Why do adults have anxiety dreams about school long after graduation?

Originally published at: Why do adults have anxiety dreams about school long after graduation? | Boing Boing


I’m going to go with “5 years of torture and indoctrination tends to leave a mark.”


I still dream about my qualification exam.


My go to anxiety dream is I’ve gone to a festival, been up 3 days taking speed, and I can’t find my car and I’m late for work. It sucks.


They stopped when I retired. Good news?


My go-to anxiety dream used to be the ‘walking down the hall at school and forgot my pants underwear dream’, until I took a large amount of LSD on a beach in the Caribbean, somehow boarded an intercontinental flight and came through the arrivals gate in Paris wearing a t-shirt and boxer shorts.


Weird. I’ve had the Awake World™ version of that… :thinking:


My aunt was a teacher for a long time and she says that there’s a teacher version of the school dream where she arrives in the classroom and has no idea what subject she’s supposed to teach.


I still dream of murdering my PE teacher 45 years on.


My recurring college nightmare is when I realize in the middle of the semester that I’d signed up for a class that I’d forgotten about. That day, I have a test to take, and I’m unprepared.

OH man - same. Never had the underwear in school or can’t find a class - just that I had a class I totally spaced off and I’m in there trying to figure out how to pass a final. :confused:


Am I weird for not having those?


I mean, it could just be my brain processing memories, yeah :wink:


Anyone that waited tables for some time has their own version of this one.

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I used to have that one when I was a teacher. I had teacher versions of other classics, like:

  • The semester’s almost over and there’s a course I’ve forgotten to teach all semester; now I have to fit all that material into the 2 weeks before finals!
  • It’s the morning of final exams and I realize I haven’t written the exam yet!
  • I am at the front of the room, lecturing to the class; suddenly I realize I’m not wearing any pants!

… and so forth.

Interestingly, TFA notwithstanding, I only rarely ever had these anxiety dreams when i wasn’t a teacher or a student.


Obligatory XKCD:


I had a dream where I forgot what I was going to teach, I couldn’t save any of the student submissions to the cloud, so I was afraid I’d lose them and have to just give them an A, and then I dismissed class early because I ran out of things to cover and then only after they left did I remember more to say.

I felt it was a nice graduation from the student dreams I’d had for twenty years, but no, I still have those too sometimes.

The other dreams I’ve learned from Reddit that are really common are public bathroom anxiety dreams, where the stalls are a maze or there are people walking through or you can’t find the right one.


Damn, I thought it was just me. I have these dreams with some frequency and have to talk myself down, trying to convince myself that I graduated a long time ago and this is not real. It usually takes a bit to get through to me, and often the rest of the night’s sleep is pretty much trashed.


I was well into my 30s before I could go into a school without having a panic attack.


Due to trauma, I’ve lost a lot of memory of my high school years, but that didn’t keep me from having USAF basic training flashbacks for decades after the experience! I finally went to college in my forties, about ̶s̶i̶x̶ nine years ago, so I have had some dreams resembling these since, but I’m a fairly lucid dreamer and pick up on it quickly.

A different related dream, of course, comes from a lot of sitting in front of a computer. Data entry or programming, if I’ve been doing a lot of it during my waking hours, it doesn’t take too long before I’m dreaming about it! It’s bad enough trying to find a rogue semicolon in a huge block of PHP when one’s awake, when the code won’t stay on the screen it gets really difficult. For some reason, those are harder for me to detect as dreams, possibly because there’s no end point to the activity in my past.

EDIT: Six, nine … something like that.


I absolutely get these dreams occasionally, exactly as described. College was both the best of times and the worst (better than grade school which was just the worst). It’s really no wonder I still subconsciously dread those scenarios, considering the details.