Have I Ruined My Future?

Hey Ginzo,

HELP. I graduated last May with a horrid gpa (2.49) and have zero excuses. I feel like my future is ruined. Any advice for a struggling 22 year old?!!

LOST AND FREAKING OUT

I am so glad you wrote to me because this is something I could have written a few years ago. Academics were never my strong suit, and throw on top of it mental health issues and my GPA was probably not too different from yours by the time I graduated. I too felt like I wasn’t going to get anywhere in life with little-to-no academic success to speak for me.

Here’s the thing, though: while your GPA may have defined you all throughout school, in the real world, it means pretty much nothing. I have never had a potential employer ask me what my GPA was because it tells you nothing about a person that is applicable to a real job. There are a lot of people who had great GPAs, and it doesn’t make them stand out from the crowd after graduation. Employers want to know that you are reliable, that you are going to do your best work for them, that you will have a positive attitude, and that you will be easy to work with. People skills are way more important than your GPA will ever be, so worry less about that number and more about how you present yourself to the world. With school just barely behind you in the rearview mirror, it can be easy to define yourself by how you performed back there, but in reality, you probably won’t even remember your GPA in a couple of years… in fact, it’s been about four years since I graduated college, and I couldn’t even really tell you what mine was, only that I was not very proud of it.

That post-graduation time of life was universally confusing and disheartening for me and all my friends and really anyone I have talked to about it. A lot of my friends were top performers in school with stellar grades and the intelligence to back it up; this did not spare them the hell that is trying to figure out what to do with themselves after graduation. The secret that they never tell you in school is no one really knows what they are doing as adults. When we are in school, our lives are structured: you go to elementary school then middle school then high school then college. After college, there is no structured plan; you have to make it for yourself. And that is a terrifying endeavor for all of us, regardless of how we performed in school. You may think that your peers have it all figured out, but trust me, they don’t.

Yes, if the only vision you have for yourself is to go to the top med school in the country, your GPA might get in the way of that plan. But the beautiful and terrifying thing is that there are infinite possibilities for you out there right now. If not med school, perhaps there is another medical profession you could go into where your GPA is not going to be as much of an obstacle. Or maybe you will realize that the sight of blood makes you want to hurl so the medical field isn’t for you. Give yourself the freedom to envision more possibilities, and your GPA is not going to mean as much as you think it does.

At 22, you don’t have to have anything figured out. Your life path is nowhere near set in stone. The key is to not think of every decision you make as defining who you will be for the rest of your life. There is a lot of stumbling around to be done before you realize what you truly are supposed to do. My suggestion to you would be to just try something. I don’t know what you are doing for work now, but if it is making you unhappy or you feel it is a dead-end, consider what other opportunities lay before you and seek them out. Most of the time, you get a job because you know the right people. It’s estimated that around 70 to 80 percent of jobs are found by networking. This holds true to me; I have gotten almost all my jobs because I knew someone, or knew someone who knew someone. This doesn’t mean that you are totally screwed if none of your inner circle does anything you would remotely want to do; most of the time, it is not your closest friends but your acquaintances who will get you the job. If you have an idea about what sounds interesting to you as a career, think about who knows something about it. If you don’t know anyone, try posting on social media and seeking these people out. The more people you talk to, the more information you have, and more importantly, the more connections you have. If you really don’t know anyone, almost every city has networking events that you could go to just to chat with people. The key to those types of events is to worry less about nailing down THE person who is going to give you THE job and to think of it more as an opportunity to get to know more about what it is like to do that type of job. If you happen to make a good connection, great. If not, you have done your part to get a little be closer to figuring out what your next step is. One thing I did after graduation that I found quite helpful was applying to a temp agency. Actually, what I did was apply to somewhere between 10 and 20 of their job listings, which caught their attention and enticed them to hire me ASAP. I worked a couple of temp jobs that were not glamorous or particularly interesting, but they helped inform me of what I liked and didn’t like in a job. If you think of a job as a way to both make money and experiment to find out more about what you ultimately want to do, it takes the pressure off of it to be your career.

Remember that none of us know what life will bring us. Plan for your future, but also know that this moment is more important. The big picture is great to think about, but it may never turn out the way you expect (actually, it probably won’t). Don’t forget to enjoy yourself now and don’t preoccupy yourself with the future too much because regardless of whether you live in the moment or spend your time worrying, the future will come. Best of luck!

XOXO,
Ginzo

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FYI About Posting Schedule

Hi all,

I figured it might be helpful to let you know my schedule for responding to your letters. I work a full-time job so my personal writing time is generally on Saturdays and Tuesdays. So if you write a letter to me during the week, look out for it one of those days! If your need for advice is time-sensitive, let me know in your letter and I will try my best to respond sooner. Alright, I am off to write!

XOXO,

Ginzo

A Note About Names

Hey y’all! I had someone reach out and ask about the anonymity issue, as on my Contact page, you are required to put a name. For the record, you do not have to put your actual name in this slot. It’s part of the form because I would like at least a way to address you, but if you prefer to be anonymous, you do not have to put a real name – even “Anonymous” is fine. I encourage you to get creative with it if you like! You can refer to my past posts to see what other people did, or just go with the name you always wished your parents had named you but of course they didn’t because they failed you so many times (yeah maybe write in and we can talk about that BTW). You can even just ask me to come up with a name for you in the letter. No pressure to tell me who you really are! Bless the internet for making this possible. Write in if you need advice – either email me at askginzo@gmail.com or go on and submit through the Contact page, anonymously or otherwise.

XOXO,

Ginzo

How Do I Help Friends in Politically Tense Relationships?

Hi there Ginzo!

Ever since the Trump elections, many relationships have been very strained. I don’t think it’s really a thing we’ve had to super seriously take into account; the opinion of the other on the presidency and the election. Tensions have been running extremely high among many friends, girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, and many other interpersonal relationships after the most recent election. One thing I am struggling with has been how to help friends who are in relationships where their significant other disagrees with them politically and/or “morally.” How do I keep my own personal feelings out of how I approach those situations or is it better to be completely be upfront about them?

Sincerely,

Concerned Lady Friend

Dear Concerned Lady Friend,

You’re right that tensions are quite high right now, so I don’t blame you for being concerned. Anyone on social media can attest to this fact. When seeing America in a new light, naturally, you’re going to see some Americans in a new light, too. In some cases, this is an extremely unflattering light. Think the fluorescent lights in your high school gym that made your skin look green and blotchy. Personally, I have had to put up boundaries around the role these people play in my life. Now there are people who fall under the “will make pleasant small talk with you but will never discuss politics because I will never want to talk to you again” category or “will discuss politics with you but the minute I can tell you aren’t listening anymore I will leave the conversation” category. The best group to emerge out of this are the people in the “I can count on you to be there when I have deep fear/anger/anxiety/apprehension to ease the burden on my heart” category. Make a point to talk to this last group as often as possible to help you through the emotional work associated with the first two.

Now let me get to the heart of your question. Here’s the thing about giving relationship advice to other people: don’t. That is, unless very obviously explicitly asked. One of the most important pieces of advice my mom ever gave me was to not get too invested in other people’s relationships because they will rarely take your advice to heart. From an outside perspective, your suggestions may be the most logical and sound course of action, but logic doesn’t play a big part in relationships. Your friends may be distressed by this new political tension mixed into their romance, but try not to mix up the difference between someone asking for your opinion and just wanting to be heard. Stick to providing an empathetic ear and maybe talking more generally about your views when they come up until they ask specifically for your advice. It’s helpful to keep in mind that unsolicited advice rarely gets taken, so don’t waste your energy on composing the perfect speech to give about it until you are sure your friend really wants to hear it. A good mantra for you might be, “That’s not my problem.” Frankly, in this political climate, you have bigger fish to fry. Your friends will have to figure out how to cope with this tension themselves because in the end, they will listen to their own heart over your opinion any day.

I don’t think this means you need to censor your opinion when politics come up; for example, if you are spending time with one of these couples and the topic presents itself. In fact, unpacking your respective views could be an educational moment. Try your best to have a constructive conversation, meaning you actively listen instead of merely waiting to speak. If you feel emotional about it, that’s okay; people who say that they would have listened if you hadn’t gotten so “emotional” are people who were looking for reasons not to hear your opinion anyway. If these conversations are not getting anywhere and are draining you, there is nothing wrong with a strategic subject change. They may not lead anywhere, but expressing your view is often more gratifying than simply keeping your mouth shut. Of course, if through these conversations, you find that keeping your mouth shut is a better strategy for now, that’s okay, too.

And if your friend asks you point-blank what you would do if you were in her situation, you don’t need to hide what you feel (though if it is “I would dump that racist monster in 0.3 seconds,” you might want to soften that a bit). The important distinction here is that she asked. Our friends don’t need our judgment, but they deserve our honesty. Strive for nonjudgmental but truthful whenever your friend needs your advice and you are far more likely to get out of the conversation with their mind opened and your friendship intact. Just remember that at the end of the day, whether they listen to you or not, the bigger concern here is what you are doing for your own mental health in the face of tension. If you are behaving in a way that is respectful to your friends and your own needs, you can’t go wrong.

XOXO,
Ginzo