Confessions of a Recovering Ravenclaw

I never got around to joining Pottermore the first time around, so the new Sorting Hat Test is the only official sorting test I’ve ever taken. I don’t know what the old test would have given me, but I was just as befuddled by my result as the people who were finding themselves suddenly re-sorted.

Gryffindor? Seriously? That was third most likely. The only less likely house would have been Slytherin–not so much because I have anything against potentially hanging out with Dark Wizards, but more because my utter lack of ambition is at marginally dangerous levels.

On the other hand, who knows? I don’t think this particular test is very accurate, but it’s not impossible for me to be Gryffindor. I do have a tendency to jump to other people’s defense whenever someone needs defending. Maybe I’m like Neville Longbottom, all my Gryffindor energy pent up inside until I grow up enough to embody it.

I wonder if the real Sorting Hat, in the universe where it really exists, does take the course of a person’s entire future into account. I wonder if it sees the ultimate end of one’s life philosophies, or if it takes the average of one’s philosophies over the course of one’s life. A friend of mine wondered what would happen if Hogwarts students got re-sorted each year. “Wouldn’t it be interesting? As people change, and grow, and develop, so might their Houses change. Because who we are when we are eleven is not (so I devoutly hope) who we will be the rest of our lives.”

I am positive I am not who I was when I was eleven.

At Hogwarts at the age of eleven, I certainly would have been a Ravenclaw (as long as they didn’t hold that actually-remembering-homework problem against me). I was a Capital-N Nerd. My life WAS my brain, and learning, and even showing off what a huge know-it-all I was (though, unlike Hermione Granger, I apparently lacked the bravery and crusading, SPEW-creating spirit that would have put me in Gryffindor). Also (though this was established only in 2003) if I’ve had any ambition in my life it has been to BE Luna Lovegood, so there is that, too.

Only a year or two earlier, one of the books I was always writing contained a scene that went something like this:
Mary Sue Version of Me: “Hmm, maybe [incredibly obvious deduction]!”
Classmate: “Wow, Amy, you’re such a genius, you should be in the ADVANCED ADVANCED Gifted Education Program!”
Mary Sue Amy, without any trace of reaction: “Well, they don’t have that, so I guess the REGULAR Gifted Education Program will have to do.”

I swear I actually wrote that. Unironically.

I clung to the fact that I was smart. Sure, I was a crybaby whose “best friends” pretended we weren’t actually friends around other kids. Sure, I had over-sized glasses and crooked teeth and the physical coordination of a chess piece. But dangit, I was SMART.

At the end of 8th grade we had an awards assembly, and among the awards were medals given to the student who scored the highest on each separate subject of the standardized tests we’d taken. I got all the medals but one. I think it was the math. Anyway, that was the first I’d ever felt a little embarrassed about it. But, at least, it was something I could feel confident about.

It probably was in about 8th grade, too (because that was the height of my paperback-horror phase), that I read this book, Prom Dress, about a cursed formal dress that left each unwitting girl who wore it without the one thing they were most proud about. And there was a brainiac girl who ended up brain damaged. And it squigged me out. THAT CAN’T HAPPEN TO ME, I thought. MY LIFE WOULD TOTALLY BE OVER.

The truth is, I was a snob. For an unpopular kid with no fashion sense who claimed to hate snobs, I was an intelligence snob. I didn’t have the patience for people who thought slower than me.

In high school, I read an article about EQ– how emotional intelligence is more important than traditional IQ in predicting future success. I was offended. I knew they were trying to make people who aren’t so smart feel better about themselves, but are they trying to say people who do have high IQs aren’t so great? PAH.

But as I got older, I gradually figured out that the article was right. For one thing, a positive thing, I met several people who taught me to appreciate that even people who had low IQs, let alone weren’t smart, had other valuable (sometimes even more valuable) qualities.

“I know I’m not very good at some things,” one such woman, who I’d (take that, snobby-younger-self) come to know as a friend, told me once, “but there are OTHER things I AM good at, so I focus on those!” I’ve never forgotten that. The world would say I was blessed with so much more natural talent than she was–and yet here she was, teaching ME something very important that I still haven’t mastered.

For a not-so-positive thing? Yeah, real life has no use for brainiacs. Who gets paid to take standardized tests?

So for most of adulthood, I haven’t taken much pride in my brains. But I still defined myself by them. I’m pretty sure I would have immediately put myself in Ravenclaw as recently as a few years ago. I was just bitter, resigned that the school system had failed me and I was a failure. “Yep, that’s me, the brainiac. Completely useless at anything else, but a brainiac.”

But they say, when real change happens, the old self dies and makes way for the new. How I see myself has changed a lot in the past few years, as I’ve struggled through my mental health issues. And it’s possible that my old self was the Ravenclaw. And sure, I’m still a nerd. I still love learning and memorizing weird trivia facts and doing pencil puzzles in GAMES Magazine. I write for a site called GeekMom, for gosh sake! But I don’t define my whole self by my braininess anymore. There are other things I value more. There are other things I want to BE. I’m not stuck in my old ways of thinking. And it’s possible this New Me would fit in better in another Hogwarts house.

Right now I’m leaning particularly toward Hufflepuff’s open, loving, supportive, and (need I add) food-appreciating nature. But as I continue to grow, I could even find myself latching on to a big boost of Gryffindor courage.

It’s possible the Sorting Hat would have seen through my adolescent need to be The Smartest and into the sensitive soul who really just wanted everyone to love each other, and made me the ‘Puff I certainly seem to be today. Or maybe it really WOULD have looked through even that to the Defender in me, who always stuck up for other kids who were being bullied even though I was bullied just as much, and the current Pottermore test actually IS right.*

Who knows, really. But I’ll still try to be the Best ME I can be, and wherever I fit, so be it.

*But I still doubt it. Gryffindor doesn’t have a monopoly on bravery. To cross fantasy worlds here, Samwise the Brave is the crowning example of the Heroic Hufflepuff. Being brave when the need requires is entirely different than seeking out reasons to be brave!

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Amy M. Weir is a public youth services librarian in SW Pennsylvania, and there’s nothing she geeks out about more. Outside of work she obsesses over music (especially rock especially psychedelic pop especially The Beatles), sews clothes, gardens when the weather’s nice, avoids housework, and generally is the poster-child for Enneatype 9, which she attempts to counteract with yoga when she remembers. She has an RPG-and-firearms-geek husband who asked her out by playing a Paladin-in-Shining-Armor devoted to serving her character in D&D; a LEGO-and-Minecraft-geek 9yo named after a hobbit; a My Little Pony-and-art-geek 7yo named after a SFF writer; and an Imaginary Husband named Martin Freeman, who isn’t actually aware of this relationship.