Welcome back to the dream series! We’re examining a few common types of dreams and what they might mean. So get out your journals and pens, it’s time to record some dreams!
If you’re the type of person who forgets their dreams almost as soon as they wake, check out our first article! It details a few habits to help you remember your dreams longer and record them more accurately, in addition to talking about falling dreams. Our second article got into the nitty-gritty of dreams about teeth falling out.
So! With all that said… pop quiz! Just kidding – time to figure out why we’re dreaming about tests and school, even as adults decades out of the schooling system.
The idea of it chills the innards of even the most confident A-student valedictorian: you get to school or class and realize there’s a test today. You didn’t study – you had no idea it was coming. Or maybe there’s a final today for a class you forgot to go to all semester. Whatever the case, enter fear and panic! You scramble for notes, you wrack your brain for any memory or information you can use, you pretend to faint or fake sick to avoid taking the test or stall for time… for several terrifying and awful moments, you’re back to being a young kid in school.
As with any common dream, there are multiple options for interpretation.
One explanation is that your brain is trying to prepare you and comfort you for a coming challenge. According to Dr. Brenda Clorfene Solomon of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis in a 2002 article for the Chicago Tribune, these dreams can involve subjects that the dreamer is good at. It’s as if the brain is trying to say to the dreamer, ‘you did okay then – you’ll be okay after this, too.’ Not that the brain is doing a terribly good job of reassuring the dreamer in that moment… but perhaps it’s the thought that counts.
Another common explanation is that test dreams crop up whenever the dreamer is experiencing feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, or the fear of failure. Since school is a nearly-universal experience during which almost everyone has had some experience of failure, it makes for the perfect setting for this kind of dream. And worse, failure in school could have consequences that last into adult life. It brings up all kinds of insecurities of not being good enough, smart enough, quick enough, that they’ll screw everything up, etc. Succeeding in school is also an extremely common source of pressure from parents, which adds more fuel to the fire.
If you can identify what challenge in your current life is bringing you such anxiety that it brings you back to your exam days, then you can determine whether or not that fear stems from a short-term stressor (like an upcoming presentation) or a long-term lack of self-esteem or fear of being not enough. The former will come and go, but the latter might require some more self-reflection to untangle.
That concludes this series about some of the most common dreams and a framework for how to understand them! So get out those dream journals, reflect on your notes, and be sure to enjoy the rest you can get with a Wolf mattress!
Do you want to hear more about different dreams? Let us know!
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