Everyone has a different path. Graduating: 2 years on

Everyone has a different path. Graduating: 2 years on | rhianna olivia

2 years ago on Sunday, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a 2:2 in BA Product Design. 2 years ago on Sunday, I spent a very sunny day with friends and family, unable to fully believe the last 4 years were over.

It was a mixed bag of emotions. I was looking forward to living back in Leeds, but would miss Nottingham (and living by myself) oh-so much. I was proud of myself for making it through the toughest few years, even though I was slightly disappointed I didn’t get the 2:1 I longed for. I was happy and excited to start the grad job I’d already secured, but simultaneously nervous to officially be an adult.

If you’d have asked me where I’d hope to be in 2 years time, I’d have said I’d be 2 years into my grad job as a Junior 3D Designer, maybe even without the ‘Junior’ anymore. I’d have moved into a flat with Joe and we’d be on our way to saving for a house deposit. I’d have maybe dropped a few pounds, picked up running again and got back into yoga. I’d be overdraft free with some savings behind me and I’d feel completely stable. After all, 2 years is a long time when you think about it.

If you’d have told me where I would actually be in 2 years time, I’m not sure I’d have believed you.

You see, as a naïve, newly graduated 22 year old, I wasn’t fully aware that life doesn’t always go to plan.

How could I have known that the graduate job I’d been promised was, actually, going to turn out to be a freelance gig because the company in question “didn’t need me full time anymore”? How could I have known that after 3 months of “freelancing”, I’d quit because it caused my mental health to totally spiral to the point where I would panic and cry every morning at the thought of going to work?

How could I have known that I’d spend the few months after that putting everything I had into my blog, organising a huge blogging event, creating content every day and concluding I didn’t want to do design anymore – the thing I’d studied and dedicated six years of my life to? How could I have known that my career aspirations would quickly change from design to social media and content marketing.

How could I have known that the aforementioned company would take me on as their Content Marketing Executive, going out on a limb and hiring someone without any *real* experience, forging a path for me I don’t think I could have forged on my own. How could I have known, less than a year after graduating, I’d have a full career u-turn completely out of the blue and love every second of it?

How could I have known after only 10 months at the company, just as Joe and I were planning on moving out, just as I was getting out of my overdraft, they’d make me redundant? How could I have known it would upheave my life and leave me unemployed, with less than a year’s *real* experience under my belt, for 6 whole months?

How could I have known I would stumble upon a company, 18 months after graduating, who took that same chance on me? Hiring a girl with very little experience because of the passion she showed for her work.

You see, as a naïve, newly graduated 22 year old, I wasn’t fully aware that life doesn’t always go to plan.

The last two years have been hard. If I said it had been like a rollercoaster, it would be the understatement of the century.

I’m a person who likes to plan, who likes to be in control and who likes to have it all. I like to know where I’m going to be, I like to plan when I’m going to be there.

The fact of the matter is, you can plan and plan and plan, but that doesn’t mean that life won’t have other ideas. There is always going to be something around the corner that you haven’t planned for and, unfortunately, that’s life.

Just because your friend has a house and you don’t, doesn’t mean you’re a failure. The fact you haven’t found your dream job doesn’t make you a failure. Just because your colleague is getting married and you aren’t doesn’t mean you’re a failure. The fact that you’re single doesn’t make you a failure. Just because someone seems to have it all figured out and you can’t understand why you don’t, doesn’t make you a failure.

I have realised everyone’s lives have different timelines. One of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with over the last few years is that my timeline is slightly different to how I expected.

I may not be where a slightly naïve, 22 year old me thought I’d be right now. I may not have had the easiest couple of years. I may not have chosen this path if I’d been asked. But, it’s the path I’m on. And I’m going to live it, see what happens and enjoy the ride.



  1. Emma's Off Again
    7th August 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Love this post, I’m 22 and graduated last year. Currently looking for a job (again) and needed to hear this. Thank you lovely xxx

  2. 6th August 2017 / 6:17 pm

    Love this post. It’s so true. Everyone has different paths….most definitely.

  3. 3rd August 2017 / 1:05 am

    Thank you so so much for writing this post. I am about to go into my third year of university and I have NO IDEA where life is going to take me once (or shall I say if) I graduate. This has just reassured me that life doesn’t go to plan always and that if what I have idealised in my head will happen, doesn’t happen, all will be ok! Xx


  4. Life Of a Blind Girl 1
    30th July 2017 / 10:47 pm

    Thank you for this post, I can really relate and needed those words! I’m so glad you’re doing something that you love :)

  5. Lea H
    28th July 2017 / 1:33 pm

    I just read through this and was going like ooooohhhh and aaaahhhhhaaaa. I knew a little bit about your journey but not to this extend. Thanks for sharing it and showing that what ever life throws at you you can do it! It may seem hard at the time but I truly belive everything has to be like it is.
    Lea, xx

  6. Champagne&Lemonade
    27th July 2017 / 4:37 pm

    My life has been pretty much the same! Who knew I’d be on to my 4th job since graduating 2 years ago!
    Everything happens for a reason!

    Good luck with everything

    Alex oxo

  7. Laura W
    26th July 2017 / 1:24 pm

    I love this post so much. I graduated in 2014 and the following two years were the toughest of my life. Finding a job as a graduate was not easy! I interned, volunteered, but it took me over a year to find a proper job. My physical and mental health was all over the place, and it’s only now that things have pulled together. Being a graduate isn’t as simple as people think it is. I suppose you’ve got to tell yourself to keep going! I feel like so many future grads would benefit from reading this post – just because you don’t leave uni and immediately find a perfect job, flat, relationship etc. doesn’t mean you’re a failure!

    Laura Wardrobe

  8. 26th July 2017 / 1:02 pm

    I love this post – before I left Uni I think I already knew that I didn’t want a career in my field of study but I felt obliged to try it and feel as though I wasted so much of my time trying to make myself enjoy it. Now though A DECADE on from Uni I’ve found a job I love and I wouldn’t actually change a thing about my path because it led me here.

    Emma | HarmonyBlaze.co.uk

  9. thursdayevenings
    25th July 2017 / 10:35 pm

    This is such a reassuring read!
    This september marks the beginning of my final year as a product design student. I see everyone else with their heads in the game, full of determination and focus, getting great grades. I find myself doubting my talent, whether I’ll be able to get a job in this industry, or doubting whether this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
    Its so nice to hear that everyone has different timelines, and that I’ll figure all this out at some point, just at a different time to someone else.
    Love this post!

    Emma x

  10. 25th July 2017 / 10:12 pm

    Loved reading this! I graduated six years ago & my life’s completely different to what I’d imagined it to be. Thinking back there’s only one person who was on my uni course that now has a job in that field. All of our lives haven’t really gone as expected.
    As tough as it is, and I’m a massive control freak, I don’t think you can 100% plan for whats going to happen in life. It’s nice to have a plan, but sometimes I think you’ve got to just go with it :-)
    Amazing post Rhianna, loved reading every bit of it! :-)

    Claire | http://www.clairemac.co.uk

  11. Shannon Clark
    25th July 2017 / 6:26 pm

    I LOVED this post! As a somewhat naive 23 year old I feel like I’ve set myself so many goals, just as you did at 22. But you’re right, life doesn’t always go to plan and if I’m not exactly where I’m envisioning I will be in 2 years it really won’t be the end of the world. Everything happens for a reason, right?


  12. Laura Torninoja
    25th July 2017 / 4:31 pm

    Thank you for writing this post. I’ve had a pretty shitty day today (no specific reason, really, just one of those days when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed!) and I’ve just felt really unmotivated and like I’m not really as good as everyone else (the comparison trap is the worst!), but reading this has helped a lot. It’s so lovely to hear that you are in a good place at the moment after everything that happened, and it gives me hope that my life will sort itself out at some point too! xx

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

  13. 25th July 2017 / 2:18 pm

    I know exactly where you’re coming from Rhianna – I also hoped I would graduate, find a great job and move my way up the career ladder. That just didn’t happen. I ended up in jobs I hated and having to leave a new job I started due to severe anxiety. Life is definitely a rollercoaster! Like you say, we need to stop focusing on what everyone else is doing and be happy with where we are now. I feel so lucky to have my own home and be married, and the career I wanted no longer seems important x

    Jenny | LuxeStyle

  14. 25th July 2017 / 12:57 pm

    This is a lovely post!

    It’s so true, I think we all are guilty of trying to plan ahead and plan our futures but we never know what’s around the corner.

    Sometimes events can turn our lives upside down and we just don’t know how we are going to see a light at the end of the tunnel, but have faith that it always works out, and sometimes, can lead us to more bigger and better opportunities… Frankie x


  15. 25th July 2017 / 12:13 pm

    Wow, this is such a brilliantly written and inspiring post! I’ve just graduated a week ago and I have very little idea of where to go next, because I know I don’t want to pursue my degree choice for a career (or have anything to do with it ever again! haha!) and now I’m stumped. I’m travelling in a couple of weeks so hopefully that’ll give me a bit more life experience and fun after a tough 3 years, but the truth is I’m pretty terrified at being an adult! And I often get down about where all my other grad/non-grad friends are headed with their jobs and secured futures – but you’re absolutely right, who knows what life will throw me and just because I’m on a different path doesn’t make me a failure!

    Thanks Rhianna, you’re definitely on the right road and I think changing paths definitely makes us more interesting and stronger people!

    JosieVictoriaa // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

  16. Zara
    25th July 2017 / 10:31 am

    I am so glad I found this post today, thank you so much for sharing it! It’s kind of resonated with me, even though I’m not in exactly the same situation as you it’s been pretty comforting. xx

  17. 25th July 2017 / 9:06 am

    I only graduated two weeks ago and *thought* I was offered a job withing only a few weeks of me finishing my exams. Stuff was promised, salaries were discussed and it looked like me and my partner were going to be relocating. Turns out, the company, which had led me to believe I was the only candidate, did this to other candidates showing their lack of transparency and as they misled me, I didn’t end up going to the final stage.

    One moment, I was relocating for a *dream* job, now I am back to the drawing board looking for another opportunity. They say everything happens for a reason and I really hope that is true as I have NO idea what the next stage is.

    Youre post has helped me and shown that stuff doesn’t always go as planned, and its kind of okay anyway. Thank you xx

    Lynsey || One More Slice

    • 25th July 2017 / 9:20 am

      I’m so sorry to hear that Lynsey, that’s really shitty of them! After I was made redundant last year, I am a real firm believer in things happening for a reason, as I’m now in a job I NEVER would have applied for that I actually much prefer to my old job. Have faith, keep working hard and something great will be just around the corner – I promise <3