There are certain dreams I frequently have when I’m stressed. They probably say something deep (and not very flattering) about my psyche.
Perhaps weirdly, they’re not about the most calamitous events–in the scheme of things they’re closer to laughable–but that doesn’t stop them being terribly stressful to live (or dream) through.
Stress dream 1: My teeth are falling out
A subconscious part of me seems to have decided that my teeth breaking, rotting, and/or falling out is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. (I guess it has no imagination.)
Sure, teeth are pretty useful, assuming you like to eat and don’t subsist on those disgusting vegetable smoothies. But losing a tooth is hardly the end of the world.
I hear dentists can even give you new teeth these days.
If I got new teeth I’d want vampire fangs, because then I’d have half a Halloween costume without even trying. Plus I could bite holes in my own lip. Always a bonus.
Stress dream 2: Exams
It’s been a while since I was last studying, so I don’t have these dreams so often any more, but a common stress dream of mine used to be that I was rushing to an exam.
It was never just an exam. It was always an exam with an extra stress factor. Sometimes I was running late for the exam and I didn’t know what room it was in. Other times it was an exam for a course I’d forgotten I was taking, and I hadn’t been to a class all year.
If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m pathologically early for everything. I’m the kind of person who gets to the airport an hour and a half before a domestic flight just in case.
I’ve never been late for an exam, or even close, and I always double check the room a dozen times. Except in dreams.
As for signing up for a course and forgetting to go–who does that? Okay, maybe some people do, but they probably don’t remember they’re taking the course just in time for the exam. Or, if they do, I’m sure they don’t sit the exam.
For some reason, the course I forget to go to is always advanced chemistry. I never took advanced chemistry. Maybe I should have.
Sometimes I wonder what it says about me that exams are one of the most stressful things in my life. I really cared about doing well at study? Or I hated the jerks in my class and wanted to cream them.
Stress dream 3: Packing for tramping
Note for Americans: By “tramping” I mean multi-day hiking, not whatever dirty thing you were thinking of.
My other nightmare is that I’m just about to leave for a tramping trip and I haven’t finished packing. Stressful, right?
Someone, usually my sister, is running around saying, “Come on, we have to go right now,” and I’m standing in the living room with gear scattered everywhere, too overwhelmed to do anything. And the cat’s probably skulking in my pack.
If you’ve never done it, packing for tramping is somewhat more important than packing for regular travel. With regular travel, if you forget something you can buy a replacement when you get there (unless it’s your passport–then you’re in deep muck).
With tramping, if you forget something important you could find yourself several days from civilisation in freezing cold torrential rain without a waterproof jacket.
If you enjoy having a heartbeat, I don’t recommend this.
This is why I have a packing list for tramping (technically, I have several, but let’s not complicate matters)–I prefer not to end up in some remote stretch of bush lacking a jacket… or toilet paper.
You might argue a list is overly organised (to use the polite word), in which case I definitely won’t tell you that it’s a conditional list that gives different gear to take depending on the expected conditions. Or that it lists the weights of all my equipment so I know what I’m trading off against what. If I were to tell you any of these things you might think I was weird.
But I’ve already told you I have stress nightmares about not having enough time to pack for tramping, so that bunny may already be out of the hutch.
And did I mention that I start packing at least a week in advance? So there’s no way I’m ever going to be in this stressful packing situation.
All this goes to show that my subconscious should spend less time worrying about situations that are never going to arise, and more time thinking about situations that are actually possible. Like me accidentally turning up to give a presentation naked.
Do you have particular dreams when you’re stressed? Would you like to share?
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