Why am I having so many of them this term? Last night it was about being fired. In the dream I neglected to attend my classes. Only one or two, but I just abandoned my students. No explanation to them, no real reason. I didn’t communicate to them even by email. I didn’t leave a “class cancelled” note on the door. I didn’t go back. Eventually the students complained and I was hauled before my bosses. In a room with—who? The President of the University? The Dean? My department chair? I tried to explain that I hadn’t been feeling well and had just stayed home, but they weren’t having any of it. I was canned. Of course I woke up from this dream at 5:30 am and promptly rushed through my ablutions and got to campus in plenty of time to teach my 9:00 am class.
Um communicate with your students!
I understand the performance anxiety dreams just before the first day of the new term, but now? When things are on a roll and I’m back to my rhythms as an academic? Teaching is fun. I like my students. I am always prepared. Why is my subconscious saying differently?
We all get them. Last night/early this morning I had the classic. I have three alarms set, but still I dream that I’ve overslept on the first day of classes. In my dream I shower, but there’s no shampoo. I get dressed, but I can’t find the right shoes for my outfit. I rush out the door, and then remember that I have forgotten to take my lunch out of the fridge. I get to campus and I can’t find my building. I find the building but can’t find my office, because over the summer they have been moved around. I can’t remember my office number. I’m hungry and need coffee, but the lineup is so long I’m going to be late for class, so I abandon the breakfast mission. It’s getting late. I can’t find the building where my first class will be held. It’s getting very late. I’m late. I’m very late. I get to the classroom and the students are not there.
I Google performance anxiety dreams and find a sample chapter from Elaine Showalter’s book on the subject. You can read it too by clicking here. My Dad, who was also a professor, now retired, said that performance anxiety never goes away. Great news. Thanks, Dad. The thing is, I don’t remember having these dreams before going to work in any of the other jobs I’ve had in my life. Is it just teaching? Is it that standing up in front of a class of students who are all staring at you, checking out what you are wearing, assessing your ability to keep them interested and entertained.
But of course, it’s fine. I was up, showered, dressed, breakfasted and in my office by 8:00 a.m. I just met my first class. They will be fabulous. This is what I do, and I’m not bad at it.