I didn’t join Pottermore for the longest time. My relationship with Harry Potter was intense, but troubled. It oscillated between shameless joy and celebration to cheek-biting scrutiny and critique.
In one past life, I’d enthusiastically dressed up in costume and painted signs, windows, and children’s faces for the midnight releases at the bookstore. In another, I’d spent two semesters engrossed in academic study as I wrote a dissertation critiquing Rowling’s implicit versus explicit ideologies. (Seems pointless now. Ten years later and Tumblr has my thesis covered.)
Anyway, I finally joined Pottermore and had myself sorted. This seemed a needless formality. I was Ravenclaw. I knew it. I had always known it. I was a Ravenclaw, just like I was a Donatello and a Miranda and a George Harrison. There was no reason to doubt it.
In fact, since childhood, a very significant portion of my self-identification stemmed from this very assumption.
Lo, I am a Slytherin.
I stared at the screen in shock for several moments and then I told Husband, dismayed.
He replied: “J.K. Rowling wrote that, right? That means it’s canon. That’s, like, the definition of canon.”
I texted Dr. Roommate. If anyone had insight, it was a medical doctor / my former roommate. Her text back read: “That makes sense.”
What. What, what, WHAT.
How the hell did that make sense?
But the longer I thought about it, layers and layers of self-perception began to peel away. I began to look at not what I did, but why I did.
What had made me think I was Ravenclaw to begin with? Well, I was a bit of a swot and I loved to learn. But did I care about knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself?
I was forced to admit not really.
Rather, I realized that I am aware just how much knowledge there was in the world and I want it all. I want to know everything. I don’t learn something and think “Cute. Add that to the collection,” I think, “How can I use that?”
Even when I was a kid, more than learning things, I wanted to be seen as the “Smart Kid.” It was the one thing that came really easy to me and so that is what I focused on.
I had never thought it possible to be Slytherin because I never saw myself as ambitious. I had always viewed ambition on a macro scale. It was the determination to succeed and the willingness to go to any lengths to achieve that success.
That wasn’t me at all. I stuck with a job I settled with. I give up on things way too easily. When something is hard, I back away. Something in my mind simply shuts to it. I avoid, avoid, avoid.
But once I realized that ambition can also work on a micro scale, then it all snapped into place. Anyone who has ever worked with me in any capacity will realized just how over-the-top organized and perfection-driven I am with something I care about. I’m shrewd. And resourceful. And cunning? At times.
Suddenly, it made sense. It totally fucking did. I was never a Ravenclaw. I was a Slytherin and always had been.
There is a reason I quickly give up on things. It’s not laziness, it’s pragmatism. As soon as I think I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all.
When school got hard to manage, I closed down. I skipped class, I curled up until it went away. When film-making got too frustrating, I stopped doing it. There was something so deeply unsettling about watching dailies and realizing there were imperfections I was never going to be able to correct. I couldn’t handle that.
Perhaps that was why I retreated into writing. That, I could control completely.
And perhaps that is why I sit on so many drafts. If I don’t know how to make it perfect, I can’t let it go. And I can’t let it be anything less than perfect. I’m determined.
I’m a Slytherin.
Christ, I really am.