On not graduating from university...

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Desk Space At the moment my Facebook timeline is awash with people in pointy mortar board hats (I especially learnt their name just for this post) and graduation statuses, which means two things- one- I have a group of very intelligent friends on social media (and I'm ruddy proud of them too) and two, this week would have been the week that I graduated from university- which is pretty surreal to say the least.

Sometimes when your bed doubles up as your office, it's hard to measure, or feel like you're really going places (apart from the kitchen to fix up on more pitta bread and Earl Grey) but it definitely feels like a lot has changed since I was sat in my room in Liverpool, when this blog was a sole outlet for all rambles and the occasional and rushed outfit photograph taken by whoever I could rope in, and who didn't mind enduring 10 minutes of my awkward posing...

It's a combination of emotions, and essentially the ruling of 'what if'- that naughty old saying. Being self employed, especially writing a blog and essentially documenting your life on the internet, can often feel like you're not really doing much at all. It started off as a hobby after all, so essentially doing something you once did in your spare time can be a little hard to get used to, especially as a career- and one that you never planned to land yourself in. Being your own boss can be one of the trickiest things to get used to (especially where self discipline is required) (I recently wrote a little more about that here, if you fancy taking a look).

This isn't me complaining in any stretch of the imagination either, don't get me wrong. I know how lucky I am to be able to write this little piece of the internet every day, and fortunately still living at home- have the support, patience and consistent Instagram likes of my parents to do so (thanks Mama and Papa P). Maybe I'm a bit hard on myself, and I know that comparing oneself to another is never a good idea (but boy am I good at it)- and perhaps its weeks like this one where I need to give myself a little pat on the back for the past few years, especially as everyone else (deservedly) is. In my time, I managed to intern for a year and a half, work in a good retail job (and meet some amazing people there), wait a few tables (and realise I'm far too weak to ever hold more than two plates), do a bit of travelling (Viva Las Vegas!)- and ultimately now get to call What Olivia Did my full time job, which at the end of the day should be the biggest reward of them all, right?

Perhaps it a slight tinge of envy, that I'll never have to pick a graduation dress (plus will always be @livpurvis over Liv Purvis BSc) and maybe what Olivia didn't do (hohoho) was get a degree, but I've certainly taken a different route round, and I'm (hoping), I mean, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't change a thing (except for the fact I'm sure my postman thinks I sit in my pyjamas for a living, which isn't strictly true)!



  1. Oh, Liv! What a lovely post!

    I technically graduated today as my certificate arrived in the post. I decided not to attend my ceremony because I never felt as if university was for me, or at least my heart wasn't in my course but it took me until the final year to realise so, so I pushed myself forward to finish it without much effort. I think your decision to leave university at the right moment was truly bold and brave, and clearly it was the right decision. It's something I wish I had did 3 years back so my life could have taken a path I was more suited to.

    Don't ever doubt yourself for if you had not taken that plunge you wouldn't be in the hugely influential position you are as a blogger today! Also, isn't that the dream to work full-time from your PJ's? I know it certainly is my dream!

    1. This is basically exactly how I felt! I knew my course was wrong in the first semester of the first year but didn't have the courage to drop out/change subjects. So wish I had!



  2. Aw don't worry about it, you have done really great things with your life already and build a wonderful established blog that I love to read and inspires so many people! You don't need a degree for that! You are doing what you love and that is so great and I am glad that you enjoy it as much as I enjoy looking at your blog. Keep up the hard work!


  3. I graduated from University last year but I firmly believe that it is not for everyone despite what society may say. My friend dropped out of Uni in his final year because it just wasn't for him. The most important thing is to do and engage in something that you enjoy :) X

  4. this is a really great post I can relate to Liv. I'm only 20 but my friends will graduate one day and having chosen to not go to uni, I won't get a degree. But I've been building up my skills in social media, doing internships and my blog, and I've been featured in COMPANY so it shows you can be successful without a degree, it's just something we have to miss out on in order to achieve happiness :)
    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Fashion Lifestyle + Photography - www.brittonloves.blogspot.co.uk

  5. I have been feeling exactly the same recently since my Facebook feed is covered in graduation gowns, as you say though, what you've achieved is amazing and as they always say, the grass isn't always greener on the other side!
    Frankie Boo Blog

  6. Loved reading this Liv! I often ponder my decision to go to Uni (it was a decision I made in approximately 2.5 minutes after hearing there were opportunities to travel in my course!) and still find it difficult to work out where I'm headed. Even with a degree under my belt, I'm not sure what I truly want to be doing and often consider heading back down the freelance path! At the end of the day, its what makes you happy that counts, right?

  7. While I think graduating university is a pretty phenomenal thing, speaking as a recent graduant, doing what you love for a living and pursuing your dreams is a very special thing! You've done a great job with your blog, I know I for one love it, so i think it's time for that pat on the back. X


  8. I think a lot of people can relate to this. I waited two years to go to university because I wasn't in the right frame of mind. A lot of my friends have already graduated and it can be really tough feeling as though I'm behind them. I think that we have to make peace with the fact that that we have chosen a different path in life and trust that we have made the right choices.

  9. This is a great post. While Uni is great for some people, there's absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to pave your own path instead.

    Honestly, I don't really think I got much out of my Uni experience and for me it was just a waste of money and a few years I can't get back. I wish I'd realised Uni wasn't for me and it was perfectly okay to decide to move on and do something else with my time instead of sticking it out and not enjoying it at all.

    Also, #GIRLBOSS is a great book.. such a good read! & I totally feel you on the Postman thing.. I think he actually has a shock when I'm dressed and about to head out of the door! haha

    //A Midnight Wonderland

  10. This is a really lovely post, I love the book 'F*ck I'm in my twenties' that made me smile.

  11. I dropped out of university too, so I can definitely relate to this. I would have graduated two years ago which is absolute madness to even think about, but I know I'm so much happier now being self employed. It's occasionally a bit of a struggle making ends meet, and I do occasionally think "what if.." like you, but it could have ended up struggling to get a job with endless amounts of debt, rather than finding a perfect job and living happily ever after!

    Catherine, xo // Lady Liquor

  12. I graduated a year ago and I can tell you, even as graduates from college, we also have self-doubt and we also compare ourselves to those who didn't graduate from college yet were starting fulfilling careers.

    Nevertheless, your accomplishments are just as impressive as someone who is graduating. It's all hard work, discipline, and patience so even if you are not in a graduation gown this week, KUDOS!

  13. Look at what you were able to achieve without a degree! You've had amazing opportunities and I think it's pretty amazing that you were able to build yourself up to where you potentially will never need a degree in your professional life. That's huge--especially in this day and age! Congrats on everything :))
    p.s. I really love your blog:)

    Kinza xxx

  14. Don't feel down or jealous of those who have graduated. I graduated last year and I'm trying to get where you are, still in the baby steps of blogging (as you can clearly tell).
    Be proud of what you've achieve, I am !

  15. Don't worry about it, Liv! Dropping out isn't a failure at all (unless you actually failed your exams...)
    We all like to say 'what if' and think the grass is green on everyone else's side. But the grass will only be green where YOU water it!
    You have done so well for yourself being your own boss at such a young age *applauds*.
    Just keep on doing you and everything will fall into place much quicker than you think! :)
    *PS - did you know the author of F*ck, I'm in my Twenties is the sister of the lead singer of Vampire Weekend? :)

  16. I bet there are plenty of people who have just graduated who wish they were in your situation instead. I really enjoyed my time at university but I wish I'd have had the guts to do what you did x


  17. I went to a university and graduated over a year ago and I can still really relate to how you're feeling. Going to college doesn't guarantee you anything. While I have a degree and some great memories and a lot more knowledge than I had when I went in, I still live at home and don't even have a full time job! It's different for everyone. Everything comes in its own time!

    xx, m. see


  18. I've just finished sixth form and rather than going to university I've decided to get an Australian working visa and just see where life takes me. As excited as I am, theres still that worry in my mind that I 'won't get anywhere in life' or I'll 'amount to nothing' without a degree.. but looking at you, and your success has helped me just that bit, with proof that a degree isn't for everyone, and without being 'contracted' to a 3 year uni course, gives me endless possibilities of what I could do (rather than it being spent in a lecture theatre!).xx


  19. Chin up buttercup, sometimes it's scary making your own way and your own path. But it's waaaaaaay more rewarding. Can you imagine yourself doing anything else?

  20. I literally just wrote a post about graduating! I aways knew I was going to go to uni but in the end it was a big struggle to finish my final year and I really lost my drive. I did end up going back to uni to do a postgrad and it got me a great job I enjoy so it's worked out. But I think our society puts a lot of emphasis on higher education when it's not everyone's cup of tea. One day you might go back to uni when you can be in a different situation. Never say never! It most certainly doesn't diminish your achievements by any stretch of the imagination!
    Nina from little nomad

  21. I should have graduated this year too but due to personal circumstances I didn't go back and finish my final year and now I'm not sure I want to. It seems so much stress and graduate jobs are so sparse a degree doesn't mean much anymore.

    I think you should be so proud of what your doing and have achieved. You don't need a piece of paper to realise how intelligent and great at your job you are!

  22. I need these books, uni isn't all its cracked up to be these days!

    Sophie x

  23. Perfect post! You have achieved so much, requiring even more self motivation than completing a degree does! Congrats, and be proud of yourself and your lovely blog, that we all enjoy so much.

    Shot From The Street | Fashion Blog

  24. Most of my friends from school and others my age graduated last year and the previous summer, whereas I'll graduate next year. I was never sure that uni was right for me - I completed one 60 credit science course (a full year!) at the Open University before realising I couldn't continue (it got increasingly tough and I was really struggling). I ended up going to art school to do a BA in Fine Art on a whim after that, and here I am now, about to go into my third year. I have struggled with this course (the second year was definitely THE WORST), but I'm excited and scared for third year as I'm really getting into my work now, am close to finishing the first draft of my major critical project, and am hoping to use this year to further myself as much as possible so I'm in the best position for REAL LIFE when I graduate next year. I'm still worried I'll fail though, or get rubbish marks, or finish uni only to be struggling to get anywhere in the next stage of my life. I'm really scared! I'm trying to be positive, enjoy myself, and do my best, but damn, it's all gonna be weird.

    I keep feeling like I'm not doing enough lately, but I'm doing loads! Glad to see posts about this floating around, it really helps.

  25. Everything you have achieved (deservedly so), degree or no degree is fantastic. I think it is necessary for people thinking about going to university to know that it isn't the only option! x

  26. i always felt like this after university! i wish i just had my blog as my main job. perfect life!


  27. I adore this post Liv and I'm sure it wasn't easy to write.

    I'm awaiting my A Level results and currently undecided about whether or not uni is for me. I love blogging, working with brands and I love the fashion industry. The thought of studying Psychology for 5 years (yes, 5!) doesn't exactly fill me with joy right now. But who knows? That may change over the course of the summer.

    Anyway, sorry for rambling. I loved this post and I think you're so brave for making the decision to blog full-time. You've made it a huge success and you're still growing!

    So here's a pat on the back from me. Well done.

    Beth xo.


  28. I for one am extremely glad you didn't graduate as I love your blog, I regularly wait for your new posts and scroll through your beautiful pictures. Things work out differently for people and it seems that what Olivia did... has worked out exceptionally well for you. xxxx

    Alana Says…//www.alana-says.blogspot.co.uk//Fashion and lifestyle blog

  29. I went to University, Then straight into being self employed until I had a baby and now I'm a full time blogger. I didn't actually use my degree once! You've just started the work game ahead of your friends but you'll be no different to them. x


  30. You're the most amazing blogger ever!

  31. if it makes you feel any better at all, I did get a degree and I don't use it for anything. and I mean anything. I know that sounds ungrateful, and I don't mean it to be, but degrees aren't everything anymore. there are million things to do in this world without one. look at you! you're doing it!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  32. This time last year everyone I went to high school with was graduating & had just finished up my first (successful) year at art school after a horrid stint at Law school and I remember feeling like such a failure, but the thing is uni isn't for everyone and we're pushed into it at such a young age. I think it's better to have some time out to figure out what you really want to do, or if uni is even right for you. A degree doesn't mean a job or even getting to do what you love, whereas you are a success and have created a fantastic blog that's a joy to read. So don't focus on the what if, you chose the right path for you, life is to short not to chase what you love or do what you enjoy.
    Thank you for such a great post :)

    Jeanette x


  33. You've achieved so much in the last few years and should be so proud! University isn't for everyone and that's absolutely fine. I can't say I enjoyed my time at university at all but somehow managed to get through it and end up with a good degree. What's funny is that I'm doing something completely different now and working for myself, so in hindsight, if I could do it again I probably wouldn't go back! Then again I sometimes think that maybe if I didn't go, things wouldn't have worked out the same way.

    Anyway sorry for the ramble, what I really wanted to say is that you have done wonderfully well over the last few years and I wish you and this fabulous blog all the best for the future! xo

  34. Good post, I went to uni and graduated, but it's all about marching to your own drum beat. I'm glad to see how well its gone so well for you :)


  35. Great post, xx

  36. Lovely post, it's good you didn't continue with something you don't currently want or need, it can be soul destroying.

    But - you're never too old to get a degree. It may happen one day if you change your mind. I have one and it's a specialist one in arts that I HAD to have to do what I do as a career, but I'm now thinking of doing another, for interest.

  37. Loved this post. Some of the most successful people I know dropped out of uni or never went in the first place! When I took my gap year, I found that I learned just as much working and living out in the 'real world' as I did when I started my degree :)
    - Keyta

  38. awesome!!

  39. I think you should mega proud you entrepreneur you ... It's what many wish they could do, but never have the balls to take on!

    I did the A typical route, study my arse off, got into uni, interned and graduated, and have now been working for many many years and am so proud to have had the career and promotions I've had to get me to a Director!!

    That said, and whilst my career is priority número uno, and I've done super well especially for my age, sometimes I think what if I started my blog a little earlier (before my career took off) could it maybe have been something more than a hobby?! I don't feel I'm really in a position now to jump the career ship and take a risk on the blog (too much to lose / sensible vs not enough entrepreneurial spirit) but if I was to one day have a change of heart ... Running my blog full time would be something I would absolutely dream of doing!

    You should seriously be proud that you've made that decision and run a successful and wonderful blog! It may be easy to take for granted your success or be hard on yourself about stuff ... But you really should take those moments to pat yourself on your back, to praise your work and boast that you run your own business!

    I think it's incredible and an inspiring case of what not going to uni can achieve, if it's not the right thing for you!

    Props to you Liv xx


  40. This post is inspiring beyond words. I had been looking forward to reading what you had to say about this topic. Believe me, you are more successful than mostly anyone I've known online or offline, most of which have gone to university but have settled for everyday office jobs. I really admire you for making your own path and making such a huge decision without feeling the need to please anyone but yourself. I wish I were more brave like that. I'm starting to be, but not quite.

    I feel that the majority of my 20's so far has literally been wasted at university- after 7 years, I'm still trying to obtain my degree (I know, I know, it's a little awkward to admit that at times) because along the way, I have become distracted by feelings of uncertainty and struggling a lot to keep my motivation. I have unfortunately let several years slip by me where I just felt so pointless. University, believe it or not, has crushed my self-esteem to a certain extent. I would feel worse, I think, if I quit at this point because like I said, I have already been in for years, but after I graduate (when, oh when will that be?!), I refuse to let anything make me as unhappy as my educational experience has made me.

    That said, people like you give me hope that life outside of university can be enjoyable and that it is really what you make it. I just really cannot express how much this post has helped me. :) xx

  41. What a lovely post:) so inspiring to read that you don't need a degree to be successful.

  42. I'm really struggling with my university course. I'm about to start third year and I've known for nine months already that I don't want to work in my degree subject. But I love my university and I love the people I've met here so I've stayed.
    You've got so far without university and honestly I'm so envious of all you've achieved!


  43. good for you!! I think uni is sooo over rated! I could of got where I am in my cosy PR & Marketing job without going to uni... only I'd now be 2 or 3 years ahead of where I am now! I think uni for our generation became a culture, hopefully one that is now breaking as more and more graduates step out into the real world jobless and with no prospects...

    I'm glad I went to uni for the life experience and meeting amazing friends.. but really I shouldn't have followed the crowds

    Good for you!

    Kirsty x

  44. Today's the one-year anniversary of my graduation day and I'm still as proud as I've ever been of my achievement. But people rank achievements differently, and academia is not the be-all and end-all of life! My boyfriend is one of the smartest people I have ever known - he shunned university and was lost for a little while but now he's found a job that he absolutely loves fixing bikes and I couldn't be prouder. He's so happy in what he does - that's what's really important.

    We should all be proud of the individual things we achieve - imagine how boring life would be if everyone just went to uni and came out with an identikit qualification. You've built something from the ground up, and whether it ends up being a bona fide career or a springboard to something even better, you should be so proud of everything you've achieved, degree or no degree :)

  45. I only went because it was free in Wales when I went and all my friends went so I didn't want to be alone. It's made no real difference to my life and the job I do doesn't require a degree. I think it's only worth going if you have something in particular in mind. You can always go back and study at any point so you might feel like blogging wont be what you want to do in the future and you could study business, marketing or journalism... It seems like it's all worked out perfectly for you and you are exactly where you should be xxx

  46. I've finished my first year of University and I'm still not sure that it's exactly what I want to do! Your such an inspiration Liv, how you've turned your dream into a reality!

    Megan xo
    Thumbelina Lillie | UK Beauty Blog

  47. Such a great post, uni isn't the be all and end all!


  48. Just to echo what everyone else has said really...you should be so proud of your achievements and your blog. That takes alot of guts. It is so easy to compare yourself to other people, and I think we forget sometimes we are on our own paths and and need to find our own happiness, which is such a personal thing.


  49. I think you are hugely successful and have worked exceptionally hard to become a blogging prodigy! You have achieved so much already and have so many years ahead of you to explore all sorts of different adventures and, you never know, you may even wish to take up further study at a later stage in life. xxx

  50. Thank you for writing this post, I knew I wasn't the only one who does think on not having a degree. It was something that I have always wanted but decided against it at the last minute. You should be (& I know you are) so proud of what you have achieved through your, hobby especially at such a young age, most people take half their lives to turn what they love doing into a job. It just goes to show that you don't need to be academic, or own a degree to achieve what you want in life! <3


  51. I'm going to Uni and I still don't know if it's a good idea! I'd much rather be doing my blog full time- you're living the dream ;)

  52. I really enjoyed reading this post, because I've long been debating whether to go to uni or not. Most of my friends are on their second year, most of them because it is expected of their families. Personally my parents really pushed for me to go to uni straight after secondary school, but I think it is important to explore other possibilities and really take time to decide if it is for you, after all it is a pretty big commitment.

  53. I think you can be really proud of what you've achieved so far. Degrees don't make everything. I have a degree, I went to Uni for 3 years but I am currently unemployed and frustrated because I cannot find any job so... In the end, university or not, it's all about hard work to get what we want and, for that, you are an inspiration ;)


  54. Such an inspiring post. I love the #GirlBoss book!


  55. It's great to hear someone say that you don't actually need a degree to succeed, Liv. I think so many are pushed into going to university these days when it might not necessarily be the best move for them.

    For me, university was a great decision, and a degree was necessary for my career. But that's not to say that in the eight years since I started uni that someone couldn't have achieved the same with a bit of hard work and perserverance - like you have.

    It might look like shameless self promotion(!!) but I wrote this post on the lessons I have learnt since graduating. If anyone feels a bit lost post-uni, I urge you read it. I wish someone had said the same to me five years ago! http://www.chicandcheerful.net/2014/07/university-five-years-on-lessons.html

  56. You've definitely proved you don't have to go down the uni route to do well. You have such great, well-deserved success with this blog so congratulations on that! :)

    Cup of Loveliness

  57. Great post Olivia. You should be really proud of yourself as your achievements with your blog are no mean feat. Degrees don't mean as much as everyone thinks - I have one and I don't think it's got me any further in life. People value life experience a lot more x

  58. This was a really great post & so inspiring for those on the cusp of a university education!
    I graduated three years ago this month & despite finishing my degree I have to be honest - I really didn't enjoy my university experience. At all! Every year my accommodation got me down & I never seemed to actually have any teaching time. In the end I spent the majority of my final year away from it all, only ever venturing back for the occasional seminar. I wish I'd had the guts to do something about it sooner, but such is life. Thank you for sharing :-)

    Victoria x

  59. I feel like this sometimes, especially now with everyone posing for their grad photos. Saying that though, I wouldn't have been graduating until next year, but still, the "woohoo passed 2nd year" status are kind of a massive reminder that I never went and worked towards a degree.
    I like to live without regret and I don't really regret not going away to study at uni, because when I was 18 I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do or what direction I was headed.
    You're doing really well for yourself and I hope you realise that :)
    Enjoy your Sunday x

  60. What you did do was find a job you love!

  61. I love your blog! :) I`m really glad you get to do something you really like! I want my blog to get big enough for it to be considered a job-ish type thing, but for right now it`s a rlly fun thing that I do for fun! :)
    <3 kaite

  62. well i'm kind of in the unique position of having graduated and now working full time on my blog, very similar to Kristable I guess. I'm very glad I went to uni (went lat at 22) but now I'm working one something I love, even though money is tight it's still where I want to be. It's hard and sometimes the projects aren't as regular as I'd like but you just to to try. If we can full time full time bizz off it's surely the best job ever?

    Buckets & Spades

  63. I honestly don't think degrees are everything especially if you're not enjoying it or if you find something you can enjoy a lot more!

    I passed my chemistry degree last year (but only just!) and I actually regret going and not quitting when I realised I wasn't enjoying it anymore! But i was told I needed to finish it and that it would make finding a job so much easier etc etc... when in actual fact I'm now doing something completely unrelated to my degree and much happier doing so! My regret is not doing it sooner!

    I think university is great don't get me wrong but I think there's too much pressure on people to go/ stick it out even when they realise it's not for them - university isn't the be all and end all - you can make something of yourself without it, and I think your a real inspiration to those who have been in or are in a similar situation. You've lots to be proud of!

    Gabby xo

    Blog - What She Buys / Instagram / Twitter

  64. I want them!
    so good

  65. I really liked this post as I felt it gave a bit more insight into your life, I didn't realise all of that about Uni and blogging full time til I read this. Don't let those 'what ifs' bother you as look at far you have come with your blog! It is amazing and successful and you did it all on your own! Not many people can say that. I just recently graduated and I too find myself comparing myself to others. At the end of the day it's all about being happy, and you love what you do and are happy with it and that is what is important, so congratulations to you for all your hard work and success! :D


  66. I love this post, I sometimes feel the same even though I am one of those people filling the timelines in my cap 'n' gown. Even though I have a degree, I feel the same as you (currently sat on the end of my bed in a towel, with a face mask blogging) but it's all about enjoying what you're doing and the hard work you put in - office or not! You're blog inspires SO many and brings smiles and chuckles to your followers on a daily basis, so you have loads to be proud of.

    I wrote a little blog on becoming a graduate if you fancied a read, there's a pretty interesting video on there too :) http://immymay.com/2014/07/22/graduation/

    Immy X

  67. You can never measure up to another's achievements but seek solace in the truth of your reality.
    Life is a tosser (to be quite honest) and Lord knows what would have happened if you did go to Uni? But look at the success you've been able to cultivate in the alternative!
    We can't all run the same race; defeats the purpose of us being individuals in our own right

    BLEURGH - http://www.bleurghnow.com

  68. My sister never went to university, and I did - we both say those are the best decisions we;ve ever made. It's really not for everyone, and it doesn't guarantee you a dream job! I bet you've learned so much more than many others :) Congratulations on your amazing achievements! You don't need to wear a silly hat for it to be recognised :)

    Jo xx

    She Wears Burgundy


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