The Evolution of My Anxiety Dreams

Last night, I had an anxiety dream that I’ve never had before. Not only was it interesting because it was new but also because its events occurred in a different time period in my life than other dreams that I’ve had when I’m journeying through particularly worrisome times.

In the past, I’ve had two different anxiety-induced dreams. In both of them, I was in college. The more common of the two finds me during my senior year of college. It’s finals week of my last semester, and it occurs to me that there was one class that I enrolled in that was required to graduate, and all semester I had forgotten to go. There’s nothing I can do and I’ll have to stay another semester in college before I can graduate. Although this should be cause for celebration, delaying the real world for a few more months, I’m ruled by the emotions of sadness, fear, worry, and disappointment in myself. This is never a good feeling to wake up to. Maybe this dream occurs when I feel like I’m not living up to my full potential or am dissatisfied with what I’ve accomplished. This is usually a good indication to reflect on what it is I am proud of and to set some short-term goals to get my head and momentum going in the right direction. Insightful right? Don’t be fooled. I usually wake up and have to get going (to the gym, to work, wherever) so that reflection isn’t always likely to happen. Because life.

My second dream in my college-era occurs when I’m back at my college waitressing job. I’ve gone home for the night after work only to remember when I get home that I’ve left while all of my tables are still eating dinner and, therefore, must still be sitting there wondering where I’ve gone. This dream doesn’t leave me as traumatised as the former but again can be linked back to what’s happening in the present day. It’s likely that the resurfacing of this dream has some roots in my relationships with others and probably occurs when I feel like I’m neglecting friendships.

This brings me to my thoughts when I woke up this morning. In last night’s dream, college was over. I was now two years out of college, teaching kindergarten in Chicago Public Schools. It was the first day of school. Many people don’t realize that teachers go “back to school” about a month before the kids show up on their first day. So much needs to be done to get a classroom ready, lesson plans written, etc. In my dream, it was day one and my new students were lined up outside waiting for me to lead them to where they would spend the majority of their waking hours for the next nine months. All of the other teachers were talking about all of the work they had done to get their classrooms ready and were dressed in their most respectable “first day of school” teacher outfits. But where was I? Not only had I not set foot in my classroom, thought about a single lesson plan, or looked at my class list, I also hadn’t even gotten in the shower yet. I needed at minimum another thirty minutes to at least shower and look somewhat presentable before I could go out and meet my new students just to bring them back to my classroom where they wouldn’t find their names on their assigned desks or their nametags over their cubbies. What they would find was a teacher who was completely unprepared and had no plan. How could I have let this happen? It’s not surprising that lately I’ve had this same feeling of showing up completely less than prepared, somewhat panicked, and wondering how in the world I’ll be able to pull everything off.

I’m left wondering what event prompted me to graduate (in my dreams) from college and enter the real world, even though the real world I faced at 23 is completely different than the real world I face today. I’m also left with the realization that the subconscious is pretty freaking amazing, and I’d love to get to know mine a bit more intimately.

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