Harry Potter and the Identity Crisis
Yesterday the new Pottermore website (an official all-things-Harry-Potter website) re-launched its new and improved interactive platform where users get sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. Naturally, I’d had a Pottermore account for years and knew that I was a Ravenclaw. But I took the test again – partly to make sure that I was indeed a true Ravenclaw, and partly because I love the beautiful illustrations that go with anything to do with Pottermore. Plus, who doesn’t like a good quiz?
I took the quiz, fairly confident I would get sorted into Ravenclaw again, when this happened.
Hold your hippogriffs – I’m a what?
A Gryffindor. I am now a Gryffindor. What is this dark magic?
Obviously, this surprise got me asking a handful of tough questions. Have I not been a true Ravenclaw all this time? Is the test faulty? Have I changed this much since 2009? Am I not smart and creative enough anymore?
This identity crisis echoed the one I had almost 7 years ago, when the website first launched and sorted me into Ravenclaw House. I’ll be honest: I was disappointed. Ravenclaw seemed a little too brainy for my taste; I didn’t like how all the adjectives used to describe its students revolved around their intellect. I felt like I was more than just smart; I wanted the test to tell me I was brave. I wanted it to tell me I was cool.
But I had to accept this decision since it was, for the first time, a true authority that told me where in Hogwarts I belonged; and therefore, who I was. And so I learnt to like Ravenclaw. I appreciated its values and its role models. I liked that it accepted eccentrics like Luna Lovegood. And though I never quite loved the seemingly limiting trait of ‘just smart’, I decided that it did relate to who I was.
And so when Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor, it felt both like a victory and a betrayal. I was a Ravenclaw. I had accepted that. Yet now I also got to be cool.
But why did it matter so much what a website had to say about who I was?
If you think about it, your identity depends on so many more things than the person you are. The world shapes you, and then you may get a little say in who you want to be within the parameters you have been given. But how much of a choice do you really have? I was raised with books and a tendency for shyness. Does that define who I am and always will be? Does that make me a studious librarian by default?
I would say not. While I enjoy philosophical debates and spiritual reflections, I wouldn’t call myself studious. And my shyness feels more like a barrier than a true part of ‘the real me’.
All in all, this change in allegiance seems to be fitting to the person I am growing into. Seven years ago I was in high school and my life revolved around learning and studying. Nowadays, I am having to get out of my shell a huge amount, whether that has to do with living abroad, making friends or simply searching for a job. Perhaps my being sorted into Gryffindor beautifully reflects how I am working on becoming more courageous.
Identities don’t have to be limiting. They are a tool for understanding where you are at right now. They don’t have to define who you will always be.
We know what we are, but not what we may be. ~ William Shakespeare
Dumbledore once said that he was afraid students got sorted into their Hogwarts houses too soon. Maybe it’s always too soon. Maybe you’re never fully one thing; but rather, you adapt and shift from one quality to another depending on what you need to be at the time. Recently, a user got sorted into Hufflepuff after having been sorted into Slytherin… to which J.K. Rowling responded:
@__dominika You're a Slytherpuff. They're incredibly rare, so well done.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) August 26, 2015
And to that I say: I am a Ravendor.
And proud to be.