How Getting Sorted into Slytherin Helped Me Be More Ambitious
Growing up with Harry meant that I derived a lot of my sense of identity from the Harry Potter series. It was an absolute privilege to be able to hold the likes of a headstrong Hermione Granger and a badass Ginny Weasley as my role models. So you can imagine my plight when I got Sorted into Slytherin. Every. Single. Time. (Don’t lie – I know you took the Pottermore quiz multiple times too.)
If I am being completely honest, the green banner did not elicit much joy. All negative connotations of the House aside, I really couldn’t understand how a meek little introvert like myself fit the vibe. One of the key traits of Slytherin is ambition, which has always seemed to me like something reserved for the ultra-confident golden kids of the batch. I just did not feel worthy of it.
Almost a decade after I was first Sorted into Slytherin, I was willing to admit I’d grown into a resourceful and determined individual (okay, maybe even a tiny bit cunning). But I still struggled with the A word. Then one day, I found myself utterly anxious about accepting a huge opportunity simply because it was too cool to be true. You see, over the years, I had developed this toxic habit of shooting down my own hopes before anyone else could, which is why my mind was busy spinning stories of how I was bound to fail.
But a true Slytherin would never turn away from an opportunity as awesome as this.
At that moment, I looked at this House quality not as fun Potter trivia but as a part of my identity. Was I really unambitious, or had I become an expert at stifling myself? The answer was crystal clear. The closeted Slytherin in me was becoming more and more evident in the smallness I felt with every passing opportunity. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go after great things – because I wanted to badly – but I was afraid of falling short. What if I didn’t have what it takes?
It took me a while to realize that ambition is much more than just the greed that we commonly associate it with. It is the audacity to step out of your comfort zone and strive for more. While you may not have it all figured out at this moment, ambition gives you the confidence to adapt and learn along the way. Of course, unchecked ambition is toxic, but its complete absence only invites lethargy and envy. To be honest, if it weren’t for the vision of some shamelessly ambitious inventors, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the luxuries that sit in the palms of our hands today. Ambition is the creative fuel that drives the world.
So what if I let myself lean into my Slytherin side?
Well, if the Sorting Hat deemed me fit for this House, then as a devout Potterhead, I obviously fully accept its verdict. Who am I to argue with the wisdom of this all-knowing magical artifact (and the Pottermore algorithm)?
To be put with the likes of Merlin himself is quite a responsibility, but maybe I am more Slytherin than I often allow myself to be. Now, every time I feel that familiar feeling of wanting to run the hell away, I repeat in my head “I am a Slytherin” like a mantra to remind myself of the values that it stands for. It has given me the strength to take some chances that normally I wouldn’t even dare to consider. If I am blessed with the honor of belonging to this great House, I have to live up to its legacy (minus all the racism and murder, of course).
You don’t have to accept every opinion and label given to you, nor should you box yourself into it. We get to pick and choose what we internalize into our identity, so why not choose what serves us the best? Whether you are a Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff, all those identities come with some really cool traits that we can draw from. It might take me a while to shed years worth of accumulated self-doubt, but my House identity has helped me start to see myself differently. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
One thing’s for sure. I am done being a bad Slytherin.