I only have two recurring dreams, and unfortunately, they’re actually nightmares. No creepy ghosts. No falling to my death. No walking in public naked. Just two past real life situations stuck on a torturous replay loop.
I wish I could tell you, that with all my adventures and fear facing, that I didn’t suffer from reliving these nightmares. I really wish I could. But, I’d rather admit my limitations, share them with you, and face these challenges head on.
It’s exam time in my final year of university. I’ve invested 4 years of my life in The University of Toronto engineering program, and I’m on the final stretch. I’m so close to graduating and getting it over with. Computer engineering wasn’t really the right choice for me. I took it because it seemed prestigious, and because I liked programming, but the accompanying electrical, hardware, chemical, and computer theory courses I hated downright, not to mention the lack of creativity.
The above is the real part. The below, which never completely happened, is where the nightmare fantasy begins.
Unfortunately, the final year has been grueling, and in my diligence to keep up with half the courses, I’ve completely neglected the other half by skipping classes, tests, and assignments. In fact, I’m so clueless about those courses, I don’t even know where the lectures are held!
My life comes screeching to a halt at a stressful crossroad. I know I won’t pass and graduate, which means repeating the year again, with the same mental duress and possible outcome. I could call it quits, but will have to admit to failure and throwing away all the time, money, and mental stress I’ve already invested. Not to mention, I’ll leave empty-handed without that expensive piece of paper called a degree.
It’s a common nightmare – I’m sure many of you have had it in some form or another. I’m kind of baffled because, after all these years, it still haunts me. Not to mention in real life, I graduated the final year with flying colors, albeit with some real struggle.
This second nightmare isn’t as linear as the first, as I’ve dreamt it in many forms. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I was fired a few years back. In this reincarnation, I’m back at my old office – except, I don’t belong there. My old company is still successfully tugging along, I’ve failed in my solo endeavours, and somehow I’ve returned in a different context.
I’m either there as a mail courier, sneaking in to get free coffee or snacks, or most commonly, as an unknown vagrant. I don’t want to be seen by anyone, other than by the friendly secretarial staff. They’re my A-team, and they assist in shuffling me around unnoticed.
I’m trapped in the office, so I have to diligently avoid running into my old bosses while covertly sneaking around – ducking into empty cubicles, pretending to be an office worker, hiding behind potted plants, and shadowing employees to gain access through doors.
I have to escape, but somehow I can’t. Now that I think about it, it’d actually make a great sequel to the movie Office Space.
The Fallout Of Dream Denial
I don’t know how to interpret dreams, but I can say that these nightmares do reflect a residual inner struggle I have. Maybe I haven’t outlived the embarrassment of being fired. Or come to terms with the feelings of failure. As for school, even though I graduated, I haven’t left unscathed, and it’s obvious I made a choice that had no heart.
They’re not terrible nightmares per se, but they are based on real life. These nightmares have manifested because I wasn’t true to myself. I entered a university program because it was prestigious, and not because it was right for me. I stayed with a career that was dictated by my former choice of education. I played it safe and made the wrong choices. And now the wrong choices have come back to haunt me.
Scarcity And Abundance
I don’t know how it is with you, but whatever reality my mind creates in my dreams, it feels real – whether I’m 5-years-old, a celebrity actor, or a powerful mech robot. Nightmare One, the school nightmare, happens the most frequently, checking in about once a month. It actually occurred so frequently at one point that I was able to recognize the recurrence, have a lucid dream, and wake myself out of it.
Nowadays, I’ve noticed that how I handle the dream heavily reflects my mindset – scarcity or abundance. With a scarcity mindset, I fall into the trap of “not enough”. The world is competitive, there aren’t enough opportunities, and I have to accept my lot in life. I miserably accept that I’ll have to take another year of school to get that degree and linear life. I try to get back into my old workplace, find acceptance, and safety in my cubicle.
With an abundance mindset, it’s very different. I look for choices and opportunities, and as a result, my dreams have different outcomes. I salvage my existing course credits and transfer them to another program I like more. I put school on hold and look for interesting work. I break up my final year into two years, thus easing the course load. I leave the office and never look back.
All I know is that when I wake up, I breathe a sigh of relief, re-align my senses, and reflect on what transpired. I’m sure you can relate – maybe you’ve had these dreams too? I can tell you this, however – these nightmares exist because I didn’t take action, assume a little risk, and follow the true path for me. Maybe I didn’t know better for some decisions I made in my youth.
Somehow, the “don’t-jump-off-the-cliff-with-the-other-kids” advice from childhood subtly transformed into “better-to-follow-the-crowd” as an adult.
Don’t let this happen to you. Nightmares aside, don’t let the wrong decisions manifest into 10, 20, or more years of dissatisfaction. Assume the abundance mindset and recognize you have choices. It may seem difficult, but you always have choices. Safe thinking will tell you that you should stay put, but with the proper research, you will discover possibilities you never imagined before.