Chapter 22

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Alexander’s Confucius-style speech worked. The next morning, I woke up from a long slumber - and I mean that literally and figuratively.

You know it’s time to give the AP English classes a break when you wake up thinking figuratively.

Breakfast was an awkward affair that morning. It was a Saturday, which meant my parents were at home.  It was also only a week after I crushed their lifelong dreams, which meant my parents were oozing disgustingly fake cheerfulness while pretending there wasn’t a giant elephant of failure sitting in the room. Dad was, for the most part, still freezing me out. Mom had taken to tiptoeing around me whenever I was in the same room, like she thought I might run at her and take a chomp out of her leg. Oh yeah, and she hid all the knives when she thought I wasn’t looking.

“Nancy, it is just one rejection. Don’t do drastic thing, okay?” Mom told me patronizingly as she pretended not to stick the kitchen scissors in her pocket..

“Mom, I’m not going to stab myself.”

“I’m more scared of you stab me!”

It was good to know my parents always had my back. I wished we could just talk about my rejection over ice cream like a normal, healthy family would, instead of not-so-subtly hiding all the sharp objects in the house. My parents were some weirdly non-confrontational people.

It was just as well. The only thing I had on my mind that morning was getting my head back into a good place after my week of being in super-emo mode. Without once thinking about the monstrous pile of homework on my desk, I put on my headphones and began by writing out a list of all the things I liked about myself.


1. I have really sexy hair. Like, shampoo commercial-worthy. Garnier Fructis wishes they could get a piece of this.

2. I might not be good at the performance arts like my brother, but I’m proud to say I am a pro audience member. Show me to a seat in an auditorium and I’ll clap the heck out of my hands.

3. I can (almost) lick my elbows. I just need to save up to get a tongue extension is all.

4. My singing voice has been a very valuable alternative to fire alarms.

5. My bargain shopping skills are unparalleled, second only to my parents’. Thanks, Asian parents.

6. I can play the song ‘Chopsticks’ backward on the piano, and it is fantastic.

7. I am really good at bullshitting my way through the Mandarin language...

8. ...And feigning deafness. Works every time I can’t understand what someone is speaking at me in Mandarin.

9. I always win at rock-paper-scissors. Always. That dynamite move has yet to fail me.

10. I literally dressed up as the Greek goddess Athena a few Halloweens ago.

Depression set in when I realized how shallow my life appeared on paper. Making this list was a step in the right direction, though. A step toward self-acceptance, a step toward recovery. Letting my silliness out (discovering I even had silliness in me, actually) was like taking a deep, refreshing breath after a century of sleep.

So what if I hadn’t reached my goal this time? So what if I Harvard had rejected me? I was still the same person I was before. I was still Nancy Pang, math geek extraordinaire. On Monday, I was going to give my presentation on The Mathematics of Love and ace it.

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