How to Survive a Broken Dream

I wasn’t smart enough to do it right the first time.

I wasn’t fast enough.

I didn’t research enough.

I was worried about money.

I thought it would be easy, but it kicked my ass over and over. I still kept going, because it was my dream.

I never gave up on it, until the universe gave up on me instead. Or at least, that’s what it felt like when my dream failed.

And now, it’s hard to know why I should give a damn about the universe. I gave up so much.

I feel alone.

We have three choices before us in the darkness, when we fumble around for a light switch.


We can lose faith in ourselves. We can lose faith that we could ever try again.

Our sadness feels so heavy and physically painful, we make a promise to never experience it again.

We convince ourselves that the problem with the dream was us. We were never up to the task.


We can lose faith in the universe. No one got it, and they should’ve. Stupid universe. We become a little psychopathic.

Both paths, one and two, are set-ups to avoid pain. Many of us stop there, right there before the real pain.

My feeling is that if you stop here, you may as well just take a shovel, find yourself a spot, and bury yourself right now. You’ve decided to die (along with your broken dream).


You cut you and the universe a break.

You’re not fundamentally good or bad, and neither is the universe. Broken dreams reflect some things you could have done differently, and some things that could have gone your way in the broader scope outside of your control. You could have used some luck, maybe. And in hindsight, you could have made smarter choices.

Despite all the pain, you ask yourself, what have I learned that I can apply again? How can I hone my own capabilities? How can I align my next efforts with the realities of the universe?

Can I research more beforehand? Yes.

Can I work hard to become a better copywriter? Yes.

Can make sure I have more than enough funds to see me through my project the next time? Yes.

In other words, how can you take more personal responsibility for your effort rather than judge yourself for the outcome?

I used to run. I used to hire healers to help me feel better about the fact that I was running away from trying again instead of improving myself and what I was capable of. They never worked. They never mended my broken dreams.

I never got answers. Just a question, “How would you like to try again?”

Broken dreams, broken hearts, broken places, broken bodies.

There is a beauty in these changes that is damned near impossible to see in the midst of the breaking.

After all is said and done, when everything you thought you once knew has been swept aside without your consent, there is an uncomfortable peace. A time when your old self feels like you should be doing something, but your body says, “Do nothing, at least for a little while.”

Don’t fret. It’s the calm after the storm. Broken dreams is tough business. You’ve gone through a lot. You deserve a sweet pause.

There will be plenty of time to rebuild later.

When it’s time, remember this. What will you choose to believe about the story of your broken dream?

Will it be empowering? Or a tale of giving up? Will you let your broken dream become an excuse?

Broken dreams can be beautiful. You get to choose.

Jane Hwangbo
Jane Hwangbo

Founder, LucidPi

Jane is the founder of LucidPi, a mindfulness app that uses contemplative play practices to alleviate stress and increase calm in our daily lives. The app is currently in development, and the beta will be released in Spring 2018. Jane is also an accomplished financial advisor.

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