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  • The Archer

Troll In The Dungeon

"TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!" exclaims Professor Quirrell on Harry's first Halloween at Hogwarts. A troll in the dungeon is a problem as trolls are large, strong, and stupid which, as we learned from Crabbe and Goyle, is a very dangerous combination. Luckily the combined 2 months of magical education possessed by Harry, Ron and Hermione at the time are enough to knock the troll out quickly and safely. This episode previews many future episodes the three of them will have together where a mixture of nerve, luck, and whatever they happened to be learning twenty minutes earlier will save their lives.

A troll in the dungeon is an imposter. Hogwarts is home to many fascinating creatures but trolls are not included in that mix because they are not welcome at Hogwarts. I think in some ways we all have times in our lives where we feel like the big dumb troll in the dungeon. Imposter syndrome is defined as: "an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be." In layman's terms, or how I understand that, is that no matter where you are you secretly believe that you are the troll in the dungeon and that if anyone finds out that you're there they will shove a wand up your nose before you can say troll boogies.

The problem is that, even though you know you're at worst a troll and at the very best, a despised ghost, everyone around you treats you like a student or even a celebrated professor. At least if people screamed at the sight of you, you would be living your truth. Instead you are waiting constantly for them to notice that the new Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher is actually a hideous and idiotic troll.

Harry actually experiences this sort of imposter syndrome a few times. While watching his classmates get sorted into houses (#JusticeforSallyAnnePerkins) Harry imagines that Professor McGonagall will lower the hat on to his head and that the hat will fall silent and McGonagall will tell Harry that there was a terrible mistake and he must return to Privet Drive because he does not belong at Hogwarts.

Let's look at the facts: Harry knows he is magical. Hagrid's pronouncement of his wizarding heritage only confirmed everything he already knew about himself-his ability to grow his hair inches overnight, fly to the top of the school roof without effort, speak to snakes, make glass disappear and reappear, and make a hideous shirt of Dudley's shrink as it was going over his head. Despite all of this evidence, and the fact that at this point Harry had met other children who also were unaware of their magical abilities until they received their letters, Harry still carries a fear in his heart that this is all a hoax and he will be sent away in disgrace.

Which would suck because he carries the fate of the wizarding world on his tiny eleven year old shoulders.

Even once Harry gets sorted into Gryffindor and starts to discover that he's decent-to-average at magic, he still assumes minor infractions will have him sent home. When he chases Malfoy by broom to retrieve Neville's rememberall, and is caught by McGonagall, he also begins to pack his bags in his mind and is even more shocked when she doesn't expel him or even beat him with a wooden cane, but instead instates him to the Quidditch team.

I wonder if after his 6 years of magical education and one year where he played truant and saved the entire world cured Harry of his feeling like the unwanted troll in the dungeon. I like to think that in Auror training as the instructor asked them to hold more than 4 spells in their brains at once, Harry once again imagined himself as an eleven year old who was only one tiny infraction or lapse away from being sent back to live in a dusty cupboard where no one cared whether he was happy or not.

Because that's how I feel a lot of the time.

I've been reading up on Imposter Syndrome recently and finding a lot of peace knowing others on the internet have similar feelings to mine. There was a tweet that went around recently that said something along the lines of "Who else assumes every time their boss wants to see them that they are getting fired only to discover he needs you to reschedule a meeting?"

I think as Millennials/Gen Z'ers who came of age in a stinky job market that only gets stinkier and a world that feels like it could be pulled out from under us at any second we are all waiting to be told that we don't deserve our jobs/friends/lives and that they will be going to the people who really do soon and that we are being reassigned to the lives that we really deserve where we live under stairs in a dungeon.

I have to remind myself constantly that I am good at my job. That I kind of know what I am talking about sometimes and even when I am bullshitting that's ok because I got a degree in bullshitting. (All business degrees other than accounting are just degrees in bullshitting.)

This gets even harder in the dating world. I have to put my best foot forward and date as if I am not a troll who is trying to trick a man into being with me.


What I mean is, we all have our stuff. I happen to possess amazing instincts for people and therefore can usually tell within a few minutes if someone has potential for a long term relationship with me or not. Because of this, I haven't dated many guys past a third date and have never gotten to get over the nagging feeling that when I finally do get close to someone they are going to discover that I am a troll and run away screaming.

There's another popular meme that portrays a couple saying their wedding vows in front of a priest when the bride stops the ceremony to just confirm again that the groom actually likes her and isn't faking it.

Harry Potter, the savior of the entire world feels this way. Most people my age who make memes and post them on the internet feel this way. Granted, that is a very depressed subset of the population but still.

Harry eventually grows out of this feeling and begins to experience his true self-the courageous, nervy, and loving man he needs to be to defeat Voldemort.

He recognizes that he has a job that only he can do and learns to ask for help at the same time (though he always struggles with asking for help.) He moves forward with his task no matter how uncomfortable and overwhelming it gets. He realizes that without him it's all over.

We are each a universe onto ourselves and we each have something to do. The troll in the dungeon isn't us-it's the voice we have that tells us that we are in no way equipped to do anything. Having a voice doesn't make you a voice, it makes you human.

The hard part is coming back to the same task over and over again-for me that's dating and trying to believe that I will eventually find love-and not allowing the repetitive result-the dates that go badly-to convince me that I am a troll. I am not a troll. I have a troll. His name is Jgwrbhjl.

Luckily I get practice every time I convince myself that my boss isn't texting me to tell me I'm fired. Or that one friend feeling angry at me doesn't mean that all my friends are paid off by some Archer Lobby to be friends with me so I stop whining so much.

I have to hope that I will one day get married and will not wake my husband up at 4 am to ask if he still likes me. But even if I do, he'll hopefully know about my troll.

He'll have one too.

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