Dreams: Sleeping and Waking

I don’t have “normal” dreams. I’ve known this for a while, but I’m reflecting on it after waking up from a highly stressful dream. I don’t dream as dreams are portrayed in media, but I also don’t dream as a lot of my friends do: I’ve never had a dream about falling or showing up somewhere naked or forgetting a presentation. I dream big and wild.

For instance, I posted this on Facebook in January:
Just before I woke up, I was having a dream where Xander (from Buffy) was turned into a vampire and became a sort of spy for her, and Buffy started to question her life and role, and then Nick Fury showed up to remind her of a promise she’d made to join up if she was ever needed, and she goes along grudgingly, because there’s some kind of dimension rip/alien invasion in San Francisco, and they want her there.They fly to Neverland, off the coast of Florida, and get Rey (from The Force Awakens) and some other folks. Then, Fury takes them all to New York, because Han Solo’s been locked up in Riker’s for a crime he didn’t commit, but he’s wanted for the fight. When they get there, Darth Vader helps them bust Han out, and gives Buffy and someone else lightsabers, and then they all go to SF to fight bad guys.

I’ve always attributed my wild dreams to the fact that I’m a writer and a creative person. Most of my dreams are like the one above — full of diverse characters, strange settings, and improbable events. Many of them are amusing or fun. But sometimes my dreams are scary. Usually this is fine, since I can convince myself they aren’t real (unless they include zombies, which I’m actually very scared of). This weekend, I had a scary(ish) dream, one of the more realistic ones I’ve ever had, and I’m contemplating what it may say about my current life.

Here’s what I posted on my personal Facebook:

Last night, I dreamt that I was part of an organization of political consultants working externally to the US elections; we primarily were meant to make sure there was no fixing the election or anything like that. We were camped out in an unused lot in a residential neighborhood somewhere in the [southwestern US], mainly for the convenience: there was a pretty sizable number of us, and we packed up and moved at the drop of a hat, as the election dictated. We tracked rallies, rhetoric, supporters, candidate safety and movements, local election laws, polling outside voting stations, political cartoons, local governments’ relations to their communities, and so on: all the little things that can change the course of an election. It wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t a tense job — we were just there to make sure that laws weren’t being broken (even by the government) and that elections were fair and honest.

I had been partly adopted into the family of one of my coworkers (who I was having a bit of a will-they-won’t-they situation with), as they were traveling with us. I treated her younger sister Helga as my own, and her mother treated me as one of her children. There were several families traveling around with us, so there were children and pets running around, though in a fairly contained portion of the camp. My friend had just left by helicopter to check in on another camp of folks overseeing a primary in another part of the country, and her sister was trailing me around camp out of anxiety; I was indulging her, even though there wasn’t any reason to worry.

I ducked into a tent to consult with someone about a minor issue that had come up at a Sanders rally, and he told me that Trump supporters a state or two over were making rumblings about establishing a state of South African-style apartheid. He was about to head out to go consult with local government about that situation — we weren’t too worried about it, but it was concerning rhetoric, something to keep an eye on — when a group of snipers started firing on us… and a group of nearby family members and neighborhood children. We ran out of the tent away from the direction of gunfire, but as I was moving, I saw my coworker’s sister trip and fall, and I just knew she’d been hit. My alarm went off as I was screaming her name and turning back for her.

At the risk of reading too much into it, I suppose I have worries and fears that I’m not acknowledging right now, and higher anxiety than I’m admitting even to myself. It’s true that my sleep has been inconsistent the last two weeks, and my focus has been diverted from my schoolwork to several short, intense projects: I pulled together my McNair application in 3 days, I’m dealing with preparation to study abroad in the fall, I started a fundraiser to help pay for that, I spent last week intensely focused on prep for a radio show I co-hosted, and more. In addition, one of my professors misplaced my midterm for a week and a half, and I’ve been struggling to try and maintain my schoolwork using about 1/3 of the time I ought to give it, while managing interpersonal conflict and oppressive attitudes at school. I always struggle with recognizing my own abilities and giving myself credit for work I do, so struggling with schoolwork — even when my time is going into other important areas of my life — makes me feel like a failure.

Alright, so that’s a lot of really great and important stuff I’ve been doing, but it’s week 8 of the term: finals are in less than a month, and I’ve got to pull it together. Right now, I’m going to recommit to my school focus. I’ve fallen back into bad habits of saying yes too much, skimping on sleep, and going out when I know I have work to do. My goals for this week are to adhere to my sleep schedule, to finish the late work I have for one class, and to spend some time getting ahead on research for my final essays. If something prevents me from doing any of those three things, it’s going to have to go.

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