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szdaily -> Budding Writers -> 
My ‘hapless’ life
    2018-03-21  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Qianyu Ann Nie, Emma Willard School

In “Wild,” Cheryl hears Sam suggest that her trial name should be “Hapless Hiker,” a name she appreciates but not necessarily embraces. “Hapless” means “without hap,” “hap” being another word for “fortune” or “luck.” “Hap” is derived from the Old Norse word for “good luck.” Describe a time when you felt “hapless.”

In the middle of this normal school day’s night, sitting at a desk with a daylight-colored lamp blinding my eyes and a brick-liked history textbook laying open with nonsense scribbles, I came to the epiphany that my life is hapless.

I reflected on my past 16 years — I was in China, the U.S., then China, then the U.S. again. I have flown over the Pacific Ocean so many times that I stopped collecting the flight tickets. There were just simply so many of them, and I know there will be more. The thing loses its value when the supply increases. I guess it is called “deflation” in economics. Two years ago, my two suitcases and I landed on this continent so far away from home, with excitement and hope and anxiety. My parents were hoping that this country could do their job of educating and transforming me to someone who can eventually get into one of the Ivy League schools. It seemed to them that once I got there, I would be on top of the pyramid and life will be like walking down the red carpet at the Golden Globes.

Reality slapped me across the face on the first day after arriving at my new school. I was having trouble using a fork and knife in the dining hall while trying to keep up with the conversation of my peers about this cartoon they watched that I had never heard of. Smiling is the best facial expression that humans ever created. When there are over 6,000 languages in the world, there is not a single culture in which smile does not represent happiness. None that I could think of, but I could be wrong due to my ignorance.

If I ever have the chance to become a college professor of international relations, the first class I teach will be “Smile and Diplomacy.” It turned out that I survived my first few weeks by smiling through the classes and any interaction with my American classmates.

All along I knew it would be hard. But that feeling of dragging out every single word with my brain functioning hyper-fast like a super computer was just unprecedentedly tiresome and depressing. A person can feel sympathy for me, but they will never understand me until they go out and experience choking on a foreign language. It was around that time I had the so-called epiphany that my life is hapless. Hapless is an interesting word, because hap means luck and luck is something that is unpredictable. This sense of uncertainty of the future was my faith, my religion, and my motto during my first few months in this country.

I woke up every day hoping that it will get better, and that luck will pay me a visit today. And it did. At first, once or twice a week I said “pardon me,” and my friends then explained it to me in simpler words; then it became frequent visits, and the accumulation of vocabulary grew exponentially from day to day.

If there is any lesson you can take away from this story, well, here is the full version of my epiphany: Life is not doomed from the very beginning. It may be hapless currently, but you never know when you will be lucky or unlucky. The only thing you can do is to stay strong and wait for luck to stop by your door.

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