Surrendering perfection

Joey Garcia

I am a 28-year-old African-American gay male with a wonderful partner. I have an associate’s degree in computer programming and speak Spanish and French fluently. I have two black belts in the martial arts. I am a classically trained countertenor with a four-and-a-half-octave voice (extremely rare). I have a home-based business.

Despite these achievements, I feel I am a failure. I have issues keeping suitable employment because I am easily annoyed with the inequalities I see in the workplace. I never feel a connection with my co-workers and end up feeling rejected and lonely. So, I leave. I recognize that this issue results in part from a childhood with a perfectionist mother. How do I shake this mentality?

Redefine your concept of success. Massage your belief system until it is flexible enough to embrace all of your exquisite beauty, the parts you know and claim as you and the aspects you have yet to discover. Your accomplishments are impressive. That they are not enough speaks to the sublime nature of your yearning. You desire an internal sense of wholeness, and this is gained by integrating your achievements with the loving, accepting part of you and with the part of you that criticizes relentlessly. Integration of these parts creates humans who are genuine. They understand that spiritual maturity is the process of accepting oneself, the darkness and the light, while continuing to make gentle adjustments in attitudes, behaviors and belief systems that nurture inner peace and facilitate love of others. As Cardinal Newman wisely remarked, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

Another thought: Sometimes people with extraordinary talents consider themselves special and have difficulty working at “regular” jobs with “regular” people. Perhaps you struggle against an inner voice that fears that settling into a job is akin to becoming like everyone else. That won’t happen unless you choose to suppress your emotions, instincts and intuitions and ignore calls from God. Instead, allow yourself to stop trying to please your mother, the perfectionist, and choose to start enjoying yourself instead.

Is it possible to sustain a healthy relationship and have a future with someone when the age difference is 17 years?

Are handcuffs and an arrest record involved? If so, it’s impossible. So, tell your parents. Then, move far, far away; change your telephone number; keep that number unlisted; and get a restraining order.

If you are an adult wondering whether two adults can look past age differences, the answer is maybe. Here’s why: One person may be 45 years old, chronologically, and be 28 emotionally. Dating 28-year-olds helps that emotionally stunted 45-year-old to feel normal and avoid facing the truth. Can such a relationship last? Yes, until the 28-year-old matures emotionally or spiritually and realizes the other’s true nature. At that point, the couple has to confront the obvious and grow up or break up.

There are also lifestyle issues to consider. If one person is retired, and the other is still working, it can put a strain on the relationship. Physical health also can be an impediment. If one partner is a physically fit 60-year-old, and the other is a physically frail 77-year-old, the pressure on the relationship can be enormous. But rather than analyze the myriad problematic possibilities, why not enter the relationship and determine, through experience, if it is right for you?

Meditation of the week
I was stunned to tears at the premiere of After Innocence, the Academy Award-nominated documentary about men who were exonerated through DNA evidence for crimes they did not commit. That they were falsely imprisoned, even sentenced to death row, was tragic enough. But I learned that when exonerated people are released from prison, they are not entitled to the health care, job training, housing assistance or other benefits granted to ex-convicts. And, although they have been proven innocent, their records are not expunged. What are you doing about it?

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