Hi first years! Let me introduce myself – My name is Nicole Phoenix. I’m a second year in Slytherin house, and a reporter for the Owl Post. If you see me around, don’t be afraid to say hi. I know it’s scary, being in a new place, but we were all first years once, and especially those of us who were in your shoes just last year, we can remember how it felt very well!
I bet you’ve already seen some older students throwing around some cool magic, huh? And if your luck is like mine, you try to cast even a simple spell, and your wand just sits in your hand like a piece of kindling. I am happy to report that this is completely normal!
Last year, when I first started charms, we began learning the Levitation spell. The first time I tried it, it worked. I was SO happy! But after that, it was a solid three weeks before the spell worked again. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t work, and the more time that passed, the more upset I got. I was sad at first, and then I got mad. But all of that was just because I was confused.
A couple of professors said some things like year that really helped me out. First of all, it’s an easy thing to forget that magic is heavily weighted in your emotions. If you’re having a super bad day, or you’re tired, you might not be able to concentrate like you need to in order to cast successfully. Even something like fighting with your friend, or your sibling might keep you from being able to focus like you need to. If you’re hungry or thirsty, you might also be distracted, so make sure to keep a bottle of water with you, just in case! If you’re really stressed out – even about not being able to cast like you want to – that’ll make the whole thing even harder. It’s a vicious cycle that you don’t have to fall into!
Secondly, magic takes TIME to perfect. Even the professors that are teaching us were first years once. They had the same struggles that you’re having right now. And look at them today! Think about this – the Minister of Magic was a first year once!
I’m going to be completely honest. There were so many times last year that I thought I didn’t even belong here. My spells didn’t work, I couldn’t remember details about plants, and I got chased around by a Fwooper during Magical Creatures class once. If any of you are having these same thoughts, I can tell you without a doubt, you DO belong!
Remember when you got sorted, and the Sorting Hat considered which house you belonged in? It can read everything in your mind, as well as seeing that you DO have magic ability. You wouldn’t have been placed in your house if you didn’t belong! Beyond that, you wouldn’t have your name in the book if you — Wait, does everyone know about the book?
If you’re not raised in the magical world, you might not know the story of how students are selected for Hogwarts. If you read in “Hogwarts, A History” there’s a locked tower that only the Headmaster or Headmistress of the school can get into. In that tower, there’s a magical book and a quill. Nobody has touched these books since they were placed in the tower and enchanted by the founder of our school. The book is called the Book of Admittance, and the quill is the Quill of Acceptance. These two items possess a magic so powerful that they can find every magical child in the United Kingdom and Ireland. You never would have gotten your letter if they hadn’t found you, and they wouldn’t find you if you didn’t have magic in you!
I know you all want to do really well, and you want to be the best witch or wizard the school has ever seen. And one day, you might be! But you’ve got to keep your head up, keep practicing, and learn from your mistakes. Every single time a spell doesn’t work is showing you what you need to do differently the next time.
If you’re really struggling, you can always seek help from your professors, or from older students. We have mentoring programs set up to help younger students figure out what they’re supposed to do. Pay attention in class, and do your very best. One day, you’ll try a spell for the thousandth time, and it will come SO naturally, as though you’ve done it a hundred times before. That’s not to say it’ll work every time after that. But you’ll feel it get easier, and easier, and easier.