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Becoming a Gryffindor

I have been a Harry Potter fan ever since I was about thirteen years old. I was, however, introduced to Pottermore.com (the official Harry Potter website) my freshman year of college, along with the sorting hat quiz. This hat sorts you into a Hogwarts house that goes along with your personality, traits, and generally speaking, the type of person you are. I took the quiz, as excited as any true Potter fan can be to finally see what house they belong to, and discovered I was a Ravenclaw. I was pleased, but not surprised. It made sense: I have always been bookish and intellectual. I enjoy taking class notes and I like learning. Thinkers usually belong here. This meant I was not ambitious and cunning like Slytherin, or particularly kind and agreeable like Hufflepuff; furthermore, I was not bold and adventurous like Gryffindor, the house that took in Harry himself.

This made sense in other ways too. Up until my freshmen year of college, I knew myself to be shy when first meeting other people, although not entirely averse to making conversation. I was confident enough that I was not ashamed of being “nerdy” or “weird,” as some people called me, and would embrace such labels instead. After all, high school was over and I could stop trying to be “popular,” whatever that entails these days. In terms of leadership, I always had some sort of seed inside me that led me to volunteer in school activities, like acting as the main narrator for a school play, or running for president of the student government my junior year of high school (I didn’t win), or even enjoying public speaking a great deal. Oral presentation in front of the class? No problem. Yet I was never assertive. In a group of friends or classmates, I would always let others speak louder; I didn’t want the spotlight, the final say, the pressure of coming up with a final plan. It was much easier to quietly suggest my thoughts then let others decide. If you do not decide, you cannot make mistakes.

Alas, college does not often let others decide for you. Parents and family are far away (in most cases) and responsibility suddenly falls on your shoulders. Will you send that important email to your professor, or will you sit and watch another Netflix episode? Will you finish your homework in time, or fall behind in class? Will you take on an active role—sign up for clubs, look for fulfilling jobs, build relationships, work on yourself? Will you finally join that ballet class you have been thinking about? As you slowly, painfully, and gradually try and turn into one of those meal-prepping, laundry-folding, bill-paying “adults,” you realize taking mom the wheel is no longer an option. Not even Jesus can do it for you.

As a college student I joined various clubs, then settled on a leadership role within Model UN. I took on an interesting job, joined my college’s student government, and became as involved overall as I could. As a junior, however, and after trying my best for the past two college years, I can say I am finally becoming a relatively efficient person at balancing human activities. I struggle managing my time and keeping track of commitments, but I no longer spend an hour drafting an email or argue with myself on whether I can prolong cleaning my room. These days I manage to cook for myself, and get to class promptly and willingly—on most days. More importantly, I no longer spend valuable energy debating whether I can do something. I just do it. I am constantly revising my schedule, adding events, and shifting my studying sessions to accommodate the next thing. The more you do, I like to remind myself, the more time you have.

Along with the super-human-adult qualities that I am slowly developing, like scheduling times to clean my apartment, I find myself being a lot more outspoken these days. I find myself comfortably arguing in favor of my ideas, saying things more directly without simultaneously giving unnecessary compliments, and standing up for my decisions without wavering at the first sign of dissension. Simply put, these days I am comfortable enough with my judgment that I doubt myself less. This also means that I confidently shout out the wrong answer in class. Yes, if you do not make decisions you cannot make mistakes. But you also miss your chance to be right. And I would rather be wrong every now and then, rather than let days go by without taking action. The thing most people forget is if you don’t decide, you are forfeiting your chance to do something. Let it be right or wrong, but let it be something. Either way you will learn.

I took the sorting hat quiz a few days ago again. Apparently Pottermore relaunched the page and I lost my previous account. So I did, entirely confident I would be sorted into Ravenclaw once again. I am still an intellectual after all. Yet my answers resulted in a new house entirely: Gryffindor. I blinked a few times. Gryffindors stand for what they believe in. They are adventurous and brave, and lead their way into life. I like to think that this simply reflects the new traits I have developed, and that faced with a new city, a new apartment, and a college experience, life can make a Gryffindor out of any of us.

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