Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 March 2018

Don't lose heart when your dreams get crushed

Acceptance of a changed reality can open up exciting new pathways

A few years ago, before I decided to become an entrepreneur, I had one goal in mind, and that was to become a researcher.

For those who know me, this may come as a shock. At that time, I had just obtained my master’s degree from Leeds, in northern England, and wanted to expand on my dissertation and work on it full time.

I applied to my dream university. Everything went smoothly. I was sent an acceptance letter and was mentally prepared to travel back to England to pursue my PhD degree. I even picked an apartment and decided which social clubs to join.

A couple of months before the start of the academic year, my research group sent me an email telling me that they wanted to alter the topic we were going to work on. That came to me as a surprise. I was so passionate about my proposed research topic and did not want to change it, but the faculty could not be of help.


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I also did not want to apply to any other university. I tried and tried to resolve the situation, but there was no point. In the end I decided to step down because I did not want to work on a topic that did not excite me as much, and boy, it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Had I gone down that university route, I would not be where I am today. My whole life would have been totally different.

The thing about crushed dreams is that each and every one of us has a story to share. As an entrepreneur, you will also face many of those, from clients’ rejecting your proposals to someone stealing your idea.

Are there any valuable lessons to learn from crushed dreams? Plenty. Here are a few pointers to help you recover should it happen to you.

Don’t over analyse

When that dream of mine was crushed, I wanted to find a substitute for the gap I felt straight away. I had been so occupied with it that I suddenly felt empty. My friends and people I admired, advised me not to do so and to spend time letting the idea sink in.

In fact they encouraged me to go on a vacation. I did. I took two weeks off and went on a trip with my cousins. I felt fresh afterwards.

Face the truth

I remember when I was first dealt the blow, I cried for days and wondered why this had happened to me; what had I done wrong to be punished that way? What helped me was to speak to people I looked up to, who reminded me that change always brought good things with it and that, even though I felt I was at the lowest point of my life, there would be a silver lining.


Accepting the situation was one of the hardest things to do. I kept asking myself questions and wondering if I had done things differently would I have reaped different results? The questions just kept on racing in my mind. Acceptance, although painful, was one of the crucial steps to moving on. It allowed me to find peace with myself, eliminate self-blame and rekindled excitement in me about what the future might hold. Accepting the situation allowed me to explore other goals and dreams. It reminded me of my passion for writing and communication, and allowed me to pursue those areas now that I had time to do so.

A few months after acceptance, I began my writing career, launched a small fashion line and worked in communication. I never looked back. In fact, I even wondered what I was so worked up about. Had I pursued my PhD degree, I would have embarked on a different route, one that may not have been as exciting as my entrepreneurial life is. I also discovered that researching, although I liked it at the time, was not really my true passion.

And while the pain of crushed dreams can be unbearable for a while, these steps helped me get back on track and slowly build my new life.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing

consultancy in Abu Dhabi.

Twitter: @manar_alhinai