When my ex boyfriend couldn’t comprehend why I was sobbing on his bed after the Sorting Hat placed me in Ravenclaw and not Gryffindor, I should have known, ultimately in the end, our relationship would not work out.
I hurled myself violently onto his bed and I sobbed and heaved, and it was ugly and it was raw and real, because who was I if I wasn’t in Gryffindor.
Since age 11, I envisioned myself in scarlet and gold. I imagined crawling through the portrait hole into a warm and welcoming common room with the unicorn tapestry hanging on the wall. I longed for a Gryffindor boy to try and sneak up to my room so I could slide down the stairs and meet him at the bottom. Cheering “Go go Gryffindor” at the Quidditch games. Sneaking down to the kitchen to assist in the throwing of raucous celebratory parties if we won. I even made my parents paint my bedroom to look like the Gryffindor common room.
I never thought another house was a possibility.
And mostly I was upset that the “cuddling Oliver Wood by the Gryffindor common room fireplace” fluff fics I wrote during math class circa 2005 were suddenly…moot? I worked really hard to avoid doing math, and I worked really hard on loving a fictional character as much as Oliver Wood (and Sirius Black, but that’s another essay for another time.)
The traditional traits of Gryffindor speak to me on a fundamental level; daring, nerve, determination, and chivalry. Especially while in high-school–a time in my life when I constantly battled with being timid or being a leader.
So, in list form, here are the many reasons why I truly believe(d?) that I am/was(?????) a Gryffindor:
I identify strongly with the character of Ginny Weasley
- I share her hair color, her birthday, and I like to believe her sarcasm, snark and wit
- My mother shares a birthday with Molly Weasley so like I am a Weasley clearly
I put myself in new situations no matter how scary
- and that takes courage or something idk
- I rush into things with reckless abandon sometimes
- I like attention ok
- My hair is kind of like a lion’s mane?
- I have a lot of nerve my mother says so every day
- I am a leo and have always identified as such and therefore lions and maybe I am a Lannister idk
- I always pay my debts
Yet, there I was. Sorted into Ravenclaw. My headcanon of belonging in Gryffindor squashed like an escaped chocolate frog on the floor of the Great Hall. And I was sobbing and crying and nobody gets me, not even that damn Sorting Hat.
So now what? Acceptance? I was just supposed to accept this new Ravenclaw identity as if I felt connected to air and birds and intelligence and answering questions every time I enter the dormitory? Not even just answer, but contemplate . And–you know when you’re on your way home and you kind of have to pee but you can hold it and then you’re unlocking your door and suddenly you REALLY HAVE TO GO? Wouldn’t that be a serious problem for Ravenclaws?
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
My pain was heightened by the fact that everyone else I knew was being sorted into the houses they originally identified with. Or at least, my dramatic reaction and my spectacular ability for tunnel vision made it seem that way. Sure, a few close friends of mine were sorted into Hufflepuff unexpectedly, but they quickly donned their badger gear and began screaming “BLACK AND YELLOW” to the 140 character max.
I couldn’t even join in on that party.
How could I rewrite the history that was my Gryffindor childhood? How could I come to terms with exhibiting traits of a Ravenclaw when they are the very traits I am afraid of showing the most? Intelligence, wit, wisdom, creativity, originality? No way. No, no way. Individuality? Acceptance? What does that even mean?
But…there’s your answer. “Afraid of showing the most.” I’ve always had and admired the traits of the Ravenclaw house, I’ve just been afraid of them. (House Crisis Level: Neville Longbottom)
Here’s where some sorting lore and a few literary elements of the Potter series come into play:
- There’s an often overlooked element of the sorting process: You can be placed into the house with traits you ADMIRE and CRAVE, not necessarily traits you’ve already developed or possess
- Harry doesn’t have a lot of Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff friends, so the qualities of these houses were never showcased or explored
- This also goes for any plot-neutral Slytherins, therefore masking the true nature of the Slytherin house
If I had all the facts, canon, and sorting lore, would I have put myself into Gryffindor? If Ravenclaws played a more prominent role would I have been attracted to the house? As a kid, I admired musicality, originality, individuality, and wittiness. While I could do without text-book based intelligence, I’ve always desired the type of intelligence that is associated with being a talented performer/writer/creator.
Even if I was afraid to actively pursue Ravenclaw traits, I’ve somehow grown into them. Now, 25 years of age, I confidently (well, most of the time) self identify as a musician, a writer, and a creative individual. I value wit and intelligence. I value being a lifelong learner. I thirst for people to known my creativity is mine and that my original ideas are from my brain .
Did I change? Would I have been sorted into Ravenclaw all along so ultimately I could get to this place where the core of my life is creativity and individuality?
Here’s my theory: High school Olivia HAD to be a Gryffindor. I was too concerned with putting myself out there and not taking shit from anyone by the end of my high school years, and too interested in not being dependant on anyone else while still being fiercely loyal (to an extreme fault) to realize how many Ravenclaw qualities I could one day predominately possess.
Somewhere along the lines my bravery allowed me to become a creative person. Determination and daring allowed me to develop a thick skin, and a strong (borderline annoying) sense of self. My nerve helped me develop my voice.
Perhaps Gryffindor and Ravenclaw are linked more closely than we think–
Creativity takes bravery.
Wit takes nerve.
Dare to be original.
Is it ironic that I was sorted into Ravenclaw but I am so fiercely loyal to Gryffindor that I refuse to leave? Yes, it is. Do I believe the Sorting Hat is ever wrong? No, I don’t.
I was a Gryffindor who developed more Ravenclaw traits as I moved through life. But where does that leave me? In the house I would have been sorted into as an 11 year old child? Is the Sorting Hat omniscient and would have placed me in Ravenclaw from the start? Or would it have placed me in Gryffindor knowing I would have the chance to develop my creativity and individuality through my bravery, daringness, and nerve?
Though, as a born-again Ravenclaw, I’ve grown to be critical of the world around me. I question everything, and mostly I question myself. In fact, this whole essay has been one big question mark. And still, if you ask me my house, I still won’t know how to answer.
And mostly I question whether or not wizards are capable of space travel, to what capacity, and did the American Wizarding culture care about the space race or like what was that like I need to know.
And sometimes, I think we sort too soon.
And sometimes, I think we shouldn’t sort at all.