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I had a dream that I was starting college at Oberlin again...but I was older and I was starting it with a bunch of students who were normal age.  I was on campus the day before orientation.

I remember thinking that the college campus looked ugly and barren, in terms of the landscaping, much more so than I had remembered it as.  There weren't that many trees and there were especially few flower beds or shrubs.  The layout and look of the campus in the dream shared almost no resemblance to the way the college actually looks in real life, except that it was flat like Northeast Ohio, and that there were some buildings made of sandstone in the architecture of old buildings like Warner Gym.

There was a footbridge, a little like the one that crosses 38th street on Penn's campus, but it was much narrower and it just crossed over a small driveway, not a major road.  I remember there being a pine tree or other similar tree overhanging this path.

I remember thinking that I was wondering whether or not I would find time to go birdwatching during college this time around, because when I went to Oberlin, I had not yet gotten into birding, and it's something that now takes up a lot of my time.

I went to my dorm, and I had a smart card that got me into the door.  Interestingly, the door still had the old card swipe thing that I had used while at Oberlin, which was like a blast from the past, but in the dream it no longer worked and they had just left them up, and instead I held my card up to this plate to open the door.

I went inside and took the elevator to the 2nd floor.  But the elevator seemed to pass two other floors on the way up.  The elevator had glass walls and I could see into the lounges on the floors I passed.  The elevator then opened up into a lounge and there were a lot of people around, and I started talking to some of them.  I asked people if I was on the 2nd floor and they said yes...but then I said that I had seen the elevator pass two other floors on the way up...and I looked out the window and I looked high up, like I was actually on the fourth floor.  I asked people if there were floors above the one I was on, and they said yes.  But from the outside, the building had looked like it was only four stories high.  I was confused and trying to figure out how this could be possible...I didn't stop to think that I was dreaming.

Interpretation

I found this dream interesting...I'm not quite sure what it symbolizes.

I think that my reaction to the landscaping may symbolize how, while I look back fondly on Oberlin, and miss many aspects of being in college, I wouldn't necessarily be happy going back into that same environment.  I remember being antsy and discontent by the end of my time at Oberlin, perhaps even by my second year, and ready to move on to a new part of my life.  Although I want back many elements of the college environment, I definitely don't believe that Oberlin college (or any college) is an ideal environment.

I also think that my thoughts and contemplations about balancing my interest in birdwatching with the rest of my life at Oberlin is a sign of greater self-awareness about my own limitations.  When I was in college, I didn't feel like I was limited by the amount of hours in the day...in spite of how a lot of people describe college as hectic, busy, and stressful, that was not my experience.  I found it was easy to manage my time and complete all my work.  But now, living out in the "real world", I find that my time is more of a limiting factor than it even was in college, and I think this is because I have to expend much more time coordinating activities and travel just to get what I feel as my basic social needs met.  I also think that travel time (whether by foot, bike, transit, or car) eats up a huge amount of my time that was never eaten up in this way during college, when I lived without a car on a compact, walkable campus and often biked from place to place.

I think I'm more aware of these limitations now than I was in the past--especially when I was at Oberlin.  At Oberlin, I never really ran up against time constraints, I think because I was an efficient worker and also not a perfectionist.

I think the last part of the dream is more subtle.  I think it relates to the fact that I've been thinking about how I approach strangers in public, especially when I enter into situations (like coming into a dorm before the scheduled beginning of orientation) where I'm not expected to or "supposed to" be there.

I also think that the reaction of the other people symbolizes a struggle that I often have in life, that I will think about things in life, and there will be something that doesn't jive...an apparent contradiction, or something that doesn't make sense to me, and often, other people around me will not only fail to see the contradiction, but fail to acknowledge it.  I find it notable that in the dream, I didn't even feel the slightest bit of irritation, frustration, or anger...nor did I feel disconnected from or uncomfortable with the people.  I often have some of these interactions...so perhaps this symbolizes that I'm growing in ways that I see these sorts of reactions, which deny my experience or fail to acknowledge my observations or reasoning, as more natural and not grounds for me feeling defensive or disconnecting myself from people.

I think this growth will ultimately be helpful because I think when I stay in a positive emotional state, I can ultimately be more persistent and persuasive, instead of either withdrawing or giving up, or expressing irritation or anger which can cause the other people to become defensive or close off.