The women's majlis: The key is to never give up

When you reach working age, in a time of what seems like constant change, it’s not uncommon to find yourself engaging in different interactions and activities.

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When you reach working age, in a time of what seems like constant change, it’s not uncommon to find yourself engaging in different interactions and activities than you’re used to. With this, though, comes a natural reaction, which is something I have experienced a lot since starting work – measuring ourselves against others.

Six years ago, I was a below-average student with little idea of what the future held. In the past year or so, however, I have started to find myself, and life has changed rapidly.

It all started last May, when I began working for the Federal Government and was nominated to join a local council authority. I took these jobs at the same time as applying for an internship abroad. My expectations of my life have now changed, and I’m living a different life. I went from being a self-conscious worrywart to a professional ­government worker who no longer sleeps in. Generally, I start my day at 6am and finish my first job about 2pm, then I head to council, where I stay until about 6pm. After this, I return home, most times without enough energy to even speak.

It’s funny how much I have changed. I was always quite a loner, but now I’m forced to meet, speak and negotiate with new faces of all nationalities, genders and statuses on a regular basis. For me, meeting women my age who have managed to achieve things I never thought of being able to achieve inspires me to grow. Some of my colleagues have their master’s. Others have travelled the world and taken part in several leadership and academic programmes, or are presidents of renowned clubs and societies. And here I am, a young Emirati woman who introduces myself as a new university graduate.

It’s daunting to be at this point, and it has affected me at times. In the first few weeks of my job, I felt like an outcast, foreign to the group of people around me. I saw myself as a commoner in the company of elites. But one night, I realised the jealousy and bitterness I felt were just ugly thoughts that didn’t do me any good. So I thought of something my dad used to say a lot: “As long as you try, you are still not over”. I have to remind myself often that I’m a young 22-year-old with my life ahead of me and it’s only me who holds me back.

Now, I continue my jobs, try to moderate the council’s heavy workload as best as I can with the widest smile possible, and I’m looking forward to my internship this month. And while some people may see me as a nobody with no achievements to brag about, to others, I’m more than that. The key is to never give up.

Alya Alzarouni is a graduate of the University of Sharjah and works for the UAE Federal Government.

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