Last week, the kids and I took one of those Buzzfeed quizzes to find out which Hogwarts house we’d be in if we lived in Harry Potter World. Contrary to my prediction, Noah did not end up in Slytherin, but in Ravenclaw. Well, ok, he is really smart, I’ll concede. Violet was a Gryffindor. I have my doubts… she is pretty gentle and shy. Plus, she seemed to be picking her answers based on the last of the multiple choice offerings I read rather than what I feel like is true for her, but hey. She’s four. Hogwarts doesn’t even take kids until they’re 11, which I keep reminding Noah every time he asks if he’s a wizard or a muggle. I DON’T KNOW YET.
I was pretty convinced I was going to be put into Hufflepuff. I’m not conniving and dark like Slytherins, not exceedingly intelligent (not even kidding, I just misspelled intelligent) like Ravenclaws, and definitely not brave like Gryffindors. With a sigh I clicked the results button, saddened by my certainty that I’d be put into Hufflepuff, where all the dweebs go. I was shocked therefore, SHOCKED I SAY, when I was sorted into Gryffindor. I laughed aloud and Noah asked why I was laughing, and I said, “Me?! Gryffindor?! Buzzfeed is not the Sorting Hat, that’s all.” “Why?” he asked again. “I think you belong in Gryffindor.” “No way, I’m not brave at all. I’m scared of everything.”
Noah said, “I think you’re brave.”
Now, Noah’s not one to be, you know, nice. He’ll tell me like it is even when (especially when) that telling is painful. I often have to remind him that I’m actually a person with feelings and I cooked that “disgusting” dinner and no, I’m not getting fatter, actually, so I knew he was being honest. Even though I didn’t see it at the time, my son was looking at me and believing without question that I’m brave enough to belong in Gryffindor.
I had to give it some careful consideration. From his perspective, bravery means walking into a group of people I don’t know and introducing myself. It means going right up to the barista and telling him clearly that “I’d like a latte, please,” without hiding behind anyone’s legs. It means returning a “hello,” or saying “please” or “thank you.” Alright, I guess there’s some bravery there, even if just one point. Lance still doesn’t even like ordering a pizza over the phone, and he’ll look around online for 20 minutes in hopes of finding a way to get a half pepperoni/half cheese pie without actually having to talk to anyone.
Then I started thinking about how I spend my days, and I did begin to see myself through Noah’s eyes.
- I homeschool. I’ve been told point blank by many fellow parents that it takes balls to spend all day with my kids, let alone being responsible for teaching them how to, like, read and do math and stuff. Ok, point two. I guess that takes guts.
- I’m an actress. When I started thinking about my “acting career” (such that it is anymore), I gave myself some kudos. To get a job I have to go to auditions, stand up in front of a panel of judges, and sing a damn song! Alone! And then if I GET the job, I have to get metaphorically naked for an audience night after night. Ultimate exposure. Ultimate vulnerability. Arts careers (in particular theater) take guts, man. Alright, so that’s three things.
- I’m also a writer. And though letting people read what I’ve written can actually paralyze me with fear, I keep putting shit out there anyway, wanting and needing the connection it brings. Ok. That’s pretty brave, too.
- I express myself, like, a lot. A few days after the Buzzfeed quiz I was having drinks with a girlfriend, and she told me that she thought I was brave because I tell the people I love what I think, I say what I feel, I let my emotions show. Alright, I guess not everyone does that. Actually most people I know are pretty guarded. And when it came to expressing my feelings for individuals, I used to be pretty guarded too. Then, after the Orlando tragedy, I had multiple conversations with friends and family about putting yourself out there regardless of fear of fallout. Telling people you love them, not worrying about it being reciprocal, just being open and honest, is the most important thing. It changed me, it really did. It isn’t easy, it still frightens the living shit out of me, but now I do usually try to be honest and authentic with my feelings. I still have work to do in this area. But I get that being open and honest is pretty courageous.
So after all this, I was feeling pretty brave. I was nodding in the mirror, eyes narrowed, contemplative frown in place. Sure, I guess I belong in Gryffindor after all. I may not want to make my way through a dark maze full of dragons or duel Voldemort, but in the muggle world I do some brave things. [nod, nod, little self-satisfied smile, finger guns in the mirror]
I was feeling pretty cocky, y’all, and I can only say that my next actions were borne out of the need to prove myself. Looking back I don’t know what possessed me, I only know pride cometh before a fall and I did kind of deserve that fall, but nevertheless; you can’t change the past. Bravery and stupidity are closely entwined, after all. So here I stand, my pride gone, and only the truth remains: I did the bravest thing I’ve ever done last weekend.
I TOOK MY KIDS TO TRADER JOE’S ON A SUNDAY. BY MYSELF.
It was an act of pure self-sabotage, and I know now I aimed too high. I should have tested myself in smaller ways, you guys. Lion taming. Bear poking. Chasing a tornado, swimming in a lightening storm, eating blowfish. CHILD’S PLAY IN OTHER WORDS.
It’s ok. The tremors are almost gone by now, and with time and rehabilitation therapy I’ve been told I’ll be able to lead an almost normal life. After all, what is bravery really about but putting yourself out there, continuing on in the face of fear? And I can now say that I’ve done that.
So, fellow Gryffindors, I leave you with this. Let us each be brave in our own ways. Let us live open and honest lives, be genuine, express ourselves in loving kindness. Let us go to our jobs, meet friends, have conversations with family, with a sense of courage.
But let us not, no not ever, under any circumstances, attempt to go to Nashville’s most popular grocery store on the most popular grocery shopping day of the week. Now FIGHT ON, YE WARRIORS BRAVE!