When Harry Potter enters Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry he is required to wear a magical hat that will determine which school house he belongs to based on his personality and his strengths etc He is ‘sorted’ into Gryffindor house, a house known for courage, chivalry and daring do. As far as I am concerned it is the best house to be in and since the first wondrous moment that I picked up a Potter book I have been convinced without a shadow of a doubt that I too am a Gryffindor. My colours are red and gold, I have to contend with a portrait of a fat lady to enter my home and I heroically battle trolls in my spare time.
Nineteen years on from my first encounter with Harry, Ron & Hermione I find myself having a colourful discussion with a group of friends who have all undergone the official Sorting Hat test on Pottermore. They all know which house they belong in and refuse to accept that I am Gryffindor until I have had it verified by the J K Rowling approved test. Smugly sitting down with my laptop I proceed to answer the complex list of questions, ‘I’ll show them,’ I think to myself, ‘they’re just jealous that none of them are Gryffindor like me.’
A bright yellow fills the page and a cute badger stares unblinkingly back at me. Huh. Turns out I’m a Hufflepuff. Hufflepuff is the nice house i.e the boring house. Hufflepuffs value inclusivity, hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty and fair play. They aren’t brave or chivalrous or daring doers. I can’t quite bring myself to admit that The Sorting Hat has it spot on – I am all of those things but, ever the stubborn mule, I still think he has it wrong!
All this got me thinking. Coming to terms with being a Hufflepuff is much like coming to terms with being given an MS diagnosis. Being a Hufflepuff and being a person who has MS is not how I see myself; it’s not the life I had planned. But somewhere along the line I have been ‘sorted’ into these camps. One imagines an invisible Sorting Hat when it comes to medical conditions. ‘Hmmm, yes, you are far too active, let’s knock you down a peg or two and give you Multiple Sclerosis.’ Or, as I prefer to think, ‘Mmmm, you are clearly of the most heroic nature, let’s give you something that will really challenge you, let’s give you MS.’
We’re not always the person we think we are or indeed want to be. I can huff and puff all I like about being a Hufflepuff, but as I sit here coming to terms with the thought of myself wearing a yellow and black scarf I can’t help feeling a small sense of pride. The world needs Hufflepuffs just as much as it needs Gryffindors. Perhaps I can even be both. After all, facing MS is a bit like facing He Who Must Not Be Named…
…and my wand is, as ever, at the ready.