In first grade, I arrived at my suburban elementary school as a sort of academic vaudeville trickster. My classmates stood speechless as I absorbed thick tomes on mediaeval history, wrote and presented research reports, and breezed through fifth-grade maths problems like a bored teenager.
My teachers anointed me a genius, but I knew the truth. My non-Asian friends hadn't spent hours marching through the snow, reciting multiplication tables. They hadn't stood at attention at the crack of dawn reading the newspaper aloud, with each stumble earning a stinging rebuke. Like a Navy Seal thrown into a pool of raw conscripts, at six, I had spent much of my conscious life training for this moment.