What It Means To Be A Hufflepuff

Photo courtesy of Alexandria Pallat

You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal.
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil…
- 1991 Sorting Hat’s song, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The stone façade reads Kings Cross in giant silver lettering, and I hand the attendant my ticket before I make my way through the line. Stacks of suitcases greet guests, and as I make my way up the stairs, one trunk in particular grabs my attention. A snowy white animatronic owl sits in a cage atop it, while the initials HP stare at me from the side. The sight and sound of the re-created scarlet steam engine set off tears of childish excitement, and I can no longer contain myself. Wand in hand, House pride shirt on, I board, ready for my adventure, ready to be completely immersed in the only story I have ever called home.

Walking through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando is nothing short of glorious. Although there are three rides available throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, it’s more of an immersive experience, and it’s not at all done lightly. Guests of all ages dressed in House robes, carried wands and partook in the magical interactive moments with shop windows. I overheard a lot of wonderful conversation about the series (including one little girl knowingly explaining information to her mother), and I even politely cut in on some of those conversations to join their discussion. I even overheard a conversation about why you would want your doctor to be a Hufflepuff over a Ravenclaw. The biggest thing I noticed was that it was a safe space to love this series, to show reverence for something so loved, and to have conversations one may be embarrassed to have elsewhere. It was a safe space to be yourself.

When I first joined Pottermore, I wanted so badly to be a Gryffindor, and it’s not hard to see why. After all, our favorite heroes hail from that very House. As I became more immersed in the story, however, and I came to terms with my own character traits (and, honestly, hated my original Patronus), I realized I was not truly a Gryffindor. I deleted my Pottermore account to create a new one, one that might better represent me. This time, I was sorted into Hufflepuff.

Admittedly, I was disappointed at first. “Imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?” Draco Malfoy remarked to Harry in their first meeting at Madam Malkins in Diagon Alley. This simple and snide comment shows no one thinks highly of Hufflepuff House. Some people even take Helga Hufflepuff’s idea to “teach the lot and treat them just the same!” as a way of saying those individuals simply don’t hold any special qualities.

But I beg to differ.

After reading more about Hufflepuff on Pottermore, I began to embrace my House, which meant I also began to embrace myself. Being a Hufflepuff does not mean you don’t have any other traits to consider. It means your special qualities — what you most value, what you are above all else — is loyal, patient, and true.

I like to think of myself as a very loyal person. There are those who have insinuated that I am loyal to a fault. When I give myself to you, in any type of relationship, I am all in, and you will have me forever. While I dislike conflict, I am “unafraid of toil” in that I feel resilient enough to move forward while still keeping myself (and those Hufflepuff character traits) intact.

That isn’t to say I perfectly embody Hufflepuff, and I’m sure no one perfectly embodies their House (except maybe Harry himself). The trait I struggle the most with is patience, and I think that’s something everyone struggles with at one point or another. I used to have to plan everything in order to feel confident or content about moving forward, which left little room for others to move or for situations to change. These past months, however, have taught me that patience is my most valuable muscle, and it’s one I need to continue to flex in order to develop it.

My mother has something she likes to tell me when I am struggling for patience: “Never ask God for patience, because He won’t just give it to you.” In other words, patience is something that is honed as a trait, not something we, even as Hufflepuffs, will automatically have. Instead, it is something we must continually choose to have, even in difficult or stressful situations.

Photo courtesy of Alexandria Pallat

One of the things I have always found interesting about Hufflepuff House is that the House ghost is the Fat Friar. I’ve always wondered about him, and, as a Christian, I wondered what qualities he may have possessed that made him not only a Hufflepuff but also a Friar. According to his feature page on Pottermore, he was genial in life, healing muggles of pox and pulling rabbits out of the Communion cup. These characteristics tell me that Hufflepuff House is a House of people who seek to help others and make the world a better place with the abilities they have been given. Pottermore explains the importance of the Hufflepuff traits in a special feature article, even including beloved Nymphadora Tonks and Cedric Diggory.

Each of the four Houses has their own merits (I’m sure, should they choose, the Slytherins could use their cunning for good instead of evil), but Hufflepuff House is, to me, the house of good people. Yes, some could be pompous (like Ernie MacMillan), and they were often deemed the underdogs, but they were good people. I actually think the reason I wound up in Hufflepuff was because of my response to the question “what would you least like to be known for?” I chose selfishness. If this answer is what solidified my place in a particular House, then being a Hufflepuff is about being there for others.

All in all, being a Hufflepuff is about having a good heart, and that is all I’ve ever wanted to be known for.