Fearing irrelevance

Joey Garcia

I was laid off six months ago and have not been able to find a job. I have tried, but even when it appears to me that interviews have gone well, I never get the job. I am afraid that employers think that I am too old, have too much experience or that I won’t be able to keep up with younger staff. There is no way to prove this discrimination, but in this culture of plastic surgery, it’s certainly a no-brainer. I am starting to fear even showing up for interviews, but I am running out of savings and options. What should I do?

Leave mind reading to magicians (at least they know it’s an act). You have no idea what the interviewer is thinking unless you ask and she or he answers honestly. So refocus your energy on your own mind, mister! Aging is a natural, organic process. Gravity literally pulls us into closer intimacy with the earth as nature prepares our bodies to return to her. This is essential spirituality. To refuse or deny it is to turn away from the Divine. Don Bisson, a spiritual director who teaches a workshop on aging, notes, “All spiritual practices guide us to detachment. If I am going to grow spiritually, I must learn to let go.” Some people let go of their attachment and believe they are independent of help; others must release expectations of energy levels, memory or physical functions. Nearly all must surrender their fears of being irrelevant. Isn’t that your fear?

The problem, of course, is that it’s one half of a swing vote. At times, your ego probably inflates with the belief that you are more important than younger job seekers because of your experience. Don’t play know-it-all. Doing so is a sign of low self-esteem, not healthy aging. As Bisson points out, “As we get older we know that we know less. A 20-year-old knows a lot or thinks they know a lot.”

Living from your strengths also means to be yourself at your age and to value (not worship) your life perspective. Remember, you have gifts most 30-year-olds lack. “Aging has changed a lot in the last 30 years,” Bisson says. “They don’t make 30 like they used to. When I was 30 I was re-evaluating my life. Today at 30 people are deciding what they want to do with their life. My sister’s kids boomeranged back home to live with her every time a job or relationship didn’t work out, because they didn’t know where they were going in life.”

So show interviewers confidence in your life’s direction. Talk briefly about any active hobbies you’re engaged in so they realize your energy levels are optimal. Casually clue them in about your problem-solving skills and imagination. Then trust that through perseverance you will find the right match.

I have not had a boyfriend in at least six years. It’s easy for me to meet men through my hobbies. We flirt and they ask me out, but we never get beyond the first date. They don’t call again, and if I e-mail to check in, they either don’t respond or make vague promises to get together but never follow through. What am I doing wrong?

Believing that those men were right for you and thinking that you must be doing something wrong. Of course, there may be other issues. Ask a guy friend for insight. No men in your entourage? That may be the problem. Knowing how to be friends with men (that’s platonic, no flirting) creates the foundation for a healthy romantic relationship.

Meditation of the week
Spiritual director Don Bisson challenges us to ask ourselves the deep questions: “What does it mean to be fully alive and what does life beyond this life look like?” Your answers, please?

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