Recently, I committed the English major’s unpardonable sin.
Plagiarism? No, worse than that – I admitted that I haven’t read the Harry Potter series.
You would think from the scandalized gasps that I’d just admitted to first-degree murder, but that was not the case. Nope, I just haven’t read one of the most beloved fantasy series of all time.
Now, granted, I did pick up the first few books in my late teens, but I never finished the series due to (buckle your seatbelts) a lack of interest. That has actually been my reason for avoiding them all along – my parents never told me I wasn’t allowed to read the books, which might have been a more acceptable excuse at my religious college. No, the reason I didn’t read Harry Potter was because I didn’t want to.
You might be wondering, why didn’t I want to? I’ve always loved reading, and I don’t have anything against fantasy novels. Why didn’t I devour the Harry Potter series like the rest of my peers?
The answer is right there: everyone else was doing it, and therefore, I didn’t want to.
When I was younger, probably around the time I started middle school, I prided myself on being different from everyone else. I didn’t share a lot in common with most of my peers to begin with, so it made more sense to run with it instead of being ashamed of it.
Following that logic, if something was popular – say, a particular book series – I usually tried to avoid it at all costs. That’s the reason why I didn’t read novels like The Hunger Games or The Lightning Thief until after they had peaked. I was usually late to the party on these great stories, but at least I could admit that I was reading them because I wanted to, not because it was “cool.”
Fortunately, I grew out of this mindset as I got older. There’s still a small part of me that flinches when I tell someone I enjoy something that also happens to be popular at the time, but I’ve learned to silence it and just go on with my life.
Actually, I’m pretty embarrassed by how pretentious I was as a teenager. Seriously, where did I get the idea that hating mainstream things solely because of their popularity made me cool? I like to think I didn’t usually make a big deal out of all of it, but let’s face it: I was probably way worse than the people who I was trying to be different from.
Basically, I had a teenage hipster complex.
I still kinda wonder why I acted so weirdly. I mean, there was that whole thing about me already being a weird dork and running with it, but I don’t think that’s the whole story.
I wonder if part of it might’ve been how the culture I grew up in also put down the things that were popular, especially when girls liked them. Look, I’m not saying the Twilight saga is a great work of literature, but I can distinctly remember my childhood friends being made fun of for reading them when they were popular.
Honestly, it probably wasn’t a gender thing anyway, but the thought has crossed my mind.
Maybe it was more of the emphasis that everyone places on “being unique.” Yeah, it’s good to be your own person and all that, but is it possible that we go a little bit overboard sometimes? I think we can feel caught between wanting to like something, but being afraid of losing our individuality because we do.
To be fair, I probably wasn’t going through all of this in my head when I was 13-14 years old, but those thoughts might’ve been in the back of my mind. I guess I valued my “individuality” enough to look down on people who… oddly enough, weren’t like me
As I said, that time is gone and now I read Harry Potter and watch blockbuster movies and listen to Hamilton.
I’m really glad I got over that.