A couple of weeks ago, at a group dinner at Max’s on Broad, the table discussed their Hogwarts house. I had two new friends guess mine.
“You’re a Hufflepuff,” my friend said with the confidence of a Gryffindor.
“Yeah, you’re definitely a Hufflepuff,” chimed in her Ravenclaw best friend.
“Excuse me?” I said. “A Hufflepuff? I am not a Hufflepuff.”
Now there is nothing wrong with Hufflepuffs. I might actually be one of the first people to argue this. Sara herself is a diagnosed Hufflepuff. They’re an undervalued part of the population. They’re patient, loyal, and hard workers. Probably Type A, though they’ve always struck me as a very type B house. But I am a self-declared Slytherin. Slytherins are not confused with Hufflepuffs. I dismissed my friends’ diagnosis as incorrect.
A while later, I hung out with the Gryffindor friend. Our houses came up again. “You’re a Hufflepuff, right?” she said.
“No, I’m a Slytherin,” I retorted. “I don’t know why you think that.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a Hufflepuff.”
“No one said there is.”
“But you’re definitely a Hufflepuff,” she added.
This characterization unsettled me. The next day I began Googling, “Slytherins are often confused for…” and “Why Slytherins are not Hufflepuffs.” I actually found a blogpost by a woman who had taken the Pottermore quiz and apparently been told at the end she matched for both houses. The Sorting Hat asked her which house she preferred. And she chose Slytherin. And that’s what makes her and anyone a Slytherin. Remember, even Harry Potter was asked whether he wanted to be in Slytherin – and he said no! A Slytherin chooses to be a Slytherin. Not anyone can be a Slytherin.
But, apparently, I’m not a Slytherin.
Because I decided to take the Pottermore test. My Gryffindor friend thinks the Pottermore test is the ultimate litmus test. It stands above Buzzfeed quizzes and Facebook questionnaires and, most importantly, friends’ slander.
The first question was, do I prefer the moon or stars? Difficult, but I chose stars. Notably, the word “stars” was displayed on a lighter-colored wallpaper compared to “moon.”
Then I was asked which pet I would bring to Hogwarts. Obviously, an owl. But that wasn’t the exact option. There was a white cat, a black cat, a tabby cat, a screech owl, a tawny owl, a snowy owl, a three-spotted toad, etc. Since I actually own a bird, again, obviously an owl. I would have chosen a gray owl, but snowy seemed the closest to this choice. I worried I’d be sorted into Gryffindor.
Another question asked, if I spoke to an oracle today, what advice would I hope to hear. Options ranged from “Yes” to “Forever” to “Follow me.” I chose, “Very soon.” I’m not sure what question I’d even ask the oracle, but I just liked that answer.
A gold screen popped.
“You’ve been sorted into…Hufflepuff!”
My world swayed.
Were my friends right? Was I wrong? How could I be a Hufflepuff? Yes, I’m a hard worker and somewhat loyal, but I value ambition and cunningness far above those things! I used to lie back in high school when I hadn’t owned up to my green-robed ways and say I was a Ravenclaw with Slytherin tendencies. At least give me that dignity. Let me be a Ravenclaw.
But a Hufflepuff?!
Could there be a further opposite from my true nature?
I’m a proud Slytherin. No Buzzfeed or Facebook quiz has ever suggested I hail from the House of Cedric Diggory and Nymphadora Tonks.
I’d been misdiagnosed.
“No, Pottermore is absolute,” my Gryffindor friend said.
“You only think that because you were sorted into Gryffindor!” I nearly shrieked. “This is a false positive!”
That night we ended up at dinner at La Grotta for Restaurant Week, along with my Ravenclaw friend’s husband – who dressed in a gold sweater. “Look, he’s wearing your house colors,” my Gryffindor friend said.
Shove it, I thought.
“What house are you?” I asked.
“Not Hufflepuff,” my friend’s husband said.
“Of course not,” I said. “None of us are.”
Gryffindor: “You are…”
“I’m a Slytherin,” he admitted.
“So am I,” I said.
Gryffindor: “No, you’re not.”
“I’ve been misdiagnosed,” I countered.
“But I actually think he may be a Ravenclaw,” Ravenclaw spoke up about her husband. “He’s too smart. He’s not a Slytherin. But Pottermore said he was.”
“Yeah, I think he’d be a Ravenclaw too,” Gryffindor said.
“So we admit the instrument may be flawed?” I said.
Gryffindor seemed reluctant to concede. “I have a lot of Hufflepuff friends,” she attempted.
“One of which is not me,” I replied.
The next day, my Gryffindor friend and I found ourselves grabbing coffee. I pressed, “Do you really think I’m a Hufflepuff?”
“Yeah,” she said. “Why don’t you think you’re a Hufflepuff?”
“Because I’m ambitious, and I don’t think emotions always matter, and I want to be a Slytherin. I think I am a Slytherin. I feel like that counts for a lot. I’m also really selfish.”
“See, I don’t think you’re selfish at all,” she replied. “You’re one of the most altruistic people I know.”
If asked to list defining traits, I would never put “selfish” at the top, but I recognize I do a lot of things for me. I travel for me. I go to movies by myself for me. I’m getting a PhD for me. I leave the bar when I want to because of me. I even question whether I should ever have kids (or get married) because I don’t want my life to become about someone else. Is that not what selfish is?
But I’m also driven by working for the common person. A lot of my volunteer activities center on advocacy and fundraising for a cause. I have taken the figurative bullet many times for the greater good. In the Battle of Hogwarts, the Hufflepuffs stayed until the end.
“And Hufflepuffs are super loyal and hard workers,” my friend reminded me. “You are the hardest worker I know.”
This was hard to challenge. Even I say I value myself for my productivity and efficiency. I am a workaholic.
But why did I want to be a Slytherin so bad? Was I a Hufflepuff!?! Am I that nice? That agreeable? Was I a badger (the Hufflepuff mascot)? In college, my friends did call me the Honey Badger.
And here's how this ends: I am agreeable. I began to think about this more. After all, the Sorting Hat diagnoses you with one plop on your head. Maybe I'm the Slytherin within the Hufflepuff House, but a Hufflepuff nonetheless. Maybe I am a badger. But at least I'm the honey badger.
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