Why do I dream of being back in school?

by mlennox on October 7, 2010

I had a dream the night before last that prominently featured a school that I went to as a child.  Since one of the questions I am most frequently asked is “why do I dream of being back in school,” I thought I’d share a term from my upcoming dream dictionary with you.

High school

Universal Landscape:  Passage from adolescence to adulthood.

Dreaming Lens:  How do you feel about being back in this time period?  Are you experiencing anxiety or nostalgia for days gone by?  Are you experiencing yourself as noticed or invisible; stuck or safe?  Are you with present-day friends, or your high school circle?

Personal Focus:  The primary symbolic meaning for this image is deeply connected to your own personal experience of this period in your life.  In a general sense, high school is where most of us learned life lessons of responsibility, sexual identity as well as where we built the foundation for the directions we took as grownups.  However, the overall experience of this turbulent time varies from person to person and can range from fun and joyous to excruciatingly painful.  When you dream of high school in a dream, your unconscious is expressing emotional issues that have their root at this time in your history.

As a common dream, most people experience this related to performance anxiety.  High school represents the first time as individuals that most people are faced with a level of responsibility that is most like what we deal with in the adult world.  When our current lives spark insecurity about our readiness to face life’s tests, we may express unconscious fears by returning unprepared to this time and suffer the humiliation of being lost, not knowing the schedule, not being ready for an exam, or even finding ourselves naked.

The lessons faced in adolescence were, for some, accompanied by mistakes being cleared up for us by parents or other authority figures.  As such, this dream image could indicate an unconscious wish to have the burden of adult responsibilities magically disappear as if someone else could handle them for us.
If the dream is uncomfortable, look to present stressors that may feel burdensome in the same way you felt as a teenager.  The pressure to perform at certain levels is a major theme of the high school experience.  This may be revealing issues of performance anxiety in your current life.  Inherent in this image is the fear of facing the expectations that others may have of you.  Examine your current life for issues of this nature and you will be well on your way to an accurate interpretation.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Lise Deguire October 7, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Hi Michael,

Thanks for this information! I frequently have dreams about being back in HS, and have always wondered why. Usually, I am about to take an exam for a class which I haven’t ever attended (chemistry, almost all the time). Sometimes I can’t remember my locker combination, etc.

Thanks for your blog, Michael. It looks great!

Lise

nikki March 23, 2011 at 5:38 am

I keep dreaming that I’m back in high school its like in the dream i kno i already graduated but I’m still there, i see old friends and pple i don’t know in my real life, sometimes I’m in a hallway with a bunch of pple looking for familiar face, sometimes i see them. I also find myself in classrooms with old middle school teachers but idk if i belong in their classrooms or in the hallway being late looking for my class and at times i would ser my ex :-) i lived in ny and went to high school there but i moved to miami, could that be a connection? But ive had this dreams a bounch of times these past 2 ywars, someone plz help, oh yeah i just recently got engaged too if that helps, thanks, and im not in college but i am looking for the right one to enroll to

mlennox March 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm

School is the place where we are first faced with a sense of responsibility; so we often dream of being back in school when those sorts of issues come up in our lives. Certainly getting engaged and looking into college would be life events that would certainly put you face to face with your sense of having to be responsible for your life unfolding. This dream is probably helping you deal with the stress related to those events.

Fox August 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm

So, I’m there at high school on the first day, and my cat and my little brother are with me. I come and go from classes as I please. At lunch time I see a kid I don’t recognize but I start wrestling him, and he starts fighting seriously but I hold him down. He says he has to pee but I won’t let him go and he pees in his shorts. I start laughing and telling everyone he peed his pants. Then I notice that I’m laughing so hard I’m peeing too, but it’s not pee its.. um.. yah.. and it’s coming out (no pun intended) like a stream and starting to go down my leg to my shoes. so I start to run home. I’m wearing grey urban camo shorts so it helps hide the wet spot. A kid with long blonde hair tries to stop me and talk but I tell him I gotta go. He says, okay, but come back. I go un-noticed as I head to the tennis courts trying to escape the property. I go through the indoor basketball court when the bell rings and lunch is over. The Gym coach is there and tells me to get to class,. I convince him to let me run out for just a minute. Once I reach the tennis courts there’s a snake biting at me, a cobra, but it has no venom. I grab my cat and put her on my shoulders, kick the snake and carry on. Then I realize my shorts are dry, but stained. Concerned about missing more class I suddenly think to myself, didn’t I already graduate? Then I think it’s fun to come and go as I please from classes because I don’t have to show up because I already finished school. Since the stain isn’t that bad and my pants are dried out I’m trying to decide if I want to go home or back to class and BEEP BEEP BEEP, I wake up.. WTF is up with this vivid dream. I did actually cum in my pants once in class and thought I was peeing them uncontrollably. Only to find out that my dick does more than just pee. Weird dream.

mlennox August 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

This is way too much to comment on here – but feel free to call into my radio show on Mondays from 12:00-1:00pm PDT on Unity Online Radio. You can tune in at http://www.unity.fm and the number to call is 888/558-6489. If you are out of the United States, send an email to engineer@unity.fm and give Jeff your phone number and he will call you. Anyone reading this post can feel free to call in and share a dream with me. It’s a perfect way to work with me absolutely FREE!!

John Ciampini April 6, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Great. I now know why I keep dreaming of being dumb in school.why I can’t find my classrooms. I can’t even read my schedule. I am missing all kinds of classes and know I am going to fail these classes. I feel real stupid. I can’t grasp what teachers are saying. I am overwhelmed.
I feel like I didn’t graduate yet

Brian April 26, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Have had roughly this same dream now and then for over 10 years…
I am going back to high school, in my 30′s (I am aware of my age in the dream)
Everyone there is high school age, nobody I know, all kids/etc..
I’m generally the popular guy, everyone likes me, the girls have crushes on me (in my dream I am always aware of my age and that I am married and have no interest in them that way but it still boosts me ego)
I’m usually late to class and concerned that I haven’t even attended some of the classes yet (the school year is already in progress) I’m usually trying to make sense of how I can work 50 hours a week and attend school, but I want to go to school so I ditch work
My stab at an interpretation…
a little guilt/regret for never finishing high school (stopped attending around 10th grade)
mixed with myself telling me I need to move on with adulthood/life (based on me being fully aware I am an adult in the dreams but still wanting to drop my adult responsibilities and go back to high school)
Am I close?
Thanks!

Stupid Girl and the Train Wreck April 28, 2013 at 4:49 am

I dream I’m back in school all of the time. Its very irritating because I hated school and now that I’m an adult I consider a lot of it a major waste of time. The other night I dreamed I was still a senior in high school and had been for 20 years. For some reason something always happened and I never finished. I suddenly realized what an utter waste of time it had been since I now have a very successful business that has nothing to do with anything I learned in high school and told everyone I was quitting. Everyone tried to talk me out of it so I let loose a stream of profanity (in a Christian School) on them, walked out of class, and drove away in my new Mercedes :). I have dreams like this all of the time. I hate it.

mlennox April 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Brian, I think you are indeed close. Feelings of inadequacy are often reflected in how we think other people are perceiving us. In this case, you are experiencing yourself as popular and well liked which indicates an absence of judgment for the education you have. I think you are onto something about the dream indicating that you need to move on with adult life, but also consider this: There is an integration taking place in that you are attempting to figure out how to balance all the things you desire and you choose education of work; this to me is about priorities that can (ultimately) lead to balance.

mlennox April 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm

You can release the hold that these dreams have on you by spending a little waking time working on the dream. You must do this in a creative way – draw a picture of the classroom you visit, maybe even putting a picture of yourself letting loose the profanity (it can be a stick figure, it doesn’t have to be fine art!). By using your creative mind to respond to the dream, your unconscious will get that you are paying attention and may start using other images to communicate with you.

Cletus LaGrange April 30, 2013 at 12:20 am

This dream has been going on for years. I’m always the same age as I am now, mid-30s at the moment, usually wondering what I’m doing there and trying to figure a way to get out without getting “in trouble”. Then realizing my age again and knowing that I can leave anytime I want. Sometimes I’m worried though, if I skip a day, that could be one day closer to failure. But, I still feel anxious and the need to leave. Sometimes I’ve moved a lot of my possessions into a classroom, almost as if I live there, and I’m worried about making sure I take it all with me. Actually, that part is reoccurring in many other dreams, too. All of my stuff is in a place and I need to leave fast. Sometimes I make a break for it and I can’t find the car I had in high school in the parking lot, even though I remember driving and parking it that morning…in the dream. So many more layers to this dream. I’m actually tired of it. It ruins my sleep even though during my waking moments I’m in a comfortable place. All through elementary school my teachers thought I was possibly, slightly, just a little mentally challenged until the testing results came in. I blew the other kids out of the water. They didn’t know what to do with me. I left right before the end of my senior year. I hated that place. I’m in a region that is more anti-intellectual than not. Ignorance seems to be encouraged and rewarded sometimes. Bible Belt nonsense. I had my few friends and the rest I didn’t care for. That goes for most of the teachers, too. I have no regrets just not going back. I even went to the graduation to celebrate with my friends and went on one of the best road trips of my life the next day. I got my GED soon after, above average in all subjects except math, which was average. My 20s were a little rough because of all the partying I did. Fun/not fun. I’m over it now. I went to college until I realized the student loans weren’t worth going anymore. I make decent money and live comfortably. I have good family and friends around me. I don’t know what this is. It’s even lucid sometimes and I can’t force myself get up to stop the dream. I’m just still there half awake, ambling around and worrying about getting out of there. I just wish it would stop. Maybe there really is something going on subconsciously that I just can’t pinpoint.

I don’t expect any real response to this. I was just sharing my version of this annoying dream.

James July 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I constantly have dreams where I enroll back into high school at my current age (30′s). I feel extremely awkward, friendless and out of place. I have trouble finding my classrooms and always late to class and have difficulty keeping up with the work. But there is a small part of me withing the dream that wants to be there even though it’s a very different high school experience then my real one. What does this mean?

Sean July 19, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thank you for this explanation, Dr. Lennox. I have had this dream over the last 20 years, but stronger in recent years. Your explanation helps me see that this may be connected to my difficulty deciding what to do with my career and possibly going back to college. I usually wake from this dream feeling stressed (high school was a turbulent time for me). The theme of the dream is usually me feeling overwhelmed, lost and alone while everyone else seems to know where they are going and not alarmed by the setting we are in.

Allistair August 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

My back to high school dreams usually involve the social aspect of life, i dream of being back in school with all the things i learned about myself, and with a cleansed state of mind, back in high school i was kinda quiet, no i really didn’t even bother to speak to anyone, i also seemed to have slacked off in school work, depression and anxiety kinda got the best of me.
Now in the dreams(yes plural) the dream is kind of a great experience because i do things the way i would if i could’ve gone back in time as i am today, kind of like wishful thinking, a subconscious yearning to resolved all my unresolved high school, and even middle school, issues, thanks for the read, it’s always great to know there are people who have mutual experiences.

Beck September 9, 2013 at 4:44 am

I used to have the recurring dream of my teeth falling out a few years ago. Now, that particular dream seems to have been replaced with the recurring dream of being back in high school, struggling to pass a test, or a class or classes in order to graduate. However, in the dream, I’m always aware that in reality I have already graduated college and graduate school with two Bachelors and a Masters degree, which I have. Currently, I’m 35, single with no children, and my job is nowhere remotely close to the field I pursued in college. Could this dream be linked to a subconscious insecurity about my professional and personal accomplishments or lack thereof?

MDJ October 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm

I dream about HS a lot and I never know its a dream until I wake up. In my dreams, I’m always failing math and don’t remember my locker combination. lol

michelle allen December 29, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hi, this was my first time dreaming of being back in hs, each dream I have I try to find meaning of. Anyway, I dreamed of being a Sr. In hs with past and present friends. Even though I couldn’t find my class, locker or math book, I was having a good time seeing everyone. Being there with everyone was nice and I was even engaged to my fiance, who I didn’t know in hs. I was happy wanteing to show my ring, but it’s being sized(in reality it is, so can’t show it to anyone). Thanks in advance for your interpretation.

icp February 18, 2014 at 6:17 am

last night i had a dream about being in math class, then had sex with a hot teacher then had to waltk though a strange version of my town infested by nice cops who bought me Gatorade and mean cops that sent me to jail for no damn reason wired as hell had other dreams that are simmiler.

Amy February 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm

mlennox,

Within the past couple years I have had reaccuring dreams that I’m back in HS. They are not all the same, but just about. I don’t see people that I know and I’m not at schools that I was in real life. I can never find my classes and I’m always late. The being late is all the same in every dream. In my dreams I claim that I am my real age and that I’m just coming back to get more education. Currently I’m in the military and am 24 yeras old. The dream from last night I claimed my age and that I was in the military and that I was sent here by the military to continue schoool. So weird. Was wondering if you could give me some answers as to why I have the same type of school dream every time.

keisha February 25, 2014 at 6:46 am

last night i dreamt i was back in high school..all my previous class mates were there including some of primary school mates they were all sitting in a beat up class room..everyone was staring at me i felt so unwelcome.as i sat down my parents appeared i was so angry at them,i ran out and lost a sock and shoe,when i went back to get it my mum was still there crying i ignored her, i picked up my sock and noticed how dirty it was but my foot was clean..what does this mean

adrianne April 9, 2014 at 8:57 am

I have this dream im in high school alot. I dream im in a class and I dont know anyone in there, I think ive been in it before and try to recognize a familiar face but I dont, I ask if anyone remebers me but noone answers, I look in my bag for my schedule but its not there. I start panicking because I know its almost time for class to switch. I try and follow some of the other kids but usually loose them. Each time I have this dream the kids are usually different. Once and awhile someone will talk to me but not long. As much as I hated school it was probley one of the best times and years in my life so why am I always so lost and feel insecure in this dream?

Oz July 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm

i have this dream a lot, i see all my old friends collectively and when i wake i realise how pivotal such random characters in my life were but in a way i feel like i have never parted from them, it’s always the group of people i grew up with and had the time of my life with but i never see anymore its a very strange feeling but it always make me happy to have those dreams they feel like we are really catching up again and i wonder if i am in their dreams

Terrica July 17, 2014 at 1:26 am

I’m 14 and I’m going to high school next year. I’ve been having high school related dreams 3-4 nights a week. In these dreams I’m looking for my schedule or my friends. I usually end up getting dissed by one of my friends and welcomed by another. Or I find my class room… I really don’t know what to think. During the summer I usually chill at home and disconnect from any type of social media. Just me time. But I don’t know I think I might me afraid that when I get back my friends won’t want yo be my friends any more… Or worse I might not be able to find my classes! I’ve never been the time to be super nervous about school. It doesn’t feel different but maybe it is..Its high sschool after all! When I first got to seventh grade I remember being super friendly and open and embracing to my new school.. And just like that the school let me in! Let me embrace it even though I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have any friends! …. I think I’m afraid this high school will be so totally different but I don’t know honestly!

mlennox July 17, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Shifting to high school is a big transition and can be scary. Dreams help us with our fears by processing what we’re frightened of. These dreams are not predicting what your high school experience will be, but rather helping you deal with your underlying fears so that you can meet the experience of going to high school open, ready and excited. Good luck!!

palvin July 21, 2014 at 9:55 pm

I dnt attnd school bt I dreamed,passed wt high marks dn adas in de class

Chaz July 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I keep having this reoccurring dream of being lost in school. I also lost my schedule and I keep asking for a new one but I never get one. So I just walk around aimlessly worth no friends or teachers to ask, just a bunch of faceless students. I usually break down and wake up sweating. I was never popular in high school. I actually had an extremely negative image that people I’ve never even heard of hated me so I didn’t really have any friends and I still don’t. Not that I’m upset about it. I think it is just me being afraid to grow up. I really don’t want to work. I don’t want to be surrounded by strange people every day working a meaningless job just so I don’t get booted. Life sucks

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