A short story by Sophia camper Ella Friedman
This is the story of a girl who was able to conquer the hard times we have also faced or will face in life…the struggle of finding yourself and who you are.
* * *
“And you, Sophia?” I heard a slight sound familiar to the name I was given at birth, so I popped my head up from my desk out of curiosity.
“What, huh?” I looked around to see who said that and why they said it.
“Well? What’s your answer Miss Eden?” as she pointed to the board gesturing towards where I should be looking. Sadly I didn’t know the answer, or even get the question, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of over 30 people and a well educated teacher. Well, maybe it’ll be fine if I play it cool and admit to not knowing.
I must have convinced myself that she would not hear me and let it go if I said it soft enough, but that didn’t work, so I had to repeat myself and say it louder. “I don’t know” I tried to say louder, but still mumbled. At first the class was completely silent, probably waiting for the teacher to say something, and she just said “well, you would know if you had paid attention” and took a pause before going back to teaching.
Half the class was laughing and half the class was oohing. My face was red and felt weird from trying to strain my eyes from breaking out in tears. I plopped my head back down to doodle some things I’ve been drawing lately, almost unconsciously. These doodles have been coming to mind after I went to a lecture the other night and heard about the personalities of the elements. It’s kinda cool actually, the Ayurvedic teaching of the elements relates specifically to you and yet still relates to literally everyone else in the world. At the lecture they said you usually have traits of only up to three of the elements, but I think that’s to make people with only that many feel good about themselves, considering I related to all five. Either that or I was different from everyone else. Anyways, I’ve been drawing fire and water, stuff like that.
* * *
I was in the middle of a conversation with my best friend, Megan, when the bell rang for the end of school, and Megan stood up like she was staring into the face of death and started to walk out of the class, when she said bye over her shoulder really fast, and I said it back. Megan was such a type A personality. Every one and thing had to be perfect and on time, like what she was just doing. She had soccer practice and couldn’t be late, because she wanted to get the most out of her lesson.
I stood up and casually walked out of the classroom, smiling and waving to the teacher as we both uttered the word “bye” at the same time. After I left the school I headed straight to the park.
* * *
I sat down, swiping my hands under my pants so when I landed on the dirt it would be smooth. I gently placed my head onto the side of the tree and breathed out to relax.
I took out my phone and earphones, so I could listen to some music. I popped the shuffle button of my music, closed my eyes, breathed a long breath in and out, and looked around at all the nature. It was calming here, I truly felt alive, besides when I was doing something useful. It’s weird how I like to do completely different things and yet they merge to make, well, me!
* * *
“Well, does anyone know what they are?” the teacher looked in the eye of random people in the class hoping one of them would share.
The teacher was teaching us about how there are the five elements – fire, water, space, air, and earth – and how they can relate to the “dosha” or personality traits of people. Fire (Pitta) dominant people enjoy an efficient metabolism and a hearty appetite. They are also considered intelligent, aggressive achievers. Space and air (Vata) dominant people are quick, alert, and restless. They can walk, talk, and think quickly. As for water and earth (Kapha) dominant people, they are also leaders, and are strong but loving, tenacious but calm, and blessed with wise tolerance.
A girl I had seen around school a lot raised her hand and said “I am fire and space,” with confidence.
“Well, sure. Does anyone else think they are THREE or more?” no one raised their hand so I did and said “I think I relate to all of them, but I’m not really sure,” and I waited for a response.
“Well that’s great. There aren’t that many people like you, but it proves how much of a leader you can be if you put your mind to it.” A true leader will possess the gift & ability to see and relate to things from many different perspectives.” She glanced at me and smiled then looked at the rest of the class. “Well, maybe we could learn a thing or two from her.”
* * *
“Hi, my name is Sophia Eden, and I’m both a journalist and female rights activist. I visit countries around the world and write stories that shine the spotlight on things that are unfair and unjust. My hope is that by bringing these things to light through my journalism, I can help solve the problems that war and the devastation that comes with it brings, especially to women and children. Do you know how I accomplished all this? I worked hard and learned from my failures and struggles and I celebrated my successes. I knew what it took to be a leader, and I accepted that being a leader meant that I had to be true to myself and the things I believed in this world – and then I used that knowledge and experience to help others.”
The applause brought a smile to my face, because I finally knew how to lead others and embrace myself.
* * *
Ella is at middle school in Orange County & attended our Sophia Camp in 2014. She is a writer who has published numerous science fiction stories online.