapping Draco or storming out of a class, I also felt the need to lash out at people when I felt overwhelmed by what I perceived to be the pinnacle moment of a whole bunch of selfish moments. The next day, after I lashed out and then didn’t apologize, I sat down with two friends who gave some pretty great advice, and it seems this advice somewhat matches up with things I pulled out of these two chapters. So here it is, the true ways of dealing with peaks and valleys without losing your sanity and alienating your friends:
- Ask for Help, but Don’t Overestimate the Help You Will Get- This one is extremely hard to do. First you have to be able to calmly and concisely explain what help you need. In crisis moments we tend to not be able to fully think about what we need and how to explain it. At least for me, I tend to get overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment and lose my ability to even process what is happening. But we have to find a way to ask for help in these moments, and once you’ve asked for help you have to be okay with not getting exactly what you need since everyone else is just as human as you. Not everyone can stand by you and be your sounding board, your therapist, your foot doctor (like when you shred the bottom of your toe on some rocks), your best friend, your shoulder to cry on. Most times people can be a few of these things, none of these things, or only one of these things for you. So find that sweet spot of knowing who to go for what things and what you can realistically expect from those you ask for help. You’d be surprised, you may find that someone can’t help you make a huge life decision, but they are there to pick you up in a moment of car troubles. Everyone wants to help, but they can only help as far as their abilities will allow.
- Know Your Limits (Know when Enough is Enough)– It’s funny that Hermione hits Draco or storms out of class after pretty much being told she sucks at something (which we see with her boggart part of the Defense Against the Dark Arts exam is a huge fear for her). It’s funny because it’s a bit out of character for Hermione. Ron making stuff up for his Divination exam is normal, very in character for him. Contrast that with Hermione and we find her out of character experiences to be comic relief. But when you start to peel back the layers and look at what Hermione is going through it becomes less funny and a bit more troublesome. Hermione has bit off far more than she can chew, taking on extra classes this year at school. She’s overwhelmed herself, classic conundrum of what I like to call the “Overachiever Syndrome.” I’ve had this syndrome, and well actually, I still have this syndrome (just take a peek at my resume and you may agree). But instead of Hermione taking a step back and calming herself down, she allows things to boil over into these out of touch moments for her. She lets the world push her far out of her limits and refuses to set boundaries. Then she goes off and hits another student, lashes out at a teacher, misses a class due to exhaustion and starts to be less risk-averse in her decisions. My friends on the couch that night in Italy pointed out that at times this is the type of behavior I follow. I let things push me far past my limits and then instead of taking a step back I go in guns blazing and start taking verbal shots at people. And I know it’s 100% true, I’ve done it time and time again. So in order to not lose friends over these moments, you have to set boundaries, you have to learn when to walk away, reconfigure your plans, get back within a safe zone of your limits and take a breather. If not, you’ll end up hurting people who matter to you and ultimately alienating yourself from tons of people.
- Try Reconcile with Those You’ve Hurt, Even if They won’t Accept your apology I. HATE. APOLOGIZING. There I said it. If there is one things I dislike having to do more than anything else in this world it’s apologize to someone, especially when that person is equally to blame for what has happened. Apologizing, trying to reconcile your differences, is a balance of admitting you were wrong, humbling yourself enough to tell the other person you wish things would have been different, and not expecting an apology in return for their actions. There was a situation this summer where I had to apologize to someone for an argument that we both took part in. I let it stew for a day or so after the argument after being told if I didn’t apologize this person would continue to have a problem with me and I would have to endure being treated like crap by them. I then went to them like a dog approaching its owner with its tail between their legs and apologized, only to receive a ‘Thank You’ afterwards. Who says Thank You for your apology without following it up with another “I’m sorry for the way I acted too”?! But that’s the thing, you have to go into these moments not expecting an apology in return. Ron never actually apologizes to Hermione for the way he’s been treating her, he simply accepts her apology about Scabbers and says he will help her find a way to win Hagrid’s appeal. For me, I didn’t receive an apology from the person I had argued with, but they did stop treating me as badly as they were before I apologized. For Hermione, she didn’t receive an apology, but got help that she wasn’t getting before. Sometimes we just have to let our egos go and take what we can get, because at the end of the day an apology isn’t about what we can get from the other person, it’s about reconciling our own thoughts and feelings towards that person.
- Don’t Fear change “Hermione, I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately!” said Ron, astounded…. Hermione looked rather flattered. What I love about these two sentences is that even though Hermione’s out of character behavior is coming from what seems to be a very sad and unhealthy place, she really isn’t afraid for herself. She doesn’t see this behavior as a total problem. When she misses Charms Class she does go and apologize to Professor Flitwick and is really distraught over it, but she doesn’t dwell on the other changes in her behavior, which tells me she isn’t afraid of growing a bit. I think as the books go on she’s someone we see really change and grow as a character and part of that seems to start here in this book. Personally, I’ve always hated change. Growing up change was a regular thing, you never knew what was going to happen next, there were not a lot of stable moments, so i grew to need stability, a constant in my life. But life isn’t like that. Change is around us all the time. Our relationships change, our circumstances change, one minute your phone isn’t working and then 30 minutes later is magically turns back on. Change is a constant, it is a stable factor in our lives. It makes us who we are. Not fearing change means you won’t hold on too tightly to meaningless things and you won’t suffocate those around you. Being able to note that change is good allows you to really just see as much of the world as you can.
- Celebrate Victories Together, but Don’t Let Them Consume you Lastly, and this is a big one, one to truly follow… share the good times, but realize that in no time you could easily be headed back down the mountain and straight into a valley. I don’t know about everyone else, but when things are good I let that be the benchmark for everything else in my life for a long period of time. So that means when things start to go down hill I spin out of control into a panicked mess because I want to stay on the top of the peak for as long as possible. It would be easy for Harry and the Gryffindors to sit atop their monumental win and refuse to slip back into the depths of final exams. Walking around dressed in the ego of being champions could give them a false sense of self when it comes to taking exams and very much could lead them to failing each one of those exams. Balance is key though. Instead of flying high on their championship, they celebrate for a bit and then hit the books hard. Celebrate those big wins, but also, realize that a valley could be right around the corner, so have realistic expectations about life. Never take a win for granted, losing sight of the big picture of peaks and valleys. Because when the valleys hit after those giant peaks and everyone starts to struggle and complain its easy to leave people behind in search of riding that high again. Don’t let yourself become alienated because you come addicted to the top of the mountain, realize there’s a bigger journey out there and it’s made easier when traveling with friends.
At the end of the day, these things are easier said or written about than done. Yet, they are good reminders that peaks and valleys happen all the time and we have to learn to deal with them in healthy ways. Me yelling at bad drivers on the roads this morning was a result of a small set of hills and valleys, of panics and excitements, of worries and happy plans. While I’m not proud of being a jerk driver (even though no one could hear me, I didn’t flip anyone off or speed up next to them with erratic behavior), it’s better than actually losing friends or my own sanity.
Sorry this is such a long post, I just really enjoyed these two chapters and wanted to share more of my summer and those thoughts with each of you!
Until Next Time,