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Inadequacy Dreams

After dreaming this week that Rahm Emmanel dissed my wardrobe as drab, I did a little research.

One website (didn't say I was doing Ph.D. level work here) said something about inadequacy dreams that I found appealing. 

"Most of the time, though, people who have such dreams are unlikely to fail a test in real life. This dream is rooted in the fear and anxiety that you may not meet other's (sic) standards. You are afraid to let others down." from Dream Moods

I was startled to have one of these not-up-to-snuff dream experiences a couple of nights ago.  In recent decades, I've only had one test-taking dream: in a college history course, I had a test hours ahead and had neither attended a single class nor read the one enormous dry book that had been assigned.

I used to have a lot of these dreams.  A variation as a teenager was that I was working in my parents'  clothing store but had forgotten to take my pink hair curlers out.  And then there were lots of tests.

In my late 30s they all but came to a halt with one extremely satisfying, if somewhat hair-raising, dream. 

This one was a classic inadequate-writer dream.  I was standing at a podium to give a reading and discovered that I'd brought nothing to read. 

So I instead of panicking, I said to the audience, "Tonight a special treat!" I told them that I often tossed hard copies of the day's work in progress into the backseat of my car when I started home from my office (which was true at the time.) I announced that I was going out to my car to get some brand-new fresh out of the computer work in progress.  I left the auditorium, went to my car, and found the back seat empty.

Again, instead of panicking, I went back in and said, "An even more special treat!! I'm going to make up a story right here while you watch."

I was so proud of the resourcefulness and relative calm of that dream.  And in 30 years, I hadn't had but one other "test" dream — that I remembered — until this week.

More research: An article from Huffpo last week, says that stress dreams increase during the holidays, with common plots including tidal waves, missed plane flights, and incidents such as losing one's smart-phone.

I had thought I was being unusually calm this year about Christmas (we have now as a table centerpiece a Christmas pumpkin, the autumn-themed item with a Christmas decoration on top).  But then came another night of struggle last night, the inability-to-collect-the-fee dream. 

I'd taken a freelance assignment to produce sculptures of human figures to go in an aquarium. Part of the deal was that these were to last forever.  First, I spilled water out of the tank, killing one whole breed of fish. 

Then I needed more info and went back to the clients to get it, led by a briskly trotting baby elephant.  I didn't get the information I needed; and found out that the client had budgeted $2900 for this job, though our agreement was that I work by the hour and I already had $6,000 worth of time in it.  That's about when I woke up.

My sources on dreams tell me that an elephant can mean inner strength, wisdom, introversion, God removing obstacles, memory, good luck, and/or a topic that people are trying to avoid. The rest of it: well, immortal sculpture? Sounds like a test dream to me, and after all it's the holidays.)

(Just this second had a thought about Rahm Emmanuel.  His last name!  It means "God is with us."  Perfect for Christmas!)

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8 Responses to “Inadequacy Dreams”

  1. kenju Says:

    I thought about his name when you mentioned this the first time. I am not remembering dreams lately, but the last dream I had like that I was up in front of the blackboard in school and I had no panties on. I was very afraid I'd drop the chalk…

  2. Peggy Payne Says:

    A good dream is when you don’t drop the chalk. You’re ahead of me on the name thing, Judy. I also thought today about his first name, pronounced the same as the Hindu Ram. Do you suppose God doesn’t like my clothes, wants me to be flashier?

  3. mohana Says:

    Such a treasure to remember dreams with such vividness (mine don't come back to me like this). I used have anxiety dreams about stage performances 6 months to a 1 year after the fact. Talk about repression!
    Ganesh is the Hind half elephant God and he is the remover of all obstacles…

  4. Bob Braxton Says:

    assignment to produce sculptures of human figures to go in an aquarium seems like a tankless task. Corsons Inlet, Gravelly Run (A.R. Ammons)

  5. Peggy Payne Says:

    I sure didn’t see the pun potential here. Nice work, Bob.

  6. Peggy Payne Says:

    Nice to hear that the anxiety dreams are in the past, Mohana. Thanks for the reminder about Ganesh.

  7. Jan Krause Greene Says:

    I have the test dream once every few years, but with a different twist. I am the teacher and i realize that I haven't shown up to teach all semester and now it is time to give the final exam. Wonder what Freud would say about that?
    My favorite recurring dream is the one in which I jump off a cliff into deep beautiful water and keep going down, and then easily start rising back up to the surface, but I don't stop there. I continue to rise right into the sky and then I fly away. I love that dream. i wake up feeling invigorated whenever I have it.

  8. Peggy Payne Says:

    Another commenter above — Judy — also had a teaching dream, Jan. And I love the water-and-sinking-and-rising scenario. At the risk of seeming too self-referential, the main character in my Cobalt Blue has an experience like that in the last pages of the book. Water is magic, of course, and pushing off from the bottom seems to me the ideal outcome of the sinking.


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