Bushy-haired know-it-all. I’m not sure I’ve ever identified with a phrase more.
If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, this next paragraph has a lot of references, so bear with me. (I’m convinced the chemistry in your brain is imbalanced, but just bear with me.)
Hermione Granger is a badass. First off, the girl’s a genius. Without her, Harry and Ron would probably still be stuck in the Devil’s Snare from Sorcerer’s Stone, and Voldemort would be killing Muggles and Cruciatus-ing good guys until the cows came home. (Even if Harry had somehow weaseled out of the Devil’s Snare, he never could’ve beaten the Basilisk without Hermione’s clue. Or saved Buckbeak without her Time Turner. Or figured out where all the Horcruxes were without her research. And he definitely wouldn’t have remembered to pack his underpants for that Horcrux camping trip.) In addition to being the smartest witch of her age, Hermione’s not afraid to advocate for minority rights– go house elves!– and to top it all off, she’s Muggle-born. Hermione belongs to a race that the darkest wizard in history is actively trying to eliminate from the planet, but she’s too busy planning his destruction to really be bothered.
So if you’re not a HP fan, thanks for sticking with me there, that was a lot of fangirl-ing. But all of that was important in leading you to my next point: Hermione and I are soul mates.
We have a lot in common, most obviously, a head of hair which cannot be tamed. Hermione’s is most often described as “bushy” while I prefer to think of mine as “voluminous,” but I’m willing to bet we could share hair products. Sometimes Hermione rants about house-elves, sometimes I rant about feminism– safe to say we both have a lot of opinions and can make our closest friends wish for earplugs. She’s Muggle-born, I’m half-Jewish, so both our peoples have seen some struggle. But perhaps the biggest Hermione/Hannah similarity is what I have come to refer to as bushy-haired-know-it-all-syndrome– the pathological need to answer questions in class.
In high school, I tried very hard to avoid being That Girl. You know the one. Her hand shoots up after every single question the teacher asks, she’s way too into in that book the class is reading for English, her hair looks like a rodent could’ve gotten lost in it last week– basically, Hermione Granger circa Snape’s potions class for First Years.
I was wildly unsuccessful in avoiding this reputation.
Sure, in those useless classes like Physics and Chemistry I could zone out and appear confidently disinterested and not say things that made my classmates want to shove me into a trash can. But in English, History, Sociology, Contemporary Global Studies, even my Anthropology class– you know, those practical disciplines– keeping my hand coolly by my side seemed impossible. I couldn’t pretend that I wasn’t interested in class discussions, because I was. I couldn’t pretend I didn’t know the answers to the teachers’ questions, because a lot of the time, I did. If I had a dime for every time someone’s told me, “you’re like, the only person who talks in that class,” I’d have… about four dimes.
This exact phrase (recently uttered to me in a tone that either signified relieved gratitude or barely-masked hatred) led me to realize that the bushy-haired-know-it-all-syndrome has followed me to college. If anything it’s gotten worse, because now I’m exclusively studying those topics that I find to be most interesting. I think it’s important to mention though, in a class of 20-25 enthusiastic students, I’m just one in the bunch. Contrary to what you may have gleaned from this blog, I do have social skills, and if other people raise their hands, I’ll gladly sit back and listen. But in a class of 20-25 relatively uninterested people, most of whom are only taking Lit Analysis to satisfy a GenEd requirement, I may be a little on the outspoken side. (Especially because it’s Lit Analysis. Lit Analysis is my shit.)
Here’s the thing. Hermione Granger never feels ashamed for wanting to share her opinions. Why should I? Why do so many students– in high school and in college– feel like having something to say is somehow uncool? Hermione might annoy the crap out of Ron and Harry sometimes, but that girl gets things done. The Boy Who Lived and the wizarding world at large would’ve been toast if Hermione hadn’t spent all those hours in the library poring over Hogwarts, A History. She never stops fighting for what she believes in, even if it means looking like a bushy-haired-know-it-all.
Hermione is strong, she is brave, and she doesn’t apologize for raising her hand in class. Now there’s a magic that I’d like to practice.