Anxiety dreams and being a Real Grown-Up (TM)


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I just woke up from this dream. It was that kind of painfully-familiar thing where you wake up and wish your anxieties would be a little less boring and predictable when they emerge from your subconscious. Even though I can’t remember ever having had this one before, I have a feeling that it’s going to become a staple.

This one? Oh, this one. I was at some sort of event that was half Rocky Horror show and half actually fending off an alien invasion, but that was just background. As I strapped on my roller skates to go kick some alien ass, my mother appeared. Not, by the way, a person who bears any resemblance to my actual mother. My actual mother is lovely, and I’m not just saying that ’cause she reads this blog. No, this was a Your Mother archetype from my subconscious. The kind that tells you precisely what you’ve been doing wrong, what a disappointment you are, and why.

It’s all about Yer Ma

So as I’m lacing up my boots, MyMa shows up and tells me that I’ve been Doing Adulthood Wrong. Seriously wrong. Everything that I’ve been doing since I became an adult. Wrong. I’ve been refusing to act or dress like an adult and, damnit, I need to start doing that now. Right now. Time to take off the boots, start dressing like a proper grown-up and go get a job in something respectable. Oh, and start a pension fund and get a mortgage and probably have a couple of kids. Then there were a few bits where I opened up my email to find oodles of job rejection letters. That bit, of course, is somewhat more realistic than my brain’s depiction of my mother. Unfortunately, dreams don’t come with sensible voices talking about the current economic climate and how getting a decent job is bloody hard these days. Which is a pity because, well, you probably know how the rest of the dream feels. You know when you’re having an anxiety dream and you’re desperately trying to get someone to listen to you? You’re screaming and crying at everyone you can, trying to explain things and they’re just standing there stony-faced. Yuck.

Of course, I know exactly why I dreamed that, even though I have no idea why my subconscious decided to pick my mother as the person to tell me I need to grow the hell up. My real-life mother has never been one for arbitrary ideas of being a grown-up. She’s pretty damn awesome.

But of course I know why I dreamed that. I’ve only a few weeks until I hit 30! I’m unemployed, living in my friend’s spare room, and I haven’t a bloody clue when I’ll get out of it. This is not what I thought I’d be doing at this age. The fact that I’m more content than I’ve been in years is irrelevant to my feverishly anxious subconscious. What matters to it is that I’m absolutely nothing like its image of a 30-year-old, and that gives it ample material to mess with me while I’m sleepily vulnerable.

suits [uniform and uniformity]

The quarter third-life crisis.

But guess what? I think this is brilliant. I haven’t had an anxiety dream about being sent back to school and made to re-do exams that I haven’t studied for in ages! This has been added to my impressive portfolio of things to worry about along with all my teeth falling out, suddenly finding out I’m extremely pregnant, and the all-time classic of watching people I love die horribly and having no way to help them. I figure that worrying about being good at being an adult means that I’m thinking about what that means to me. And there’s nothing that says nearly-30 quite like having a bit of a crisis about what on earth responsibility and happiness are for me, and how to dispense with childishness while holding on to every delicate bit of childlikeness that I can. Sorting through received ideas of what it means to be responsible, deciding which to keep and which to throw away, and working out how to be okay with that in a world that has one path it wants us all to follow to the letter. Although I’d like to have a way of doing that that didn’t involve unhappy dreams, I’m cool with that. I think that it’s a damn good way to spend my time.

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