“It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.”
One of my favorite things lately has been J.K. Rowling’s new website, Pottermore. The experience of Pottermore takes you through the Potter books as part of the wizarding universe, along with Harry and the gang; you interact with events and places from the book, and you complete tasks like making potions and casting spells.
I suck at potion-making and spell-casting at the moment. It’s the first time in my life that I’m failing a class and I have some residual school anxiety over it, before I remind myself that it is (sadly) not, er, real per se.
The best part thus far of the Pottermore experience was getting Sorted into a house. In the books, the Sorting Hat places Hogwarts students into their respective houses based on a magical process that allows the Hat to see into the students’ minds and souls, and then puts them in the House they’re most suited for.
On the website, Sorting is done through a series of multiple choice questions written by Rowling and randomly given by the computer. So- yeah, it’s not quite as mystical and meaningful as the real, made-up thing, but getting Sorted, even if it was by the computer, ended up being pretty meaningful for me.
Many moons ago, when I first started reading the Harry Potter series, one book at time (literally, my sister and I shared one book and took turns reading it), I always fancied myself a Ravenclaw. Love of learning, admiration of wit? Those are my jams! So you can imagine my keen surprise– nay, my utter shock– at learning that Jo Rowling and her Magical Computer Machine had sorted me into….Gryffindor house.
Gryffindor?!?! Seriously? The house known for its bravery, chivalry…and hold up–red and gold? Those are so not my colors.
From there, it was a tailspin into questioning not only my faith in Jo, aka She Who Does No Wrong, but in myself. Who am I, if not a Ravenclaw? Has my own self-authorship been a lie? What else don’t I know about myself? WHO AM I???!?!?!?!?!? *shakes fists in general direction of the sky**
Eventually, I came round to plucking myself out of the bottomless pit that is an existential crisis, and I’ve come to learn some things since being sorted into Gryffindor.
I’ve stop letting “being a student” define me. I think some of the reason I associated myself so strongly with the house of Rowena Ravenclaw was because of my own identity as a perpetual student. I love school, and part of working in a college means that I’ve never really left school. Ever. I went straight from high school to college, to grad school from undergrad, and then right into teaching at ICC. But, I’m long past my college days now, and though I will be a life-long learner and seeker of knowledge (and a co-learner with my students), simply put, there is more to me than being good at school. And, like Hermione (my favorite Gryffindor), I understand now, at 26, that there is a time for book learning, and a time for taking action and being brave.
Trust me, I never thought the adjective “brave” would be one that anyone would every apply to me. I’m not particularly adventurous or thrill-seeking. I’m rather averse to that sort of thing if I’m honest, I prefer to let those scenarios play out on the pages of books than in my day-to-day. But, when I truly examine myself and my life as an adult, I’m proud in a non-braggy-more-shocked-than-anything way at the fact that I call myself brave. At least, I can reflect and see myself making bold choices, being decisive, and not being fearful of taking action when the situation requires it.
Really, it’s that kind of bravery that I so admired in the people I looked up to while I was growing up like my Mom and Dad, my favorite teachers Mr. Roberts and Mrs. Burgoni, my college mentors. And I see bravery now in the company of wonderful friends I am so lucky to keep. Being brave isn’t about being aggressive, or having the loudest voice in the room, or making the riskiest decision. It’s about putting others before yourself and taking action when the easier choice would be to sit back and do nothing. Think of Lily Potter and her selfless act of saving her son, or of Neville turning into a leader while Harry was away from Hogwarts. And the small acts of bravery too- Harry taking Loony Luna to Slughorn’s party or Ron staying on the Quidditch team even after he became a laughingstock.
Sometimes it takes bravery to be kind in this world. Jo Rowling expands on this theme a lot in her wonderful books, and that is one of the many, many reasons that I will keep coming back to Harry Potter to immerse myself in that strange and wonderful universe.