I had the dream again last night. The one where I’m weeks away from my college graduation and find out I don’t have enough credits to graduate. I have had this dream so often it’s like a bad novel I keep rereading, hoping for a different ending. But the ending is always the same. I’ve gone to school for four years and I won’t be receiving the diploma.
I’ve written previously about my dreams—their vividness, the emotions I can’t shake once I wake up, the crazy details—and this one was no different. Only it was different. In the variations of this dream, there are a multitude of ways I discover exactly why I’m not graduating, but the credits I’m missing are always the same: foreign language. And since I took German as my foreign language, I guess it makes sense that I should disappoint my parents with not only news that I’m not graduating, but that what I screwed up was enough credits in their first language. What was different last night is that I knew I wouldn’t be able to graduate and spent most of the dream going to different university offices to confirm what I already knew to be true.
I know that this is one of my stress dreams. You know the ones. You can’t remember your high school locker combination. You have a ten-page paper due at 10:00 the next morning and it’s already 8:00 at night and you haven’t yet started. You are being chased. I’ve had them all but I never seem to be in control in any of them. But last night as I actively pursued the reason I was not graduating, I was in control. Office after office had no idea what I was talking about. You’ll get your degree, they said. You’re fine. Why would you think this? But I knew it. I knew something was wrong.
As I look at this from a different perspective, I wonder if my mind is trying to help me. Maybe shake me up a bit. Maybe tell me that the problems in my life are not only something I have to acknowledge, but actively seek answers for even when I am being pacified by the university officials in my head telling me I’m hopeless and to stop looking for answers because the degree will arrive regardless of finding them. Maybe I have to go to different offices, seek different people behind desks, to find the answers I am looking for. Maybe I have to begin taking control over the crazies in my head who seem content without the degree, content to walk around campus for the rest of my life and never graduate.
Maybe my mind is telling me to move ever onward, seeking—and perhaps even finding—true happiness.
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