Hogwarts Houses mean more than just fantasy
One of my most defining traits is that I am a die-hard Potterhead. For all of you Muggles out there, that means I love anything and everything Harry Potter.
During quiet reading times throughout elementary school, I was nose deep in the "Sorcerer's Stone." I had finished all seven books by the time I was in the third grade.
As a kid, I read a chapter book a day and went to the library and bookstore once a week. I excelled in school, reading at a college level and finishing my times table worksheets before anyone else in my class. So no surprise, I always identified as a Ravenclaw.
Until I started high school. As I advanced through the grades and got more schoolwork, homework, extracurriculars, and other responsibilities, I found myself drifting away from all of the pleasure reading and perfect scores that made a Ravenclaw a Ravenclaw. I still wore the blue jacket with the eagle on it, but it didn't define me as much as before.
So I found something that would tell me my one true Hogwarts House: the official Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz. 15-ish questions later, I had my answer. I was sorted into... Slytherin?
That couldn't be right. Slytherin was the evil house! But the Hat had spoken. And as I did a little bit more research, I discovered that Slytherins aren't all that bad. Slytherins are smart like Ravenclaws, but more street smart. They were cunning and ambitious, using logic and common sense. They achieved their dreams instead of waiting for them to magically fall into place. That was me.
During high school, I became obsessed with getting ahead in everything. I took as many AP classes as possible, volunteered, joined clubs. I was constantly wanting to do more, showing up early and staying late, getting as much experience as possible so I could have a headstart in life. My college resume was going to look flawless. Club presidency? Lots of volunteer work? Tons of people able to write me a great letter of recommendation when the time came? Check, check, and check.
So whenever the West Linn Public Library's annual Harry Potter Night rolled around, I was always first on the list to volunteer. Over the years it grew and grew, going from a one-room potions class to a giant event using every room in the library plus the McLean House down the street. I was right there amid the magic since Year One. And for the fifth annual event, my last one before I went off to college, you couldn't have paid me enough to miss it.
At the volunteer training day, the library gave away House-themed library poker chips to thank the volunteers. I grabbed a green one. I didn't think anything of it.
But my mom did.
"Why did you get a SLYTHERIN coin?" she asked.
"Because I am a Slytherin?"
This quickly turned into a big deal. To her, all Slytherins are evil scheming jerks who will step over anyone to get what they want. No, I was the least Slytherin-y person she had ever met, and if I didn't stop being Slytherin right this instant, she would never look at me the same way again.
One new Pottermore account and 15-ish questions later, it turns out Mom was right. According to this new quiz, I was not a Slytherin, nor a Ravenclaw, but a Hufflepuff.
After a few minutes of being annoyed about losing the argument, I started to think about what my newfound Puffiness really meant. And I don't know how I didn't see it before.
When I identified as a Ravenclaw, it wasn't because I enjoyed the academic pursuit of pleasure reading, I read because it was fun. I lost myself in a new world for a few minutes and forgot about the problems of reality. What helped me succeed in school was hard work, not an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
And as a Slytherin, I had confused my passion for hard work and helping others with ambition. I volunteered because I wanted to make a difference and help people. I took on clubs and AP classes because I liked planning, work, and relationships that went into them.
I make friends wherever I go, I care about others more than myself, I love and protect fiercely, I love to cook and to eat. I am officially the Puffiest Puff in the history of Puffs.
After one confiscated green poker chip and a serious case of mistaken identity, I feel confident that the Sorting Hat finally got me right. And although I wish I had known it sooner, my Ravenclaw and Slytherin selves got me to this point. I can thank the Ravenclaw for my love of language, and the Slytherin for all of the opportunities she earned me.
Although these are fictional books about magic and wizards and dragons, I learned something from them that was far more important than how to make feathers levitate. These books led me, as well as countless kids and kids-at-heart around the world, to discover myself. If that isn't magic, I don't know what is.
Kaleigh Henderson is a senior at West Linn High School.
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