The number of books about changing careers available at Barnes and Noble is staggering. If you go online to Amazon dot com, the number probably quadruples. Googling for articles on switching careers brings up countless results. There are tons of books aimed at young people for choosing a life path. There are even more books about how to throw away the career you hate and find something that makes you happy. You know what nobody writes about? Leaving the career you love and finding something that makes you equally happy.
I'm not ready to give up zoo keeping just yet. I plan to return to work on January 6 and give it my all. I've been stretching and working out my feet and legs. I've even been doing upper body workouts to regain some of my strength after more than two months off. I can't wait to get back to the animals! However, I have had a LOT of time to think during my break. I have to force myself to be realistic. Surgery was my last option. One of the reasons I put it off so long was because I was so scared it wouldn't work. And then what? Then quit zoo keeping. Sigh. I would like to be a zoo keeper until I die. However, I would prefer to live to be 85, not 42! I can't spend another 3 years being in nonstop pain and having my feet control every aspect of my life so I can keep a dead-end job that doesn't even pay well. Even if I do love that job... And so I go, round and round, back and forth, what if this, what if that. Nothing can just be easy! Maybe my feet will heal completely and I will be fine, but I doubt it.
I'm going through a mourning process that it seems like only I can understand. Am I being ridiculous? Of course! Do I know that many, many people have it worse than me? I do. Still, it makes me sad and angry that I'm being sidelined by a condition that a huge percentage of the population has experienced and then gotten over. I'm not a wimp, but I can't handle the pain. A while back I passed a billboard advertising a new pain clinic (or something similar; I can't remember exactly what it was called.) The advertisement defined chronic pain and I was shocked to realize that I qualified. I can't begin to count the hours of sleep I have lost, the activities I have stopped doing, the things I have skipped doing with my kids- all because of foot pain and giving everything I had to work, which perpetuated the pain and made it worse. I know I have to end this crazy cycle, but I don't want to give up my job.
Yesterday I had lunch with an old friend. She left the zoo a year ago to pursue a health career with better advancement and earning potential. She had a tumultuous year adjusting to all the change, but yesterday she was the happiest I can remember seeing her. She enjoys her new job and is excited about the potential for advancement. She's still not positive what track she wants to take, but is exploring the possibilities and is excited to start taking classes. I need to approach career change as an exciting adventure, but first I need to loosen my death grip on my zoo job. How do I do that? No idea.