When your plans aren’t life’s plans

Do you remember being 20 years old and having a plan for how your life was going to pan out? In my 20-year old mind, I would go to graduate school at some fancy school in the States, I’d be married to my then-boyfriend by the time I was 25, and I was totally keen to have my first child by 28. I’m 30 and none of that happened.

In my early twenties, I spent a lot of time in the States. I was in love with a guy from Ohio, and since visa issues didn’t allow me to work there, I applied for unpaid internships so my parents would support my decision to be in America for months at a time – at least, I was building my CV, right?! I did this for about 4 years – back and forth between Malta and Ohio. My plan was to get as much research experience through my internships as possible, and then apply to graduate schools.


We regret to inform you…

Getting into graduate school was a much different ballgame than I’d anticipated. It turned out, that I actually had to apply to a department within the school as opposed to the school itself, and typically, the department was looking to take on one grad student each year. Each department would receive hundreds of applications for one post.

Most of the time, the people accepted already had their foot in the door somehow – they did their undergrad at the university and took classes with the head of the department, for example. Being some unknown girl from some tiny island very few people had heard about, the odds were seriously against me. But I applied anyway. And I didn’t get in – I didn’t even get an interview.


Where am I?

After being rejected from all the schools I applied to, I decided to come back to Malta for a while. A few months after that my-then boyfriend and I ended our relationship! 20-year old me thought he and I would be together forever.

Everything I felt was for sure, was no longer. I applied for a few different jobs here and after about 3 months, I was hired by an architecture firm to take care of their PR. I kept wondering how I ended up there. I knew nothing about architecture, and to be honest, I didn’t know much about PR either! I was nowhere near grad school in the States, I was doing something totally brand new to me and I wondered if I had failed.


Hey Cinderella! Is this your shoe?

And then something weird started to happen. I enjoyed my unplanned job. I made friends, I learned a lot about the creative process from these crazy architects, and I developed skills I didn’t know I had from being in a role I had never been in before. I also met a really cute guy there – yep, you guessed it, Pete 🙂

The pang to further my psychology studies didn’t go away, so I applied to grad school here, and I got in! It wasn’t what I had planned but I loved it. The Gestalt post grad was all about the therapist’s self-growth. You couldn’t just teach the concepts of balanced living, you had to integrate the teachings to be able to practice living a balanced life. It fit my values perfectly.


“Goals overshadow guidance” – Gabrielle Bernstein

In the past 10 years, one of the main lessons I’ve learned is that the more I resist what life sends me, and the more I try to control the outcome, the more I struggle. Sometimes my plans are just not on life’s agenda. And though it can hurt, and good Lord, sometimes life can really hurt, there’s always beauty that grows from the pain.


With love,



Published by

Emma Hogg, Founder of A Life I Choose

Hi! I'm Emma. I’m a psychotherapist who lives, breathes and eats the science of joyfulness, wellness and achievement. All the work I do is fuelled by my deep wish to belong to a world where people actively choose their lives! A person without choice is an unhappy individual. A person who passionately and resiliently lives their purpose experiences joy and fulfilment daily. If you’re like me and you see that the more people are consciously engaging in life, the happier our world will be, then we need you to be a beacon of this message by living it! My blog is one of my ways of creating dialogue with you, so that together, we can have a greater impact on our world. x

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