Growing up with Harry Potter, and I mean literally growing up with it, reading the books as you were more or less the same age Harry was in the adventures you were reading about, I desperately wanted to be a Gryffindor. I’m pretty sure we all did. Harry was the hero, and most of the people whose lives we actually followed, the ones who fought and sacrificed and won, were Gryffindors.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Remus, Sirius, the Weasleys.
If, however, by some reason, you didn’t want to be a Gryffindor (not my case), then you certainly wanted to be a Ravenclaw.
Ravenclaws were smart, after all. The smartest of them all. Smart has always been acceptable, and more and more, smart has become cool. And hey, there was Luna to look up to.
No one really wanted to admit out loud they wanted to be Slytherin (they were the bad guys, after all), but even that became easier and easier after a while. Edgier. Sure, the Slytherins were the ‘bad guys’ of this tale, but being a Slytherin didn’t mean you were bad per se; it just meant you were ambitious and you knew what you wanted.
People love a bad guy so much, that the stigma against Slytherins disappeared as soon as we internalized the real lesson of the Harry Potter series: we are, first and foremost, our choices.
One thing that didn’t change, however? Absolutely no one wanted to be thought of as a Hufflepuff (they were the “dumb” ones, after all).
So, I revert to my original point. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a Gryffindor. I even tried to behave as one would, something that isn’t really as far away from the real me as the title of this article might suggest. I am, an extrovert, I tend to act before I think and I often find myself in the middle of fights because I just can’t stay quiet.
But despite all of that, despite the superficial similarities, despite the fact that many a Sorting Hat quiz has placed me in the house of Harry for years and years and years, I am not a Gryffindor, and it’s taken a lot of time for me to feel comfortable admitting this.
I’m a Hufflepuff, and I’m proud of it.
Maybe I wasn’t one in my teenage years. There is something to be said about sorting too soon, or maybe, something to be said about people not being just one thing, but an amalgam of stuff, good and bad. But I truly believe that, when it comes to me, the real Sorting Hat would have known, at eleven, twenty one, or thirty one.
I might have a little Gryffindor in me, but I belong in Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal.
But the real question isn’t where I belong – I’m sure of that now, the real question is why I have been, for so long, ashamed of speaking this truth out loud. Why have we been told that being just, loyal and kind is a weakness?
Why do we constantly put down the best of us?
No, I don’t have an answer for you in that regard, but I thought it was important to raise the question. In the Harry Potter series, Hufflepuffs are treated, by Harry and everyone else, especially Slytherins, as not the brightest. And yet, facts prove that isn’t true – Cedric was chosen to be the Hogwarts Champion in Goblet of Fire, and there are a number of Hufflepuff students, among them Ernie McMillan, constantly mentioned among the smartest in Harry’s year.
So, it’s not a matter of smarts. And yes, you might say, well, they’re not as brave as the Gryffindors, but is that reality? Maybe they’re just not as rash as the Gryffindors, which then again, no one is.
I always go back to the Battle of Hogwarts, to that moment where Prof. McGonagall tells the students who are over 18 that they can choose to stay or go. All Gryffindors stay. So do all Hufflepuffs. But they stay for different reasons.
Back when I first read this, I didn’t understand it, but later, it was that moment that made me understand who I really was.
Let’s look at this from the perspective that all students, in that moment, knew that staying was the best thing to do. Staying was the greater good choice. So, why did all Gryffindors stayed? Well, simple. They were too brave to leave. Their daring, nerve and chivalry sets Gryffindors apart, after all.
Why did Hufflepuffs stay, then? They stayed because they were too loyal to leave. Simple as that.
And, I keep thinking, faced with that situation, would I leave? I wouldn’t. Even if it was the smart play – half the Ravenclaws did leave. But I wouldn’t stay because I was brave, no. I would stay because I cared too much about people to leave.
Simple as that.
But, you know what I’ve learned in the years since I first read Harry Potter? I learned that the things that make me a Hufflepuff aren’t a weakness, they’re a strength. And maybe, I also learn to not just accept myself, but to love myself.
So, hi, my name is Lizzie and I AM a Hufflepuff. And a proud one at that.