Over the past six or so months, I’ve had this dream. It’s more of a nightmare really. In it, there are no terrifying monsters, or evil bad guys, or end-of-the-world scenarios. No, no. I’m sad to say it’s far worse than that. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My dream begins with me in high school or university (it seems to be interchangeable in my subconscious). I’m a good student with very high grades. Everything seems great, until I suddenly realize I’ve missed class for several weeks, or I’ve failed to do a huge assignment. The consequences are never small or insignificant.
In these dreams, I’m forced to drop a class, fail an entire semester, or sometimes I’m even kicked out of university. The panic becomes so real that I actually wake up on the verge of tears. It’ll take me several minutes to calm down enough to realize that it was just a nightmare. I was a top student in both high school and university. I didn’t fail or drop out of either. Everything’s okay. And yet, the panic remains long after the dream ends.
The funny thing is, when I was in school I never had these nightmares. Not once. So why now? What’s changed? What is my subconscious trying to tell me?
After having the dream on Saturday night, I really stopped to ponder these questions. I’ve always been worried about letting people down. I can’t fail—I simply can’t. If you knew my family, you’d understand why.* You can never do anything correctly. It’s a never-ending cycle of negativity. I’m sad to say I’ve based a lot of my decisions on how to prove to those people that I can succeed at anything I set my mind to. While the concept is fine, I know I put too much pressure on myself. I’ve been called a workaholic before, and I suppose in some ways it’s true. I do know how to relax and do nothing, but when I do get up to get stuff done I power through my list like there’s no tomorrow.
To me, I think the nightmares represent my fear of failure. Right now I’m focusing on my marriage (which has been wonderful so far), my new health regime, and my writing. The last two fell to the wayside when I was finishing up school, so I’m really trying to work on those. It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m not sure how else to accomplish things. I have learned new tricks to slow down and take my time with things, but I fear I'll always be a bit of a workaholic that way.
Do you guys ever have nightmares like this? What do you think they mean? If you don’t agree with what I said, or if you think my nightmare might mean something else, feel free to share! I’d love to hear from you!
*This is my extended family, not my parents or my husband’s family. They’re both supportive.
*Picture is The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli