Women’s News: Women And Stress: How A Layoff Led To A New Life In Morocco


The Huffington Post  |  By 

Londoner Karen Athwal, 25, had what she thought was her dream job and was building what seemed like her dream life — until she was blindsided by a layoff. Getting axed forced her to own up to the pressure she felt to appear perfect to her family and friends. It also propelled her to re-imagine her future — 2,000 miles away. Here, as part of our series on young women who dramatically changed their situations to live with less stress, Karen tells us her story.

I became the manager of a new makeup brand’s store in London in 2007 — I ran the day-to-day. I had been there for two-and-a-half years and thought I was going to stay there awhile. The owner and I had regularly talked about it. But three months after I began renting an expensive apartment, I got a phone call. The London office wasn’t making [enough]. My boss said, “I’m sorry, Karen. There’s no longer a position here for you.”

I was literally shattered. I found myself in a brand new apartment with really high rent that I realized I could no longer pay. I didn’t want to admit I was failing, that I had lost this high-flying job. For three months — three months — I paid rent that I could not afford because of my stupid pride. Finally, I called up my mom and dad, who also live in London, and I was like, “Look. I’m going to have to move back in with you.” It’s a horrible feeling. You’re moving forward, and suddenly it’s all taken away from you.

I looked for work for 18 months. I didn’t have any money coming in, and I could not afford to go out with my friends. I was alone. The pressure started to show. I developed acne all over my face, out of nowhere. I started losing weight as well. I had [spent time] in Marrakech [Morocco] before, and I had a little bit of savings left. I thought, “Look, I can either be really sad and depressed here, or I can take a month out, relax, and get myself together.” My boyfriend was living there, too.

When I came back, I trained as an English language teacher, but I still wasn’t getting anywhere. Then one day I was surfing the net, and I came across a job in Marrakech, as an English teacher and nanny to a small girl. I moved there in August 2011, and I stayed with that family for three to four months until I came across another opportunity, writing content for an online magazine and travel guide. Three weeks later I was hired. It seems as though when I really push myself out of my comfort zone — when I just go for it — things develop from there.

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  1. I loved reading the full story of this. It is a very inspiring story. Thanks for posting it!

  2. Inspirational–thanks for posting

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