Some Thoughts on Sorting
I will never forget the first time that I looked up a quiz online to find out which Hogwarts house I belonged in. I clicked on the first one I found on a Google search and eagerly filled out the questions. I was new to the Harry Potter universe, and nervous about where I would fit in. It felt somehow capital-i Important to get sorted to the Right House, even though the results of the quiz would no way effect anything in my "real life". At that point, nobody else in the world even knew I was reading the Harry Potter books. They were still a clandestine secret tucked between my boxspring and mattress.
"Click to find your house!" said the button at the bottom of the survey. My palms were sweaty. In my mind, I was imagining Minnie McGonagall leaning over me with the wide-brimmed Hat, her face all pinched and serious with the formality of the occasion. I could almost hear the murmuring rising up from the House Tables as the other students placed their lots on which house I'd go to. I clicked the button.
I felt betrayed.
I'd wanted to be in Gryffindor. I'd wanted to be Hermione with her crimson and gold scarf, devouring books and leading the class. I thought Hermione and I had a lot in common, I thought the test must be wrong. Why would I be a Ravenclaw? Nobody cool was in Ravenclaw... were they? Hermione wasn't, at any rate. I had to be a Hermione, I just had to be!
So I took another test. And another. And another. And another...
Heartbroken, I gave up on the tests for awhile. When people asked which Hogwarts house I was in during those early days, I said I didn't know.
Then I met Luna Lovegood and realized I had never identified more with a character in my entire life and I embraced my Ravenclawness with a pair of spectrospecs.
For years I was a proud 'claw. I have the robes, for crying out loud! I bought the scarf and the headband, I plastered my water bottles, laptops, and even my car with Ravenclaw stickers. Practically my entire wardrobe is blue to be able to sneak in my Claw accessories on a daily basis. When I say I embraced Ravenclawness, I mean I truly, madly, deeply embraced it. Being a Ravenclaw became a part of my identity. One of the first things I would tell people was that I was a Ravenclaw. The way most people identified their race or their religion in an introductory sentence, I identified my Hogwarts house. Even on my professional resumes and portfolios I included "Ravenclaw" as an identifier.
Two weeks ago, I found out I'm a Hufflepuff.
There was a misunderstanding as I introduced myself to someone and they said that I was a Hufflepuff and the moment the words came out of their mouth something deep within me sort of... settled into a comfortable pillowfort of acceptance. It was as though I'd been instantly transported into the Hufflepuff common room, laid gently upon the softest couch on the entire planet in front of a nice warm, wood-scented fireplace, surrounded by the fresh smell of soil and plants, and given a big mug of hot chocolate and a bowl of freshly popped corn. Something in me whispered, "Welcome home, love."
I took the tests again in a panic. The official one, the one with all the answers, the one where you click a picture of a dog and it can tell you which house you belong in. I took every form of a Hogwarts sorting test I could find. All these tests that once gave me a resounding "RAVENCLAW!" were suddenly changing their tune.
I sat in shock as I stared at the results screens again and again and again as they turned yellow and black. I sat hugging my blue and silver Ravenclaw scarf to my chest. How could this be? How could I be suddenly sorted Hufflepuff after years of Ravenclaw results? Ravenclaw was my blood, and now you're telling me I'm a Puff? What the HELL is a Hufflepuff?!?
I logged onto Etsy and ordered a gold and black scarf within ten minutes. At least, I told myself, my merch would be the right colors. (I am still bitter that my official Ravenclaw merch from the Studio Tour in London doesn't have the right colors. I will be forever offended by the lack of bronze merch.)
So now here I am, writing this blog entry, wrapped in a Hufflepuff scarf and eating Girl Scout Cookies, and realizing that Hufflepuffs have the Good LifeTM, and wondering why I wasn't a Hufflepuff long ago. (Man, it's great being a Puff.) It got me thinking, though. Why was I so happy as a Ravenclaw all those years if I was truly a Hufflepuff in my heart?
The Ravenclaw in me flared up and I started trying to think of a logical explanation.
(I'm such a Ravenpuff, y'all.)
Here is what I concluded:
I have changed quite a lot in the last few months. Since the beginning of October, when I became a follower of Jesus, I've completely altered a lot about who I am. From a place of internal darkness and depression, I'd been brought into a place of light and love and acceptance. For many years, the only form of friendship and acceptance I'd had was my books and the only thing I had to cling to was my knowledge. If I didn't know something, I felt like a failure. I defined myself by the things I learned and the degrees I held. I validated Who I Was by pointing out my Bachelors and Masters degrees and pressed on to obtain even more degrees because that was the only way to prove myself worthy. But Jesus didn't require all that. All He wanted was my heart. Suddenly, I went from this place of striving for intellect and rightness to accepting not only myself but others with my heart instead of just my mind.
In other words, I grew.
Throughout the Harry Potter books, there's a constant theme of maturity and change, of learning that just Slytherins can be brave and Gryffindors can be smart, Ravenclaws can be accepting, and Hufflepuffs can be cunning. Maybe, I thought, maybe the sorting isn't meant to be about dividing the houses, but about ultimately uniting them.
Hear me out.
Dumbledore and others at the school often lament that the sorting may be done too soon, that young children at the age of 11 aren't fully developed and therefore don't necessarily display all the tendencies that they will one day be defined by. But what if the Founders were not only aware of that trouble, but using it to strengthen the core of the students?
The sorting takes place the first year of Hogwarts, setting a foundation for the student to begin at. They are put in with like-minded people to establish a comfort and an instant safe feeling in a new and uncomfortable world as they are separated from their families for the first time. This provides them with a home away from home, and some level of being understood and accepted for who they are at the time when they need it most. But what if the goal was never to stay in that pocket?
As the students learn and grow, they're mingled with one another, slowly blending them together in their classes. By third year when they're allowed to choose electives, they've each been exposed to one another and the students within the houses have been given a chance to interact and mingle together. This is where you start to see changes in their characters, where you start to see them broadening and becoming more and more dimensional.
Maybe that was the plan of the Founders all along. Eventually, the lines between the houses should blur as we learn and grow until we finally reach adulthood, where we're given away into the world, a fully rounded being,
So here's to the house crossovers, the people whose identity has been shaped, challenged, and reassigned. May you recognize the changes are not something scary, but a sign that you are growing and maturing and becoming more and more the person you're meant to be. Maybe your change won't be dramatic enough to actually change houses - maybe you'll be a brave Puff or a cunning Gryffindor all your life. But whatever it is that makes your sorting wobble, know that it is a good thing - it is a sign that you're growing up.