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Results Day Felt Like The End of The World, But Now I’m Glad I Got a 2:2

I wasn’t surprised when I found out I’d missed out on a 2:1.

I’d never particularly enjoyed academia and I knew my heart, and brain, weren’t in it. I did, however, feel like my life was over before it had even properly started when the reality of my 2:2 and its ramifications began to sink in.

Telling my parents the news was hard; I’d already come in way below par for my GCSEs and A-Levels, and university was where I was supposed to turn things around. To some extent, I had. I was one of the lucky few in my friendship group who had landed a graduate job in consulting with a £33,000 starting salary and a £10,000 signing bonus. Unfortunately, the job offer was conditional on me achieving a 2:1.

After calling my parents with the news, the HR manager in the big consulting company was next on my list. This job was my ticket to adult life, an amazing career and the feeling of finally ‘making it’. The news didn’t go down well. A 2:1 was one of their “key vetting criteria”, they said. They told me to call back the following Monday, and then Wednesday, and then Friday. Three weeks after I made the initial call, and after about fifteen follow-up calls, I still didn’t know if I still had a job offer. I was told the issue had been escalated to the Head of Recruitment.

photo provided

photo provided

While my friends were enjoying the novelty of being graduands, I was gripped with uncertainty. I thought I had everything planned out: I’d found three other Durham grads to live with in London and we’d even begun looking for somewhere to live, as we all needed to be moved in to start work at the end of August.

Unsurprisingly, my graduation day wasn’t much of a celebration.

I was approached a few times by friends from my course who didn’t know about my job offer purgatory, who, in front of my parents, went on to congratulate me on the job and wish me luck. I’ve never felt as pathetic in my life as I did when I went on to explain my situation. “It’ll be alright mate, things always work out for you” became a regular line that people used to reassure me. It didn’t help relieve me from the constant feeling of trepidation.

I remember clearing out my university room and going through all the random tack I’d collected over my three years at uni, it made me think about how much I’d enjoyed university and how unfair this ending was.

It’s hard to put into words what I felt at that time other than the feeling that I was an absolute failure. 

Two days later, I was in the toilets of Edinburgh Dungeons – my girlfriend, Lizzie, had taken me away on a short break to celebrate graduation and to take my mind off of everything – and I got a phone call from an unknown number at 17:39 on Friday evening. It was the HR manager from the big consulting company, she had called to rescind my job offer. Like the news of my 2:2, this wasn’t entirely a surprise. After weeks of waiting I had thought that this was going to be the likely outcome, but that didn’t make it any less terrifying.

As I walked out of the toilet and back into the gift shop I just stared at Lizzie. She saw me dejectedly slide my phone back into my pocket and she instantly knew what had happened. I asked her to take me back to the hotel, where we ordered Domino’s for dinner as I couldn’t face being around people. It’s hard to put into words what I felt at that time other than the feeling that I was an absolute failure.

After our weekend in Edinburgh, Lizzie and I drove back home to Manchester. It was time to move back in with the parents. My mum and dad were really supportive. They tried to pick me up every time I ventured out of my room, but it turns out I was remarkably good at locking myself away.

photo provided

photo provided

Looking back at that those four or five weeks after results day now, it’s easy to see that I was depressed.

I wasn’t just sad or disappointed with how things had turned out, I was constantly anxious and consumed by the feeling that my world was crumbling around me. I had gone from having a well thought-out Plan A to having no plan at all.

I was extremely lucky to have such a supportive group of friends and family around me at that time; they helped me realise that my life was only just beginning and that there were a few practical steps I could take to get back to ‘normality’. I got back into a routine of doing a 5km run every day, which I had discovered I loved in my final year of uni. It gave me a reason to actually get out of bed every day.

Confronting rejection and the disappointment of my 2:2 allowed me to re-evaluate the track I was on. 

The next step was to tackle my now non-existent income. My £6 per hour job at Next was liberating at 17 as it gave me the means and freedom to get out of the house. So I made the phone call to my old manager and asked for my job back. Sure, it wasn’t £33,000 a year with a £10,000 signing bonus, but it was going to start helping me pay off my massive overdraft and leave me with a bit of spare change to actually do something with all the time I had on my hands.

It’s funny, but going for a run every day and earning £200 per week were critical to getting me out of that anxiety-ridden period of my life. My final step in getting over my 2:2 and lost job offer was to accept them and move on. It’s easy to say this now, but the idea that it’s OK to not have a plan is empowering. Yeah, the next five or ten years of my life were no longer mapped out, but I wasn’t a failure, and if I was – my failure was actually an opportunity.

I’m not sure how much of me applying for that consulting job came from me really wanting to do it and how much of it was just me doing what I thought I should do. It would’ve looked good, and like I was succeeding, but I’m not sure it would’ve made me happy. Confronting rejection and the disappointment of my 2:2 allowed me to re-evaluate the track I was on and where I was going.

With a new sense of empowerment, I started to think about all the things I wanted to do with my life.

Top of my list was starting a business, followed in close second by seeing the world. Three months after receiving the news of my 2:2, I began to work on my list. I started a business from the confines of my bedroom; four walls that previously were a metaphor for my depression were now the foundations of the next chapter of my life. Six years later, that once bedroom-based business, GradTouch, is now a 28 person team that is slowly but surely allowing me tick off number 2 on my list: see the world.

My 2:2 did not mark the end of my life but, somewhat surprisingly, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.

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