For a millennial like myself, Harry Potter wasn’t just a book series; it was everything. When Harry Potter enrolled as a first year student at Hogwarts, many of us were starting school for the first time too.I grew up with Harry Potter, and his story developed with mine.

We all know how fun and un-put-down-able the Harry Potter books are, but little did we know that as we read them, they were actually shaping our lives. AlongsideHarry, Ron, and Hermione, I learned all about friendship and loyalty.Neville Longbottomtaught me about bravery while Luna Lovegood showed me it was OK to be unique. I probably learned more life lessons from Dumbledore than my own teachers, and even Severus Snape showed me a thing or two about love. The characters and their journeys have taught me valuable lessons about life.

Here are some (no spoilers!):

1. Not everything is happily ever after
People die, especially the characters we become attached to. The fact that JKR kills off so many of our most beloved characters resembles real life. People die unexpectedly, and not everything ends happily ever after. Sometimes, heartache is required in order toreach the next stage in life.

2. Feminism rules

The women in theHarry Potterseries are fierce. Hermione Granger, Molly Weasley, Minerva McGonagall, are women who thrive on education, friendship, and the betterment of the wizarding world. In the series, the women aren’t treated as helpless victims who have to sit on the sidelines and watch the boys defeat Voldemort. They’re equally involved in the action, strong, just as they were made to be.

3. Being "Cool" Isn't Everything

Hand-me-down clothes, frizzy hair, a giant lightning scar down your forehead? Who cares? From Harry to Hermione, Ron to Neville, the best characters from the Harry Potter books were outcasts, never part of the “cool” group, but they were the ones having the most fun and kicking the most ass!

4. Best friends will always be there

Sure, a friend will help you out of a predicament (like Lupin did when Snape caught Harry with the Marauder’s Map), but a true best friend will be right there in the thick of it. Any time Harry found himself in a troubling situation, Ron and Hermione faced it with him. Can you imagine facing a whomping willow, three-headed dog, and life-size lethal chess set without your best friends?

5. Appearances Can Fool

A stuttering teacher can actually be a half-Voldemort, a lady dressed in pink might really enjoy torturing people, and a scary, giant, hairy guy could turn out to the kindest, gentlest person you ever know. People aren't always what they seem and neither are mirrors, apparently. Harry Potter taught us to question everything, but especially what is right in front of us.

In no other fandom have I experienced so much love, acceptance, and generosity nor have I made so many new friends across the globe. There’s not much I can say that will justify this reason. You’ll just have to experience for yourself.