Last night I dreamt I got cut from my BFA program my junior year and smashed a fish bowl intending to kill myself with the shards but failing so miserably that I just stood there bleeding impotently while a flood started to pour in through the floor. The absolute worst part of this nightmare was that it jerked me awake 20 minutes before my alarm went off, ruining the last precious moments of the morning. Don’t worry; I still managed to be late to work.
This dream stuck with me all day, poking me in the brain whenever I let my guard down. What did it mean? Why was it happening? Was it giving me wrinkles?
The thing about any good BFA theater program, and many bad ones, is that they cut people who they feel aren’t professionally viable, don’t fit with their particular program, or who really eff up in a major way. I will say that I know plenty of people who have been cut and have gone on to have much better careers than I, and that there are tons of very talented actors without BFAs. I still think cuts are necessary for each program to find the people who will be the most successful within that program. They are also a mind fuck.
I spent the better part of two years (my theater department only cut through sophomore year) panicked about being cut. Panicked. I was certain that I would be cut and my life would be over, which was honestly a huge waste of time and prevented me from making the brave choices and from being open to learning.
The real panic of my dream was being so terrible, so unlovable and worthless that they made a special exception for me and cut me after three wasted years of college. Then I wasn’t even able to kill myself with the broken glass of a dramatically smashed (empty) fish bowl.
I looked up all the symbols I could think of on a dream dictionary (shockingly, getting cut from your BFA program wasn’t on there) and floods, suicide, broken glass, and blood. All signs pointed to feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Also, the dream dictionary made the point that “emotions in dreams are often overstated…overdramatically.” Uh, no crap dream dictionary. Also, anyone looking up their dream symbols online has probably heard that she is over-dramatic before.
I rarely remember my dreams; when I do I believe my mind is trying to get my attention. I am prone to anxiety……. I’ll give you a moment to recover from your shock…… And I am always looking for new ways to manage it: breathing, aerobics, yoga, compulsive shopping. My life is good. So I need to find a way to enjoy the good moments and breathe through the more challenging ones. Meanwhile, I’m staying away from low elevation and empty fish bowls, just in case.