The idea of dreams (and dreaming) has fascinated me from the start. Experiencing things that may actually have never occurred and yet living the experience in its entirety sounds surreal, isn’t it?
Particularly in my case, it is all the more unique. Given the nature and probably type of my sleep, I tend to remember most things I had dreamt of as I wake up. Not only the dream, but also the emotions associated with it. And that feeling tends to linger on for at least couple of hours as I struggle to get a hang of the day that lies ahead. I’m serious.
For instance, in my teens, I often had dreams of being scolded or in a quarrel with someone (generally family members). I would wake up with a grumpy face and for hours, move around angrily till the feeling of having fought had subsided. In fact, the person who I ended up being scolded by in the dream would suffer silent treatment from me till then. This was also one of the contributing factors towards earning the label of being ‘eccentric’ (read MAD!).
Anyway. Talking about my idea of horrid dreams, I have had many based on my age and phase of life. For instance, as a young teenager who had no voice of her own, who always felt subdued by her own feelings and self-hatred, one who wanted to speak but could not, I have had vivid dreams of being in arguments with people I felt most oppressed with. For instance, I recall dreams of yelling at people in whose presence I felt so inferior and small. It was probably a secret desire to be able to speak up that way. I am glad I could vent – if not in real, then in sub-conscious reality.
As I grew up, focus metamorphosed from relationships into academic excellence. I think the only thing that spun in my head pretty much all the time was to prepare for exams and then to write them. In that phase of life when I was due to appear for my board exams, dreams pattern changed. Now I dreamt of sitting in the sweaty exam hall, unprepared, perspiring in frenzy, clueless about what had been asked in the question paper. Surprisingly, I dreamt of this every tenth day or so and not so surprisingly, this was always the Maths exam paper. No jokes, Maths and my son have been the only two things in this world that have brought me to my knees.
Now when I hear my students fret about the subject of Accounting (which I adore and teach too!) and how it feels like rocket science to them, I realise that it was probably the manner in which the subject was introduced to me that caused the fear (and yes, fear for life). It’s only now that I realise that the folly lied less in me and more in the person who was responsible for making me understand the subject. Anyway. That’s not the point here.
As I grew up further and career gradually took shape, the nature and frequency of dreams changed yet again. I no longer ‘quarrel’ with people (for probably I do it in real life now) and nor do I appear for dreadful maths exams. Now my stress levels, which are often unknown to me too, manifest in dreams of walking in unprepared to classes I teach. As I write this article, I have just woken up with one such dream and trust me, it feels miserable to think of a seventy pairs of eyes staring at you when you have practically nothing to speak. You stand there, fumbling for words, stammering in uncertainty and flipping through your own notes that seem to make such little sense under extreme levels of self-consciousness.
As I am pretty much at the end of this piece, let me summarise. As a young girl, looking for a voice, I dreamt of struggles and quarrels, which probably signified turmoil in the mind, constant unrest even when I was awake. As a young woman endeavouring to accomplish good grades, I dreamt of appearing for Maths exams unprepared, waiting for doom in the form of results. In retrospect, it feels like the insecurity of an under-confident student, who with greater effort could have managed to sail through much more smoothly. What’s with the under-preparation anyway? Is it not in one’s own hands to prepare or not to prepare?
Coming to the present, I think the clueless-teacher dreams are nothing but insecurities of a professional of being mocked in public, judged for her incapability and of course, lack of complete faith in the self. After all, as I said earlier, isn’t preparing for classes in my own hands? In fact, in reality, I am extremely meticulous about the way I develop my course content, deliver lectures and prepare for classes. God alone knows what goes on in my head when I think I’m not thinking!
Finally, as I end, let me also confess that the Maths exam dreams still occur to me, rarely though and when they do, I know for sure that something is bothering me deep within. That’s my reality check for keeping stress levels under control because for me life is easy but Maths is not!
Image taken from Google images