School starts in a little over a week. Even without the date starred on the calendar, I can feel it looming. My psyche is reminding me in its usual twisted way. Every year about this time, my sub-conscious mind starts working out my anxiety in my dreams. Last night was a doosy.
I was sitting on a dais with two of my colleagues and President Obama. One of my colleagues leans over and whispers that the President is expecting me to say a few words. I am thrown into a panic, and reach under the table to pull out a yellow legal pad. Why there were office supplies under the table is a mystery. Once one is having dinner with President Obama, why quibble over the weird details? I begin to write, and the words flow like water over the page. I don't remember what these amazing words were, but at the time I knew what I had written was damn good. I'm feeling confident, and I stride to the podium, smiling at the President and all the people in the audience...which was huge by the way. I lay my yellow sheets of mind-blowing prose on the podium and open my mouth to speak.
Nothing comes out.
I struggle to say hello, to say my name, to say anything, and I am struck completely mute. I look around and everyone is waiting patiently, unaware of of my problem. I can't even speak to tell them something is wrong. In my head, I'm screaming, and I woke sitting straight up and sweating. Hello anxiety dream.
This is a new variation. Usually my anxiety dreams involve school a little more directly. I've dreamed that I have no books or furniture. I've dreamed that I'm supposed to teach a subject about which I know nothing. I've dreamed I have no rosters and 100 kids in my room. I had these dreams in college as well. Before a big test, I would dream that I couldn't find the classroom, and I knew I was going to be late, or I would get to the class and realize I was still in my pajamas.
I know other teachers have these dreams as well. I was at a meeting on Wednesday, and a teacher who has been teaching 20 years told me she still has anxiety dreams. She dreamed she couldn't find an administrator to give her a schedule, and then she missed all of her classes.
At the root of the dreams is anxiety about being prepared. I am going into my 12th year as a teacher. I could do the first week of school with one hand tied behind my back. I have that routine down. What's more, it's my favorite part of the school year. I love the first weeks when the honeymoon is still going strong. My fresh-faced ninth graders are all excited to be in high school, and I get to reinvent myself and my curriculum all over again. I have no reason to be anxious.
Still, becoming mute in the face of an audience indicates a certain level of anxiety. Throwing Obama and writing into the mix makes me wonder what else is on my sub-conscious mind. I'm not going to examine it too closely. I'm going to enjoy the last couple of days of summer break lost in my manuscript, and then next week I'm going to prepare for my darlings with a positive attitude. And I'm going to speak out loud...a lot. :)