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Featured,  Work & Life

Shifting Paths: Finding Balance After Burnout in a Global Pandemic

Country of Origin: Morocco

Ouled Teim with its fluttering palms, warm sunsets, and rustic charm is a three-hour drive south of Marrakesh. My story begins here in this beautiful Moroccan city.

sunset view of the beach and parking lot with palm trees lining the sidewalk

(Photo Courtesy of Cris Gr via Unsplash)

I obtained a master’s degree in environmental science, the crowning glory of my educational saga. However, with 2020 blindsiding us with the COVID-19 pandemic, what should have been my golden ticket to an environmental career eerily morphed into an uncertain labyrinth of jobless dreams. 

Unemployment engulfed me.

I could sense the early sightings of burnout emptiness, apathy, a heightened sense of fatigue punctuating a professional voyage that hadn’t even fully set sail. The slide was insidious, born from the gap between my academic efforts and the tumultuous career landscape suddenly deprived of stable moorings to help me practice my craft. 

Days of job hunting yielded nothing but monotonous echoes: “Redundancies.” “Cutbacks.” 

This constant friction between expectations and reality waged a quiet war within me. I saw my sharp optimism gradually erode into a savage fatigue stealing chunks from my life, all day, every day. This wasn’t just burnout, it was a thunderous crisis foisted into my lap by a nonchalant turn of events a world away.

Yet, inside me stirred a resolve—an unflinching beacon that reared and graced me with an epiphany in Albert Einstein’s words: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Emerging from the wreckage of my dreams, I realized there was a realm that remained vastly uncharted: e-commerce.

E-commerce, any online trading in goods or services, provided a realm where restraints felt invisible. The digital sphere knew no walls and oddly held an uncanny lure in a world crushed by a lethal rampage. It promised not just a way forward, but one that was forgiving despite the doom lingering out there.

Diving headfirst into the world of e-commerce (by selling craft notebooks online) was like dipping into a land of varied emotions. There were new skills to learn, codes to decipher, trends to understand, and apps to master. What initially seemed like an astronomical cavalcade of chaos was stepping towards orderliness. I started taking an immense interest in my work. 

Navigating this universe of e-commerce offered a peculiarly therapeutic fix to my burnout. It carved out a new rhythm into my life that gradually brought along melodies, balance, and harmony to stabilize my state of mind. Each day, the symptoms that once defined my burnout began dropping. 

a women's face in between a close up of green plants

(Photo Courtesy of  Alina Vilchenko via Pexels)

In the winding landscape that was my life’s narrative, these experiences bloomed into a lesson of timeless relevance. When faced with adversity or even root-level life change, it is crucial not to overlook the potential lying dormant within us. A capacity that enables us to redraw our life map when necessary. 

Indeed, resilience isn’t just about bouncing back; it also encompasses the flexibility to bend with the storm, and pivot and chart a new path when times demand. As I continue this perennial learning process, I am reflecting on my journey — glaring with trials, successes, and an adaptability that has become my most trustworthy weapon, one sharpened and weathered in the forge of my story of resilience.

My identity was never shackled to burnout, nor was it chained irrevocably to my academic field. It now stands as a tribute to human resilience, assuring others that while adversity hurts, it also teaches — and its lessons are etched in granite. As long as you are open to adapting, flexible enough to bend, determined enough to learn, and free enough to evolve, the world’s scenarios may test, but not uproot you. 

Finding flexibility in the face of adversity produces a rose among the thorns. 

Be brave enough to redraw your life’s landscape. 

Embrace change like a tavern friend, and guard your resilience like a precious bounty, for they alone can steer you through even the harshest of life’s challenging yet potentially rewarding pivot points.

Thank you to Tripti Mund and Yosef Baskin for their inspired edits on this piece and everyone else on the Work & Life team.

If you are interested in submitting a piece to the DG Sentinel, please visit our submissions page here.

Abdelwahed hails from Ouled Teima, the heartland of Morocco. Having dived into environmental science, he earned his masters in this discipline. However, the unanticipated havoc caused by the global pandemic forced a standstill in Ladham’s endeavors. Staring down burnout and diminishing prospects, he steered his career towards the thriving digital commerce industry. Presently, he wears multiple hats — game player in the e-commerce realm, constant learner, and topsy-turvy path blazer. Resilient, he navigates life’s maze carrying an unshakable spirit with lessons learned from overcoming adversity and embracing sweeping changes.

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