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Well, if my subconscious mind thinks so…

high schoolLast night I had one of those dreams that feels insanely real…and raw.

Here’s what went down: I walked into my high school, and realized that I hadn’t been going to classes for pretty much the whole year, and everyone was getting ready for final exams. I don’t know what I was doing instead of going to class, but I know that I didn’t feel sad about it – whatever I’d been doing was apparently much better. But I knew it was wrong that I’d missed school.

So, I’m going to my classes totally lost, I don’t even recognize my teachers, but all of my friends do – and it starts to hit me that I’m really screwed. I can’t even remember my locker combination. And when I finally got in, all the locker held were a few wadded up pieces of paper – no books, no help.

As I ran around, frantic, trying to figure out what I was going to do, I realized that if I could just figure out, or rather remember, the French alphabet, then I would be okay. I was desperately trying to find this elusive French alphabet – it was my only way out. I was trying to say the first few letters to my friends hoping they’d help, but they had no idea what I was talking about. My panic escalated torrentially as I realized that I was going to fail high school. The weight of that felt life ending.

And then the entire mood of the dream changed.

I’ve always been a very vivid dreamer. My dreams are like novels – long, winding, full of insane amounts of detail. They usually take about 10 minutes just to retell in the morning. This one was no different, and my most lucid detail from last night is when the dream shifted. I was walking to my seat in English (literally the same one from my Sophomore year), listening to everyone around me talk confidently, excitedly about the final. And suddenly, I realized that I didn’t really care. I knew I wasn’t going to graduate, but I couldn’t wrap my head around why that actually mattered. I was acutely aware of the fact that I was doing something different with my life now. And, I filled with calm.

Then the building started to explode and there were vampires and werewolves everywhere trying to save me (which allowed me to maintain my newly found good feelings), but that’s a whole ‘nother session on the couch post. And eventually, I woke up.

The point is that I was in a desperately bad situation where the only straw I had to cling to was saturated with failure. I felt totally lost and terrified. Then, I realized that I had taken a different direction, so the disaster no longer applied to me, I didn’t have to fit into that picture anymore – the tragic one. And suddenly all of those horrid and panicky feelings were gone. Poof. Vaporized.

Hmmm. When what we’re doing is so at odds with what’s going on around us, when what we truly want flows in the opposite direction of what we think we’re supposed to want – isn’t that what causes us distress? If we stop trying to fit our feet into our gloves, maybe it will stop being so damn uncomfortable.

Image credit: Dean Terry

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Ron Miller says:

    I have to tell you I have a similar dream all the time. I’m in school. I haven’t been to class all year. I really don’t even know where the classes are, but I know it’s Finals and I know nothing. It’s so funny that you have that same dream. Of course mine iswithout the werewolves and vampires or the happy ending.


  • Julie Roads says:

    I know people also have the naked at school dream too, but that’s never been something I’ve been anxious about…hmmm…wonder what THAT means!

  • Ari Herzog says:

    Do you keep a dream journal? I used to do that in college and for a few years after: every night, or whenever I thought of it, I placed a pad of paper and a pencil (always a pencil, never a pen, so it would write without needing to be jacked up) beside my bed. Upon awakening, before opening my eyes, my subconscious remembered the pad and pencil and I wrote…literally blindly, knowing I would interpret the scribbles later.

    Maybe I should journal again and my dreams will return to vividity.

  • Dan Ronken says:

    I’ve had a similar recurring dream throughout my twenties and early thirties that I wasn’t going to graduate from high school. They were always kind of manic and pack full of fear. I did graduated from high school though so I knew it had to represent something I needed to finish in my life.

    I could not figure it out but actually I never did finish college so, hmmmm. Maybe that was it. Well I took it literally and I’m slowly taking courses and will graduate next spring at the ripe age of 37.

    I missed out on the vampires and werewolves though. Great to know that we’re able to dodge some of these ‘potentialities’ that could keep haunting us simply by making a choice like you did.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Dan! I don’t even know you but I welled up with pride as I read your comment (like I’m your mother or something). It sounds like you are making an incredible choice yourself…thanks for being here.

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