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

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

How to Cope With Anger

I have recently made it my mission to get in touch with the emotion that makes me the most uncomfortable: anger. All my life, I have made it a habit to stifle anger. I hate confrontation so much that I thought that keeping anger inside was the way to deal with it, and it turns out, it totally was! HAHA just kidding, it emotionally exhausted me so much that I physically felt tired. I had to accept that anger, like any emotion, serves a purpose, and that pretending it isn’t there doesn’t make it go away.

The Wisdom of the Five Messengers

A few years ago, my therapist gave me a copy of the book “The Wisdom of the Five Messengers” by Kerry Paul Altman, and it really resonated with me. It’s about the purpose of emotions: to bring our attention to what we need to change in our lives. Internalized misconceptions stop us from really hearing what our emotions are guiding us to do, but even when we choose to ignore them, they come out in other ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally. According to Dr. Altman, the key to living a healthy life is to let go of these preconceived notions about our feelings, stop ignoring them, and accept them for the important role they play in our lives. There are no “good” or “bad” emotions; each of the five outlined in the book (anger, sadness, happiness, fear, and love) is an essential part of being a human.

Dr. Altman refers to anger as “the messenger of injustice” (this will likely immediately speak to anyone who is angry about the new administration). When we are angry, it is because we feel wronged. We feel betrayed, whether it’s by another person, the world, or ourselves. Anger gets a bad rap because it is associated with aggression, so we are taught to ignore and avoid it. However, anger is different than aggression; anger is a feeling, and aggression is a behavior. Anger doesn’t need to be managed; aggression does. Anger needs to be heard, because anger is essential to getting shit done. Anger is why any social movement ever started. As Audre Lorde said in her well-worth-the-read essay “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism,” when anger is “[f]ocused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change.” We need anger on some level to motivate us to address injustices of all kinds, from large scale societal injustices such as racism, to minor frustrations in our personal lives. When we recognize and accept our anger, it enables us to see the options we have to deal with it. We can repress anger and let it manifest as passive-aggressive behavior, headaches, or panic attacks, or we can face it head on and use it to address what is unfair in our lives.

Take a Beat

For many people, the trouble with anger is that it makes them say hurtful things. I am not generally one to respond immediately with anger, mostly because I have spent so much time out of touch with it. However, this hasn’t stopped me from spewing some toxic sentiments about the source of my anger later on to close confidants. I won’t post them here for public record, but my close friends reading this could probably tell you exactly what I said. Anger can be blinding, so it is wise to take a step back and unpack it before you address it. Give yourself the time and space to compose your thoughts if you want your words to carry the right impact. In the heat of the moment, it is easy for others to dismiss you as “too emotional.” Don’t give them this satisfaction by taking time to compose your thoughts and say exactly what you mean, how you mean it. Whether you need to take ten seconds to breathe deeply before you respond or you need several days, take the time you need, do the work, and process your anger.

Express It

I am pretty good at detecting when I need some room to think when I am feeling heated, but I am not great at following through later. My natural inclination is to work through my anger on my own and then let it slide when it comes to actually expressing it out loud. Because of my fear of confrontation, I have chickened out on this step again and again. I used to just hate the idea of “burdening” others with my feelings and making them feel bad for making me angry because does it really matter if I am not that angry anymore? Yes, it does. Your emotions are not a burden to other people. When you tell people how you really feel, how they made you feel, you are showing them respect. You demonstrate that you think enough of them to be honest with them. Imagine being in their position: if someone was mad at you, would you rather they tell you or hold it in the form of a grudge forever? Go ahead and tell them what’s on your mind.

Do Something About It

In the case of an argument, expressing how you feel may be all you need to move past it. However, there are many sources of anger within our lives, and many times, a conversation is either not possible or is not going to resolve the problem. If you are stuck in a cycle of endless road rage during your commute, for example, it might be cathartic to talk to your friends and family or journal about it, but that’s not going to address the problem head on. This is where it’s important to identify actions you can take to cope with your anger. In the case of road rage, look into alternative methods of commuting, like a more scenic and less populated route, or taking the bus instead of driving. Make a list of all your options for coping with whatever is making you angry, and choose what to do with this invigorating emotion.

Forgive

Anger serves an important purpose, but it is not meant to held onto for the rest of your life. Once you have expressed it and done something about it, it should be easier to forgive the source of your anger, which is important for your own well-being. However, this may be easier said than done in many cases, particularly in the face of oppression. You don’t need to forgive your oppressors, but find forgiveness where you can so you can heal. Forgive yourself for not being able to do more. Forgive those who don’t know better (and try to educate them). Forgive the world for its passive silence. When your anger is no longer serving you, it’s time to let it go. There is plenty more productive anger in your future.

Feel Gratitude

Once you have accomplished everything you can with your anger and let it go, it’s time to turn your attention elsewhere. This is a great opportunity to indulge in some gratitude. Think about the things in your life that don’t make you angry, but fill you with feelings of contentment, security, and awe. Tell a friend what they mean to you. Spend time in a place that gives you peace. Thank yourself for doing the work necessary to process anger. Anger is not an easy emotion, but it is one that can bring much to be grateful for into your life if you let it.

Here’s hoping your journey towards healthy anger is a smooth one. If it isn’t, feel free to reach out to me for more advice! I’m here for you.

Ginzo

How Do I Set Boundaries With My Family and Friends?

I’m not sure how to start one of these! Ok, so it seems like my friends and family only treat me like a commodity. Sometimes I feel like I’m an old doll put on the Shelf. Then when someone can use me for a purpose that’s when I’m taken off the shelf. It’s only when I can be used do I feel like I’m an important person to them. It really hurts me. I’m not sure what to do about it. I don’t know if I should talk to them or find other ways of setting boundaries. Advice would be helpful. Thanks!

Sarah

Dear Sarah,

I’m sorry to hear that you are feeling used and hurt. This is a feeling I can relate to because I’m a chronic people pleaser, and it has taken a lot of self-reflection and therapy to move away from the need to always please others and put myself first instead. In the worst of my people-pleasing days, I would do anything that was asked of me, and I never expressed my own needs. As a result, people walked all over me and I was stewing with a heart full of resentment. I had to change my self-perception and start clearly communicating expectations, not only for my own mental health, but to save these relationships. It’s something that I still struggle with, but I have turned a corner and am the best at expressing my emotions and needs than I ever have been, and my relationships and personal happiness have been reaping the benefits.

It could be that you have surrounded yourself with a bunch of users, but my rule for any scenario when it seems like everyone is treating you in a certain way is to look at what is in common in all these relationships: you. What is more likely than them being a bunch of dill holes is that your friends and family treat you this way because you haven’t communicated that it hurts you. Perhaps you are that friend who will always let someone rant about their day with no expectation of them returning the favor. People tend to think these types of friends have an endless supply of kindness and generosity for them, or more realistically, they don’t think about their feelings at all. This doesn’t mean they are any more self-involved than the general populace. Keep in mind that everyone is walking around in their own world, consumed with whatever is going on in their lives. It takes perceptive and sensitive people who are genuinely interested in your inner world to put themselves in your shoes, and even these people are caught up in their own stuff. You cannot expect anyone to read your mind; you have to clearly communicate your needs and you have to tell them when they hurt you.

Vocalizing these feelings can release you from the burden of them. I suggest you do talk to some of your friends and family about how you have been feeling, but keep a couple of things in mind. Some people will react better to this conversation than others. Some will get defensive, and some will try to minimize your feelings to make themselves feel better about hurting you. Others might be horrified that they have made you feel this way and feel very guilty about it, which, if you are like me, may make you feel terrible, too. There are some people who are going to be receptive to this conversation and will immediately take steps to ease this burden on you, but others are not going to be that emotionally intelligent. So yes, have conversations about it with the people you can trust to listen nonjudgmentally and validate your feelings, but with the people who aren’t going to be so kind, you can skip it if it is going to be more trouble than it’s worth. For both of these groups, however, you will have to actively set boundaries.

The first step in setting boundaries is to define them. You know what certain people always ask of you, so reflect on which of these things makes you feel used and drained, which you don’t mind doing so much, and which you actually enjoy. Know where your limits are so you can make them very clear. I would suggest you journal at this topic. Not only this is a great way to process emotions, it will also serve as a reminder of why you need to set these boundaries, which will be helpful when you are tired and feel like it would be easier to just give in. Write down certain go-to phrases for setting boundaries that specifically apply to scenarios in which you feel used. Some that have worked for me in the past:

“That isn’t convenient for me.”
“Now is not the right time.”
“I don’t feel comfortable doing that.”
“I can’t make that a priority.”
“I am not the right person for that; please ask someone else.”

The trick is to remain strong and always keep in mind why you are doing this. You might find that a mantra you can return to again and again will help you keep your conviction. If you are a visual person, you might write down an empowering phrase on a post-it note next to your mirror. Continuing to journal can help you keep in touch with your emotions through this process, and allow you to see where you have improved and where you still need work. Try anything you can do to help you remember that this is worth it. YOU are worth it.

There will be people who truly are using you for your generous nature, and once you start putting up boundaries, they may disappear from your life. This can hurt, but take this as the blessing that it is; you don’t need them. The added bonus is that you will find out which people truly love, care for, and respect you. These are the people who are on your team. Hold them close and appreciate them for the valuable role they play in your life. Foster these relationships by yes, helping them when they need it and you have the emotional resources, but also asking for their help. Keep these relationships as balanced as you can by leaning on them as much as they lean on you; you can trust the people who really care to be quite content with this arrangement.

It won’t be an easy journey, but it will be worth it. Keep your head up and give yourself a pat on the back for doing some important emotional work. Best of luck!

Ginzo

10 Self-Care Tips (That Don’t Involve A Bubble Bath)

Have you guys ever noticed how articles about self-care always tell you to take a bubble bath? Don’t get me wrong; I love baths. I pretty much always have bath bombs from Lush on deck, and when I don’t, I will drive an hour to buy one. I have also had several epiphanies about myself while sitting in baths, so I am not about to belittle the value of some good ole self-reflection in the tub. But self-care is about so much more than bubble baths, and the heavy emphasis on pampering yourself makes self-care seem like indulgence, which people use to justify either not taking care of themselves or participating in some unhealthy behaviors and calling it “self-care.”

Self-care is about CARING for yourself, the way you care for a child. Caring for a child is not all about taking them to the circus and giving them all of the ice cream their heart desires; it’s also about making sure that they are fed and clothed and brush their teeth and get to bed on time, plus loving them and giving them a safe space to develop and grow. Just the way you would care for a child, you need to care for yourself. So to help you in your self-care efforts, I have compiled a list of self-care tips that don’t involve a bubble bath (though tbh all this talk about baths is just making me want to take one when I’m done writing this).

Have a bedtime ritual

If you’re anything like me, you have nights when you just crawl right into bed without doing anything beforehand because why bother, we’re all going to die anyway, right? Existentialism aside, having a bedtime ritual is extremely beneficial to your sleep hygiene and ergo, your life. Rituals trigger our brains to release the hormones we associate with these particular actions; so for bedtime rituals, our brains release melatonin, the sleep hormone. Basically, having a bedtime ritual conditions you to be sleepy at bedtime, making it so much easier to fall asleep. Sleep is important for your mental and physical health, so you should prioritize it.

Apply to a new job

This tip applies specifically to y’all who hate their jobs, or feel complacent in their jobs, or just feel complacent in general. Even if it leads nowhere, applying to another job allows you to envision a different future. Don’t resign yourself to live in an existence you hate. This can apply even beyond your job. Imagine your life beyond what limits you, whether that’s your job, your apartment, your friends, or your relationship. In short, whatever it is that is making you unhappy, take steps to change it: apply for a new job, look for a new place, make new friends, and dump his ass.

Go to the dentist

I’m sure there are people out there who are extremely diligent about going to the dentist; congratulations on being responsible. I, on the other hand, will put off going to the dentist as long as humanly possible, and then endlessly worry about them judging my tartar build up and live in an anxious ball until my appointment. Maybe for you, this is not going to the dentist, but going to the eye doctor, gynecologist, or other medical appointment. Regardless of what type of doctor, just go. It’s better than living in fear of all of the terrible diseases you think you have but probably don’t, and if you do, you need to, you know, see a doctor.

Prioritize plans with yourself

If you’re anything like me, you are intimately familiar with this scenario: someone asks you to do something, and you don’t really want to do it because you had been planning to curl up in bed and eat grapes and watch reality television, but that doesn’t really count as plans so you say “yes” anyway. Eff that. It doesn’t matter if all you did was make plans with yourself, you already have plans. Don’t allow yourself to be guilted into going to your sister’s boyfriend’s poetry reading, either by your sister or by your own inner critic.

Clean and decorate

In moments when it felt like my life was completely out of my control, cleaning has been one of the most cathartic actions I have taken. When you can’t control your life, you can still control your environment. I especially like cleaning the kitchen. There is something about a clean kitchen that makes me feel so calm. I also love when my bedroom is all cozy and neat and Instagrammable (read: fairy lights, patterned quilts, and tapestries). Cleaning is not only good for your mood, but for your cognition. When I go into slob mode and make Clothes Mountain in my closet, it is so stressful getting dressed in the morning. In contrast, when I have hung and sorted all of my clothes according to style and color, I don’t start my day with any clothes-related anxiety (I will find something else to worry about instead).

Make yourself a meal

It’s so easy to fall into the same pattern of eating out, grabbing whatever is convenient, but there is something important in the act of cooking for yourself. Food is a way that many people choose to show love (i.e. me/my mom/my sister/probably your grandma/the coworker who always brings in baked goods). Why not show yourself that same kind of love? Make yourself a meal that nourishes you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sounds too lofty? Just make something that tastes delicious. Make grandma proud.

Play with an animal

At my college, they would have pet therapy day before finals to help stressed out students. This is because SCIENCE which tells us that animals have a calming effect on humans. Keep your blood pressure low by petting, playing with, or holding an animal, whether it is your pet, your friend’s, or some pups at the Humane Society.

Have a conversation with yourself

It might be hard for you to be kind to yourself. If it is, you are not alone. I have to actively combat negative and persistent thoughts of self-doubt on a daily basis, so I get it. Something that helps me sometimes when I am getting really down is to add some distance. I have a conversation with myself as though I am one of my close friends and I can approach the situation with far more kindness and love. When I have a feeling, I might say out loud, “I feel so ______ when _____ happens,” and I respond as though it was my friend who expressed this thought. Put a little distance between yourself and your feelings, and you may be surprised how much easier it is to accept them and move on.

Unplug

Have you ever felt like social media is a drug that is slowly sucking your time and soul so you close the Facebook app in disgust and swear you won’t check it till tomorrow but then you check it again almost immediately after because what if something has changed in the last 20 seconds? Whether your social media addiction is as persistent as mine or you have a better grip on it but still feel the effects of information overload, it’s healthy to unplug once and awhile. You might try charging your phone on the other side of the room when you sleep, deleting some apps off your phone so you can’t check them as regularly, or deactivating an account or two. Some people get nervous at the idea of leaving their phone at home for a few hours because what if this is the one time there is an emergency? I get that because I am also a worrier; that being said, it can be very refreshing to leave your phone at home for an hour or two while you go for a run or go spend some face-to-face time with a friend, and you will probably come home to only a few promotional emails or no notifications at all, making you wonder why you own a smartphone at all.

Invest in people who invest in you

When I was younger, I spent way too much time on people who gave little in return. Now, I spend more time nurturing relationships with people who want to nurture relationships with me. The people you invest in are the people who root for you, who ask how you are and want to know the answer, and who you unquestionably know care about you. Invest in them by returning the favor; support them, think about them, and let them know however you do that best, whether it is verbally, written, or through acts of kindness. On the flip side, let go of (or if you can’t, distance yourself from) people who only care about what you can give them, who never show any curiosity about you and your world, and who leave you feeling depleted and used. Care for yourself enough to know that you deserve better.

Happy Wellness Wednesday, y’all! Go out and care for yourselves!

Ginzo

How Do I Make Friends at Work?

Hey Ginzo,

I started a new job about 5 months ago and I feel like I haven’t made much progress in terms of bonding with my coworkers. (I am close with one of my coworkers, but she sits on the other side of the office). It has a pretty long training process that just recently finished, and I thought I would be friends with my coworkers by now. We all have the same job and they’re friends with each other, but I can’t help but feel excluded constantly: They eat lunch together all the time and have a group chat. I know they’ve been working together much longer than I have, but every time I try to connect, it doesn’t seem to work. My brain tells me that I shouldn’t take it personally, but I can’t help but let it get to me sometimes. Advice? Thanks ❤

The Lonely Coworker

Dear Lonely Coworker,

I’m sorry that you are having a hard time making friends at work. When you’re feeling isolated at the place where you spend most of your time, it can be disheartening.

Maybe you need to reconsider your methods for making friends. For example, do you tend to interact with your coworkers in bigger groups? It can be difficult to really connect to people in these situations, especially if the rest of the group has established common ground. Try instead to invite one person to take a walk, grab lunch, get a drink after work, or to an activity you know you both like. Instead of trying to fit into the group as a whole, focus on making individual connections.

If you reach out to form individual friendships and find yourself getting the cold shoulder from certain people, it might be hard not to take it personally, but you just aren’t going to connect with everyone. Expand your horizons in terms of who can be your friend. Many companies present opportunities to socialize, such as volunteer work, intramural sports, happy hours, and other events outside of the office. Instead of heading home to throw on your sweats, take advantage of these events to get yourself out there and meet more people.

In the end, you might just need more time to establish yourself at the company. Five months may seem like a long time, but if these people have been working together for a while, it may just take you a little longer to catch up. Don’t give up too soon. In the meantime, try making yourself more approachable. Make an effort to say “hi” and smile at everyone, and people will feel more comfortable approaching you. Ask people about their lives and remember things about them. Be helpful when you can, and ask for help when you need it. These are things that are very effective in making people like you.

Also, sometimes simply acting more confident attracts people to you. Walking with your head held a little higher is an easy way to fake it till you make it.

Best of luck! I hope you are feeling less lonely soon.

Ginzo

How to Write New Year’s Resolutions

I love New Year’s resolutions. People are quick to point out how often we fail to accomplish them, but I don’t think that fear of failure should hold you back from this helpful exercise (or doing anything, really). I have failed to achieve many resolutions, but at minimum, thinking about what I wanted to accomplish helped me to live a more intentional life and gain greater perspective on my life. This New Year’s Day, I hope you are taking some time to reflect on what you want to accomplish this year. If you are, I have put together this handy guide to making the most of your New Year’s resolutions.

Picking Your Resolutions

Pick realistic and specific goals

Making resolutions that are too lofty or vague guarantees that you aren’t going to accomplish them. Don’t resolve to exercise on a daily basis when you rarely do now; that isn’t realistic. Instead, work yourself up to that goal by exercising once a week, then adding more days as you go.

Additionally, if your resolutions are too general, it’s harder to stick to them because you don’t have a specific measure of success. If you want to read more, for example, pick exactly how often you will read and for how long. If you have overarching goals, such as becoming a better flutist, make more specific goals that contribute to it, like playing the flute for 15 minutes every day or joining a flute interest group (that’s a thing, right?).

Make a resolution a month

A year is a long time to keep focused on a goal, as evidenced by the fact that most people give up on their resolutions sometime in February. Instead of making your resolutions for the whole year, make a resolution for each month of the year. For example, if you want to become a better cook, you might resolve to make a new dish twice a week in January. At the end of the month, you will have eight new dishes in your repertoire, and you can focus on other things in February.

Research

Before committing to a resolution, research it as much as possible to find resources to help you. For example, if you want to start doing yoga, look into classes in the area, check out YouTube (Yoga by Adriene is awesome and accessible, by the way), and read some background information so you have a better understanding. Researching into your resolutions makes you more invested in them and keeps them at the forefront of your mind.

Reflect

When making your resolutions, think about your accomplishments over the past year, as well as things you would like to improve in your life and about yourself. Below are some questions to help you reflect on what you want out of your resolutions.

Questions for Self-Reflection

  • In what ways have you changed over the past year?
  • What 2016 accomplishments are you proud of?
  • This time next year, how you would like to answer the above questions?
  • What could you work on within yourself? What are your biggest obstacles to change?
  • What makes you feel fulfilled and happy?
  • How do you feel about your physical health? Your mental health? Your emotional health?
  • Who are the most important people in your life? How do you feel about your relationships with them? What could you do to improve them?
  • How could you deepen your spiritual life?
  • How could you improve your financial well-being?
  • What would you like to accomplish professionally this year?
  • What creative outlets do you have? How could you enrich your creativity?

Strategies For Sticking With It

Establish accountability

Accountability makes humans actually do things because we don’t want to let anyone down. Use the power of social pressure to keep yourself moving towards your goals. You can get a buddy to commit to the resolution with, or you could start a social media account or blog to track your progress. Anyway you can establish accountability, do it.

Embrace failure

Brace yourself for the first of many Brené Brown quotes that will be featured on this blog:

“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

You aren’t going to be perfect with your resolutions. Making the choice to change doesn’t mean it is going to happen overnight, and you will stumble along the way. Forgive yourself your failures and get back up and try again.

Write them down

You are more likely to stick to your resolutions when you write them down because it makes them more tangible when you see them on paper. This also makes you more focused and committed to your goals, and makes it easier to remember them. Don’t try to just remember your resolutions; make them real and write them down.

Remind yourself

Just writing your resolutions on a piece of paper and sticking it in a drawer isn’t going to be enough to keep your goals on your mind. There are several ways you can keep reminding yourself of your resolutions. You could hang them next to your mirror as a daily nudge to keep at it, or schedule out specific tasks on your phone calendar so you are regularly getting automated reminders. Keep your resolutions at the forefront of your mind, and you will be more likely to achieve them.

Regardless of whether or not you succeed in your resolutions, I hope 2017 brings happiness, good health, and peace for you all. Happy New Year!

Ginzo

How Do I Break Up With Someone?

Dear Ginzo,

I’ve never broken up with someone before but I have to now. In my previous relationships the other person always ended it. A few times I have wanted to get out too but haven’t had the courage to actually break up with them. I’m embarrassed to admit that I will just kinda pull away until they finally end it or get the hint and we just stop talking. I recently realized this about myself and decided that if I was ever unhappy in a relationship again, I would break up with them instead of my usual cowardly move. But now that I have been seeing this person for a few months, I realized that we just don’t have that much in common and I don’t see myself with them long term. But I’m scared. I really don’t want to hurt their feelings because I think they’re great, just not right for me. I am also debating my method. When I told one friend I was just going to text my soon-to-be-ex and get it over with, she yelled at me. Then I talked to another friend about it and she says she would actually PREFER to be broken up with over text. Wtf? What do I do now? HELP!

Never the Dumper, Always The Dumpee

Dear Never the Dumper, Always The Dumpee,

First of all, hats off for recognizing this about yourself and deciding to make a change. In a world where “ghosting” has become a common experience in the world of dating, it’s good to hear that you’re taking the road of emotional maturity.

I have had the discussion, “Is there really a good way to breakup with someone?” many a time, often when someone brings up that episode of Sex in the City when Berger broke up with Carrie on a post-it note (and I hate Carrie Bradshaw but yeah, that’s a terrible way to breakup with someone). I think there is a right way to breakup with someone, to a point. Either way, you are ending the relationship, and regardless of the circumstances, it can hurt. Rejection sucks and change is hard to accept. But there is definitely a way to break up with a person that shows them respect and allows you to be both honest about your feelings and sensitive to theirs. When it comes to your situation, it sounds like it is simply a matter of lack of chemistry. They have done you no wrong; it just isn’t going to work out. In this case, being too specific only serves to hurt their feelings. For example, being like, “Well, I think you’re really great, but your porcelain doll collection is off-putting and I can’t see myself being down to go to any of those conventions you attend” is just going to hurt their feelings. You don’t have to lie, but a simple, “The chemistry is just not there for me” should suffice. Also, none of this, “Well, I am just not ready for a relationship right now” stuff because that only serves to lead them on. Don’t leave a door open for them that you know is shut for you.

As far as over text v. in-person debate goes, I actually don’t think there is anything wrong with breaking up with someone over text message. It’s really all about context. Someone with whom you were making long-term plans and have been seeing for over a year? Yeah, you sure as shit better not break up with them over text. Someone you have dated for a couple of months and had maybe 5 dates with? Eh, you might save them the gas money and their dignity by letting them read your breakup texts swaddled in a nest of blankets and sadness. Today, text is the primary form of communication for many relationships, romantic or otherwise, and it is in the process of changing the etiquette of a lot of social situations, hence your two friends’ wildly different opinions on the subject.

If you are still not sure which is the best route, I would suggest you decide which way based on their preferred method of communication. Are they more verbal (i.e. do they prefer phone calls over texting, do they express affection out loud)? Or are they more inclined to express their feelings non-verbally (i.e. over text, through body language), in which case, an in-person breakup may be way more difficult for them to handle? Hopefully after dating for a couple of months, you have some insight into their communication style. Reflect on them as a person and this will guide you in the direction of a breakup that’s respectful.

Best of luck breaking things off, and give yourself a good pat on the back for being an emotionally intelligent human.

Love,
Ginzo