Nature or Nurture- Are we born to achieve?

Now to the the age old argument?

Are we as Lady Gaga says “Born this way”?

So here’s my story:

I was born to a middle-class nuclear family in the “third-world”. Premature by an undetermined time (medicine wasnt was it is these days) Did my drive start since the womb? I mean I kicked my way out early.My parents were both University graduates from prestigious North American universities. My older brother was a regular child too just like me. We were exposed to everything from camping to culture and cuisine that you wouldn’t expect your typical baby to be eating. We began travelling before we could walk and within the first 3 years of life visited more countries than many people see in a lifetime. After brief stint in the developed world of Canada, we settled back in the developing world- both my parents had good jobs and we were given house and car and my brother and I were placed in one of the country’s top preparatory schools. Prior to entering school, I was placed in a Pre-school where I was ahead of my class- they would give me the newspaper to read in order to keep me occupied. My brother who was also ahead of the game, so much so he got bored with menial tasks that were given to the other children in class and either made up his own or decided to help the other kids-whether by force or coercion.

Mental Moment :

How much is genetic predisposition an attribute to achievement? Do overachievers only come from families that overachieve? In the process of natural selection, as the strongest genes get passed down to the newer generation are those who come from sterotypically successful parents destined to be successful? Does that mean persons who dont come from fortunate circumstances have to work harder to be successful?

Back to businesss…..

During my years in school I was involved in everything. Swim team, dance, piano, choir, outreach groups. From a very young age I emerged a “leader” – I was either First or second place in my class academically. At the annual prizegiving, I always won prizes for French or Dance, and my annual report card always had good grades- except for handwriting. My parents always let us try whatever we wanted to try, I wanted to dance so I began ballet at the age of 4. My brother played every sport available. Neither of us were necessarily the best, but we were pretty good at everything we did. We both held distinctions for Piano and for me in Ballet and my brother was even awarded as Deputy Head Boy of our Preparatory School and a full scholarship to high school.

High school proved no different for me. I became President of a club upon entering, started organizations, was a prefect, continued with ballet and musical theatre and still remained academically sound. I assumed I was the typical teenager, with the hormones leading to fleeting love interests, temper tantrums and moodiness, but it never seemed to affect my drive.  It didn’t help that I was placed in a school that was highly competitive. I sat in the same chair as many great men/women who had passed through the gates and gone on to make their mark on the world. What was it about the water, or the non-de-script bun that we all consumed that made us hungry to make a difference?

Mental Moment: 

Parents fought tooth and nail to get their children into specific high schools. Similarly, certain preparatory schools were feeder schools to specific high schools. Do we push to surround ourselves with people who have this sense of achievement? Does it form an individuals perspectives and motives to be immersed in environments that promote excellence? Can an individual excel if not in these environments?

By the age of 17, I had visited over 10 different countries, was adequate in 3 languages, had organized national events and represented the country in regional scholastic competitions. I assumed I had a social life, as I frequented the sweet 16s and parties that my peers attended. My parents had given up on a bedtime at a relatively early age and so I had mastered the art of all-nighters. I had taught myself the art of sponsorship letters, using computer design tools and was very quick at figuring out how to navigate the computer and internet.

After high school, well just before upper 6th(13th grade), I decided to go on an adventure. I was awarded a scholarship to the Mahindra United World College of India for 2 years pursuing the International Baccaleareate. This school  (group of schools) prides itself of fostering leadership and creating global awareness

“The striking thing about UWC is that they embrace the entire world across all divides of race, history, culture, wealth, religion, economic status and political belief: they are unique and they are conscious of their responsibilities.” ——-Nelson Mandela, Honorary President

What better school to attend to incubate the already festering disease of overachievement. These schools took the cream of the crop from rigorous national selections done throughout the world and put them to live together for 2 years!  For these 2 years, I shared Maggi Noodles with friends from Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Maldives. Learnt to bargain in Hindi, slept on train floors, saw the Taj Mahal and Mount Everest. I directed and choreographed a musical, flew to the Netherlands for a Tsunami release conference, taught aerobics, learnt Bharatnatyam. I can curse in 10 languages, learnt about first hand about Palestinian/Israeli conflict from both sides, discovered that the Maldives exists and doesnt have dogs. Also, Hirsoshima and Nagasaki are NOT types of Sushi!!!

The IB system required community service as a component which in some essences forced us all into a mould of becoming these global citizens who can/will change the world!

If I was ever an overachiever- this experience made me at the top of my game!!

I was then given a full scholarship to a North American university! How much better can I get! I was on the road to success.


Looking at all the elements combined above- the stable family; good, encouraging parents; world class institutions; Has the world always been in my favour? Was it always just good timing or was this a prenatal disposition that I was doomed to have?

This whole thing may make me seem super self-centered! You may have already started to hate me and become angry but the truth is I”m trying to understand what my life has led me to, why my life has taken me down this path.

Share your experiences, thoughts, words of inspiration and even hate mail! It will help me if there are other out there like me. SOS.


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