God forbid, if you show promise, worse if you are actually talented. For the pressure to succeed from within as well as from those around you is overwhelming to say the least. You’re constantly told to practice, stay humble, never lose direction, and most of all, never lose self-belief. As a super achiever friend once said, it doesn’t take much for talent and accomplishments to feel like an ill-fitting halo – one misstep and it slips, leaving you exposed to the hasty judgements and misplaced sympathies of the so-called well-wishers. History is full of stories of fallen stars, their glow shrouded by the darkness of failure.

But for Azeizah Ahmed Alhassani, the first Emirati woman engineer onsite at the unconventional fields of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in the UAE, who is also an accomplished artist and a sportsperson, being successful is a way of life, and failure is not in her DNA.

In the interview, the 27-year-old says that she grew up in an environment where doing her best and realising her potential irrespective of the privileges of birth she enjoyed, was a given. And those expectations did not weigh her down but gave her wings. Passionate in all her pursuits, Azeizah is an example of how having the right ecosystem to grow is sometimes not enough; hard work and perseverance are vital too.

Douglas Stuart, the Booker Prize winner for 2020, however, has a different narrative. Having lived a brittle childhood where he had hunger and despair as companions, Douglas was never expected to excel. But he did. And in two diverse fields – one as a fashion designer and now as a writer. Proving again that hard work and perseverance pay rich dividends.

And a never-say-die spirit helps too.

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