I’m fascinated by dreams. In part because I generally have really vivid and interesting ones, but also because dreams themselves are mysterious. No one actually knows for certain why people dream. Nor why we dream about the particular things we dream about.
So I’m going to tell you all about a recurring dream I have. And in the spirit of the Halloween season, it is actually my recurring nightmare.
My recurring nightmare is this—I am back in high school. Cliché, I know, but every couple of months, I dream that I am my current age yet forced to go back to high school. In the dream, I try to tell people, “I DON’T BELONG HERE!! I went to college and am currently in law school, why are you making me go here?!?” But they never listen. Moreover, I never know where my classes are, and no one will tell me where to go. It is like I am trapped in some Kafkaesque horrorscape where there is no escape and the people exist solely to torment me.
I have had this nightmare for probably eight years, ever since I graduated from high school, and I have no idea why. I had a good time in high school. I had a good group of friends, was relatively popular, and classes were a breeze. I had it easy. Yet when I dream about it, it is more akin to a prison than a school.
Furthermore, it is really my only recurring dream. For a stretch of time, I used to have a lot of dreams where I was the leader of small band of survivors battling against an overwhelming enemy ala John Connor in “Terminator” but it has been years since I have had one of those dreams. But just last month, I had another dream about being back in high school.
But here is the thing I find truly fascinating—most everybody has had a similar dream. I did a quick Google search “dreaming you’re back in high school” and there were over EIGHT MILLION results. And no one is ever, “I dreamed I was back in high school—it was awesome!” No, it is always, “I dreamed I was back in high school, and I was completely unprepared and lost. I woke up in a cold sweat and was stayed awake the rest of the night just in case I would continue the dream if I fell back asleep.”
I wonder what it is about high school that is so powerful and traumatizing that it has imprinted itself on our national psyche to the point where most everybody dreams about it. What is so remarkable about high school that it has wormed itself into our subconscious and is there to haunt us years later? Will these dreams ever stop?
In closing, I would like to ask all of you if you have this same dream? Is it a frequently recurring dream? Do you find it as horrifying as I do?
Paul (’10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma (’10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.