DEAR ABBY: I am 39 and have been at my job for 15 years. I don't enjoy it and haven't since day one. The work is stressful and doesn't bring me one single ounce of gratification.
I have always wanted to be an elementary-school teacher, but now I'm afraid that ship has sailed. I'm currently back in college for business (my job helps to pay my tuition). I don't like finance, and I was never good at math. I get paid well and am well-invested in my retirement plan, but I'm miserable every minute I must sit in my little cubicle. I consider it my jail cell.
I need advice on where to take my career because I'm not getting any younger. Or is it too late?
- Over the Hill in New Jersey
DEAR O.T.H.: You are not incarcerated, and you are only as trapped as you choose to make yourself. Most colleges have career counseling services, and you should avail yourself of them.
If teaching children is your heart's desire, you will have to take the time to prepare for it, know ahead of time what opportunities are available and what the compensation is. Make it your business to find out before making any drastic changes. You'll be glad you did.
DEAR ABBY: My wife died on my birthday a few years back. It was the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me, and my birthday has been depressing since.
Every year, people continue to send cards and gifts, wishing me a happy birthday. All I want to do on that miserable day is get through it. It will never be "happy" for me again. Ever.
I don't want to be nasty to these well-meaning people, but I really do want them to stop. How can I convey that my birthday is not a happy occasion anymore?
- Party Pooper in New Mexico
DEAR PARTY POOPER: I am sorry for your loss. A way to ensure that your message gets across would be to write or call these well-meaning individuals, thank them for their good wishes and tell them exactly what you have written to me. I think you expressed it very well.