I keep dreaming that it is the morning of my Bat Mitzvah (circa April/1995) and I am utterly unprepared. I step up to the Bimah, breathe deeply, look down at the Torah in front of me and, suddenly, everything I've learned in Hebrew School eclipses me. My parents are mortified, the Rabbi shakes his head in disgust and the boy I like, who is sitting in the third pew, gets up and walks out. I stand, frozen, looking out at them, watching my adolescent life as I know it go up in flames. This is, I suppose, the Jewish version of the Late-for-the-SAT-with-No-Number-Two-Pencils-Dream or the Naked-at-School/Work-Dream--all about exposure, embarrassment and public shame.
Of course, none of this is founded in reality. It's hardly relevant, but, for the record, I kicked ass at my Bat Mitzvah. I was poised and articulate. My parents and grandparents were beside themselves with pride, the Rabbi kissed my cheek and whispered "I'm so proud of you!" in my ear and (also totally irrelevant), at the evening reception, the aforementioned boy gave me a silver necklace and slow-danced with me to Boyz II Men's I'll Make Love to You.
So why then, does my sleeping brain insist on my reliving this event as though it were disastrous? Why is my subconscious catastrophizing something my conscious mind regards as a (albeit long-passed) success?
Unlike Sigmund Freud, who linked anxiety dreams explicitly with the "result of transformation of sexual desire," his colleague, Carl Jung (with whom Freud had a bitter falling out in 1914, due in part to their differing opinions on the interpretation of dreams) impressed that "dreams are 'the direct, natural expression of the current condition of the dreamer's mental world.'" So, since I consider my sexual desire to be firmly intact, perhaps it stands to reason that I have been a little bit anxious lately. Or, a lot bit.
Actually, I know for certain that I have been. Worried, anxious and uncharacteristically self-conscious of late. It's been incredibly lame. But there's good news--I just have to remember to remember it: just as my Bat Mitzvah dream demonstrates unfounded fears about my ability to read Hebrew articulately in front of my family, peers and synagogue elders, the waking anxiety that is causing the dreams is also rooted in untruth. I am fine.
So, in hopes of, at the very least, more fitful sleep, I hereby pledge that, when made-up worries enter my normally-relaxed mind, I will simply close my eyes, breathe deeply and wish myself "Mazel Tov."