I have a number of recurring dreams. Some of them are very common. One of them is any number of variations of where I just stop going to history or math or physics without officially withdrawing….I get an F for the course and I scramble around frantically to see if I can fix it.
Twenty plus years after I graduated with a Ph.D. I still dream I haven’t finished my dissertation and I just don’t know how I am going to find time to complete it. I also feel, in the dream, that I may not have the ability or intelligence to complete it. I remind myself that my transcript already says “Ph.D. conferred” on it, but yet I’m not sure how or why. These “school” dreams usually indicate some stress or anxiety one is facing in waking hours, so “they” say.
The most humorous recurring dream I have is the one where I look in the mirror, always the same mirror, the one over the sink in the bathroom from my childhood home. I see that I have grown a short straight black beard and mustache; in real life my hair is a golden color. I stare at myself and say the same thing every time; “that just does not look good!” Then I get some scissors or a razor and start trimming it.
Dream analysts say that women dreaming they have beards and/or mustaches is an expression of a desire to exert more aggression or gain more power. Perhaps my saying “that does not look good” means I don’t like my own aggression or don’t think I can handle more power. Who knows? Who cares? Not me!
I really enjoy sleeping and like the subconscious world of dreaming. It takes me to interesting places and I enjoy interacting with different characters in my dream world, most of whom I know or have known in real life. But, I don’t spend much waking time wondering about or studying my dreams’ meanings. But, maybe I should!
I have another recurring dream about seeing tornadoes on the horizon and they are coming toward me. Now there’s a stress dream if I’ve ever heard one! Perhaps if in our waking hours we paid more attention to our dreams we would change things in our lives. Maybe we would try to de-stress a bit. Stress is the number one cause of illness in the U.S., ahead of smoking or poor diet.
The American Psychological Association says:
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- 75 to 90 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death–heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
Maybe our dreams are the gift that is telling us, “hey wake up (literally and figuratively) and change your life. Figure out ways to de-stress your life before you get physically ill.”
Some people say it’s a good idea to keep a dream journal immediately upon waking up. Because really a few hours after waking it’s almost impossible to remember one’s dreams. I’d like to recommend it, but I don’t do it and I don’t want to be a hypocrite!
But, I do plan to start paying closer attention to my dreams. I plan to de-stress my life by continuing my exercise routines (I’ve gotten a little bit lazy of late), doing more fun things (for me that includes spending time with family), and recommitting to eating better (I have gotten lackadaisical about my eating habits too). Perhaps then I’ll notice that I have fewer “stress” dreams.
What do you need to do to de-stress your dreams? What do you need to do to de-stress your life? What are your plans? I’d love to hear about it.
4 thoughts on “Bearded Lady”
I almost never remember my dreams upon waking. I’ve always considered this a blessing, because on those few occasions I remember a dream, I almost always wish I didn’t.
I live a pretty stressful life, some of it by choice (leadership role in a software company) and some of it not (divorced from my kids’ mom, hours of driving every week to go get them and/or take them back to their mom’s). I’ve used meditation and mindfulness techniques, as well as cognitive techniques (mostly self-talk) to help manage it in the moment, but the biggest, most important way I handle it is by pursuing my hobbies: film photography, blogging, and exploring the old roads.
Hey Jim. Sorry to hear about the stressors in your life. I do love your photography. You have a nice hobby there to relieve the stress. I remember my dreams all too often. Last night was a doosey. I dreamed about the racial tension in the country. The setting was the U. of Oklahoma, where I went to grad school. There has been some tension there re: a fraternity. Well, it was a huge deal in my dream with protests and locked walls and these weird kind of bombs (sort of fire crackers really). Anyway I woke in a fog. Finally shook it off enough to get to work. 😉
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I think it is entirely common to have dreams where you’re late to class, don’t finish assignments on time, flunk courses, don’t get your dissertation finished (I myself still haven’t ten+ years later, but I no longer care)….I have them, my husband has them, my daughter has them…
Interesting too about the “outside” features of your academic experience…my daughter just finished her M.A. and is looking for a job in academia….hadn’t thought about any of the above! Yikes!
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Best wishes to your daughter. My life in academia has been great. I hope the same for her.
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