One of the most annoying recurring themes of my dreams is being back in school. Sometimes I'm back in high school or graduate school, but most often I'm back in college. It makes me suspect I have a secret terror of being a student again.
This occured to me again tonight when I was watching a movie in which a teacher gives a student extra homework. A feeling of dread came over me. For a second a felt afraid of a huge homework assignment that there was no hope of finishing.
Maybe it's an indication of how afraid I've always been of being overwhelmed by life and having others demand too much of me. Also, when I was a student I used to be terrified of losing control of my studies and flunking a subject. In my waking life, those old fears are mostly behind me. I'm moving forward with my new business and feel confident that it's where I belong. This work feels right to me and I'm very excited about it. But at night I dream that I've fallen behind in classwork and am in danger of failing a course, or that I can't find a book for an assignment no matter how hard I look in the library.
These dreams disappoint me because I like to think of myself as having a healthy view of failure, which is "So what?" I've failed at so many things in life and I expect I'll fail at several more, and so be it. I don't feel bad in front of others about things that didn't work out (such as my marriage), but these dreams haunt me and make me wonder what insecurities might be working under the surface of my consciousness.
Whatever these dreams indicate about my confidence, one result of having them is that whenever someone tells me she's going to graduate school, I gaze at her in carefully masked horror. Or maybe it's not so masked, especially if I blurt out, "Don't do it." I wish I could convince my deep, down, subconscious mind that there's nothing to be afraid of: I'm never going to be a student again. The time in my life when I was absolutely terrified of failing is over. Now I'm just slightly worried about failing.