Most people who are close to me know that I’ve recently undergone a huge life change (besides that whole growing and giving birth to a human). And the truth is, I’m still coming to terms with it myself, which is why it has taken me until now to write about it.
After 11 years as an athletic trainer, I have decided to step away from not only a job that I loved very much, but from my career. This is the first time I’ve written that down, so I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.
So why, if I loved this job, am I walking away?
Some would say that it’s understandable since I’m now a mom. And yet others, I’m sure, will criticize my decision for that very same reason. To be honest, the raging feminist in me understands those criticisms, as ridiculous as they are. But the reason I am leaving has less to do with my daughter and more to do with a profession that does not lend itself to family life in any way.
Many people will recall this blog post I wrote 5 years ago. In it, I praised my field and the many amazing opportunities that it has given me. To this day, all of those reasons still ring true. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life through this job. Case in point, I never would have met Will were it not for athletic training, and thus Isabelle would not exist either. So I cannot say that I regret the career path I chose, even though it is now coming to an end.
Athletic training is a selfless profession– it’s one that demands long hours, late nights, early mornings, and holidays. It is one with little to no leniency, where you are at the beck and call of the coaches, administrators and athletes, no matter what. It’s a career that is demanding,often grueling, although rewarding. For someone like me, an empath, each day is an emotional investment, helping athletes through sometimes life altering injuries and recovery. And to be honest, this is why I loved it so much. I loved to connect with people and help them come out the other side in one piece. But this is also why I can’t do it anymore.
To me, being a good athletic trainer meant giving all of myself to the job, for better or for worse. Athletes had access to me all the time through phone and text, events in my personal life would be missed (this was not by choice though). I became invested in each athlete and each injury on a level where it was hard for me to just walk away at the end of the day. I worried, I missed sleep, I spent hours researching possible outcomes, and I did so at the expense of my own personal time.
I’m not saying that this is right or wrong, im just saying that this is how I knew how to be an athletic trainer. I couldn’t do it halfway. I couldn’t turn it off at 7 pm.
But I also know that I wouldn’t be able to continue that and still have enough of myself for myself and my family long term. Yes, the schedule, constant changes due to weather or whim of a coach, late nights and–let’s face it– not nearly enough pay all factored into this decision as well. But beyond all of that, which seems an insurmountable collection of reasons alone, I knew that I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be and the only AT I knew how to be.
And for all of the shares I get on that old blog post, I hope people read this as well. Because I’m not trying to discourage any young people from becoming athletic trainers, I just want them to be aware of the whole picture when they make that decision. It’s an amazing, gut wrenching, exciting, mentally stimulating, challenging, yet deeply flawed profession. It hurts me to walk away, yet it also feels quite freeing, and I don’t think I’m alone in having these feelings.
Some out there will criticize the way I practiced. They’ll say I dug myself into a hole and created my own path to burn out. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. But I do know that I gave everything to my career for the past 11 years, and now it’s time to refocus.
So what’s next? Well, along with being a mom, I do have some exciting projects in the proverbial vault, and I’ll let you all in on those in another post very soon. Suffice it to say, I hope for this blog to be a building block for bigger things, and I can’t wait to get started moving forward.