BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

The Bright Side of Nightmares

What’s your recurring dream?

I have two of them.

One, I’d imagine, is pretty standard:

Wandering my college campus, I’m convinced I’m going to fail one of my finals, because a) I can’t find the classroom where it’s being administered, and b) I haven’t attended the class all semester.

While it’s a relief to wake up from this, it’s my second recurring dream that truly causes me distress — in both my conscious and subconscious states.

In it, I’m among people I know — family, friends, co-workers — and we’re all trying to get…somewhere.

The problem is I can’t keep up. I’m sprinting as fast as I can, yet it feels as if I’m spinning my wheels.

And I continue falling farther and farther behind the pack.

Eventually, when I wake up, my legs are sore, as if I’d actually been running.

I’ve always interpreted this dream as straightforward as possible:

That I’m losing the race.

That despite my best efforts, when compared to others, my life doesn’t measure up.

Last night, I had this dream again, but with a new twist.

I was by myself, trying to get to a restaurant to meet my family.

But I didn’t know where the restaurant was, and I could barely move.

I was walking up and down city streets, but it felt as if I were trudging through a sandpit — and the sand was up to my neck.

Now, not only was I not moving fast enough, I was lost.

I didn’t know where to go.

I never did find the restaurant, and when I woke up, my entire body ached.

It’s not surprising these thoughts have infiltrated my subliminal sequences, because too often they plague my reality.

I worry that I’m not doing enough, that I haven’t accomplished enough, that I’m not progressing enough.

I worry that, when it comes to writing my life’s story, I’m behind schedule.

And I don’t know if I’ll ever figure out how to catch up.

These concerns are real, and they’re not going anywhere on their own.

I have to face them, and learn to manage them, and ideally one day overcome them.

On the bright side, my hope is that the more I can process them when I’m asleep, the less they’ll hold me back when I’m awake.

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