It’s August!

This is a very different sort of August for me.  I have a fellowship for the Fall semester, which means I’m essentially getting paid to write my dissertation, so I have nothing looming ahead of me except long afternoons trying to move the blinking cursor on my Word document from right to left and down the page.

Yet somehow my psyche hasn’t caught up to this fact, so the August Dreams have arrived right on schedule.  If you are an even averagely anxious student or teacher-type, you probably know what I’m talking about.  Every August, I start dreaming that for some odd reason, I have to return to high school and wear my old school uniform, which doesn’t fit anymore.  Or I dream that I have to take a graduate level calculus class, except I wander around unable to find the room for two weeks and only finally discover it on the day of an exam.  Or I dream that I’ve enrolled for some class and didn’t even remember until after the drop deadline passed.  And just last week I dreamed that following a conference, I was whisked away by some friends and colleagues to Mexico, and only once I was in a hot an sweaty van with no cell phone and no internet access did I remember that I had to teach that week and that I desperately needed to find a substitute or risk being fired.

I hate to get too pop-psych here, but considering how common these sorts of dreams are, I think they speak to pretty common fears about school and academic life:  breaking rules you didn’t even know existed, forgetting things you didn’t even know you needed to remember, losing control of your ability to meet expectations and excel.  I’m not sure I have anything more profound to say about that fact, that some of us who love learning the most (and many who don’t) frequently find academic life to be opaque, antagonistic, and terrifying on some level.  Is it just that some of us are so prone to doubt ourselves?  Or is there something about the learning environments we find ourselves in that exacerbates a propensity toward jumpiness.  Probably a little of both.

But anyway, if you students or teachers want to commiserate, share your August Dreams here.


8 thoughts on “It’s August!

  1. I’ve been having “those” dreams since July. However, I’m not the student, still the teacher. My dreams are a variation on the same theme: my short-comings as a teacher. I can’t control my students, I am unplanned, or nothing I do works. After twelve years in the classroom, I’m still worried by the same fears from my first year.

  2. I think I love this blog. I found you through Shakesville, and now I must follow you.

    I start my Ph.D. this fall, and haven’t had any of those dreams yet this year. Presumably this is because my subconscious has forgotten what I’m getting into.

    I do, however, remember a dream from my master’s. I arrived to teach a class having not even glanced at the lesson for that day. In my dream, I had thought this was a-OK and would somehow work out just fine, up until the moment I was standing in front of the students and had no idea what I was supposed to be saying. At least I was wearing pants.

    I think the dream was meant to show me the horror of extreme procrastination in response to some everyday procrastination I had been committing, but I don’t remember what was going on in my waking life at the time, so I’m not sure.

  3. I just found your blog too, and I really enjoy it!

    I have been having those dreams for quite a while (I just finished my masters and will be starting my PhD in a few weeks). Usually the dreams are the ones that others have mentioned (registering for a class and not going until the final exam, forgetting to prep for a class I am teaching, etc.) but the other night I had a new one that no one has talked about yet: I dreamed that I was giving a paper at a conference where I must have been the keynote speaker because I knew I had an hour to talk. After the first five minutes, though, everyone started to clap like I had finished and they all left the room. It was truly terrifying.

  4. I’m beginning my PhD in a few weeks and I just recently had a dream that I walked in to begin training for a term-time job and was confronted with the admins whispering about me. They pointed me to the direction of room where I would be told that one of my two departments had rejected me last minute and so my admission had been rescinded. I woke up frantic and near tears. But oddly enough, for the week leading up to the dream, I had been considering deferring my first year out of fear of failure. So maybe this dream was my psyche saying underneath all of the fear, you really want this. Just found your blog and will be following you as I begin my program.

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