Hello all a bit of a navel gazing post but I could do with bouncing some opinion off of some people. Excuse the long post.
A quick bit of background.
I'm 32 and have been programming for about 10 years on and off. My degrees are all in applied mathematics hence the programming has primarily been numerical based. I started off in Matlab, then moved to FORTRAN when I was doing a PhD that I spent years doing and did complete due to several stupid reasons, but that's another story! During this time I also did a lot of Bash scripting to tie things together and a little python.
I now work for a company doing very simple but relatively interesting engineering models programed in Fortran and little C++. The C++ is mainly bug fixing, customization of hardware I/O routines, no real development, Fortran is where the main devel happens. I've been learning C++ on and off for about 2 years, done some small test programs, tried a bit of QT and Boost, read plenty of "best practice" e.t.c. but of course I haven't developed that much knowledge as I'm not doing it everyday, hence I'm pretty slow on c++ and spend a fair while looking up stuff when I have a task to complete. I like programming and when I am involved in a problem I definitely enjoy it and I enjoy learning new theoretical aspects of programming but I definitely don't LOVE it. After spending 8-10 hours at work programming motivation to do a big project in the evenings and w/e is not that high. I want to be outside a bit during time off! I tend to spend my evening and w/e learning orthogonal engineering areas, such as electronics or take a generator apart e.t.c rather than program. It really is minimal projects or tutorial I follow when I do program in the evening.
I'm in a dead end with my job but am unable to move on because of my limited experience, but its all I can do. Engineering programing jobs seem to require C++ gurus. I feel like I should just give up on programming as I'm never going to become a guru at my age but what to do for a living? I've worked hard and made sacrifices, have good and knowledge over a broad area but still seem unemployable. I'd ideally like to work for myself but need a defined service to sell. The thing I like least about programming is probably the sedentary nature of it, but that's modern life.
I guess I'm looking for idea for a way forward. Give up programming and try something else? If I give it up, try something else and decide to come back to it will that be impossible?
UK based if at all relevant.