Wondering what that crazy dream you had could possibly mean? Don't let it keep you up at night—our in-house dream analyst Layne Dalfen, author of the Have a Great Dream books, is here to help you make sense of it all. In a twice-monthly column for Oprah Daily, Layne draws upon her decades of experience to explore what a reader's dream is trying to tell them.
Dear Dream Catcher,
I have a recurring dream in which I’m graduating from a private school that I’ve never actually attended, and I need to figure out where I’m headed once I leave. Sometimes this school is in Germany. Other times, it's in Korea, where I’ve been stationed in the military previously in real life. Lately, though, the school is in my hometown of Denver, Colorado.
No matter where it’s located, my goal is always to see my mother, who died 14 years ago. To provide a little background, my mother was an honest, intelligent, assertive woman who never had the ability to pursue her dream of traveling. This fall I’m going to Paris to study for 2 years, and I want more than anything for her to know that she inspired me. —The Graduate
Your dream is about change. In the dream, you’re graduating and need to move out of your room, but this change causes anxiety because you don’t know what the future will bring. As you say, you need to figure out where you’re going to go when you leave. In this case, because you’re graduating from a school where you never attended classes, I wonder whether you feel like you don’t deserve praise for this successful "graduation" into a new life phase?
In dreams, you may find yourself in your hometown because it’s the best way to return to the place where your beliefs about what you deserve originated. To explore the deeper meaning behind the feelings you’re experiencing, you might ask yourself questions like: “Do I have a notion that I don’t deserve, or don't feel capable to manage, what’s coming?” “Where did this notion originate?” Perhaps even, “Did I somehow conjure this idea because I lost my mother at a time in my life when most of my friends still had theirs?”
Drawing upon the associations that your unconscious mind is reflecting in your dream, and given the worry that many experience during a time of transition, it seems likely you're experiencing anxiety in anticipation of moving to Paris.
We humans are typically resistant to change. When facing new circumstances, all we want to do is revert to our “old familiar self"—meaning, the version we’re most comfortable with. For example, Graduate, if you were typically uncomfortable about speaking up for your needs, that’s the behavior you might naturally adopt when you enter unfamiliar situations, because it’s most comfortable for you to do so. But, while it may feel counterintuitive, it’s actually in uncertain times like these that we need to lean into the characteristics that feel less safe to embrace.
As you enter your new setting, you’re going to need to channel your mom's assertiveness and honesty, giving yourself permission to speak up for what you need. You also need to remember that you deserve to "graduate" into this big move. Ultimately, this dream asks you to reconnect with the adventurous part of yourself that you might’ve lost touch with during this time of transition. These qualities, which you say your mother possessed, are what I refer to as the dream’s solution. Your dream is here to remind you that you can handle change.
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