I’ve been having weird, recurring dreams of going back to my high school in the last month or so. The dreams either have me as a student again, or a visitor exploring how the halls have changed with the times. These dreams have been confusing me for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that I just graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree, and should be presumably at ease about school-related matters. That, and I can’t for the life of me imagine why I’d want to go back to high school at this point. While I appreciate the lessons I was taught in that era and the beautiful friendships I made, that’s the past, and that’s where I want it to stay.
I did a bit of research on recurring back-to-school dreams, along with the importance of recurring dreams in general, and found some good explanations in both psychology and dream terms. Psychology Today provides a strong explanation for the basis of recurring dreams as a symbol of something unresolved in your life. Varying dream resources explain that when you have recurring dreams of going back to high school, you’re facing insecurities from the past that may have been triggered by recent events.
After having the most recent of these dreams today, I talked to one of my favorite customers about it, and she suggested that I might be having these dreams because I’m craving more youthful activity in my life, which arguably makes sense to me. But in regards to past insecurities, I had to do a lot of meditating to determine what from my high school era could still be haunting me.
The answer is simply that I regret how shy I was back then, and that I pretty much made myself a late-blooming young gay man due to my severe denial of my sexuality. By the time my senior year in high school had ended, I was more or less aware that I wasn’t straight, but even then, I didn’t accept it until I winter break of my freshman year in college. I had multiple opportunities to come out in high school, but avoided them out of fear of the potential consequences that I was certain would arise.
High School Memories
It took me years to come out of my shell, and it wasn’t until around my senior year of high school that I became more outgoing. When I started high school as a freshman, I was extremely shy, and one of the least assertive people I knew back then. Part of it stemmed from entering a new environment, and being terrified of how massive high school was compared to middle school. Making new friends would’ve been an incredible struggle, and could’ve been next to impossible if it wasn’t for my fellow marching band members who helped me relax and let down my guard.
Freshman year had a whimsical sort of magic to me, and still does, because a year or so after I finally came out, I realized that year was when I must’ve first gained awareness that I was gay. Back then, there were a handful of senior guys that I saw around the building every day that I gained crushes on; either as a blatant lie, or due to my still ongoing romantic naiveté, I told myself that my feelings were nothing more than big brotherly admiration, due to never having an older brother.
In particular, there was one guy who, from the first day I spent as a freshman, seemed to pop up around me everyday. We started making silent eye contact with each other, and for whatever odd reasons there were, we couldn’t sotop staring at each other, which would often turn into mutually awkward moments of gawking. That senior and I started seeing each other at the most random of times, such as the marching band’s walk out to the practice field before a football game, where he came bounding past me out of the blue. That year, and repeatedly for the years to come, I had bizarre but gentle dreams of him serving a big brotherly role, though the themes only become romantic a few times.
Now that I think about it, it was probably that guy who helped me realize that I’m looking for a “big brotherly” type of guy in my pursuit of romantic happiness.
Why Couldn’t I?
Looking back on my years in high school, I honestly feel ridiculous for refusing to admit that I was gay back then. While I can’t say too much on the years above and below mine, the students in my graduating class were and still are a genuinely friendly bunch overall who don’t care about anybody being gay. While we did, of course, have a few bad apples in our bunch, our class overall was typically always kind towards each other, with social circles often seeming rarely exclusive. Between high school and college, I rarely had to deal with any homophobic nonsense, while college put my patience to the test with the angry people I had to deal with on an increasing basis.
Not to mention, I denied myself multiple potential chances for love back then. Even if that wasn’t meant to be, the likelihood that my fears cost me a chance at happiness is highly disconcerting. A dream mind viewing something like that as unfinished business sure helps explain why I keep revisiting high school at night.
The problem was that I didn’t want to deal with the increasingly obvious truth about my sexuality, and that in my paranoia, I didn’t trust that people would take it well. I have a deep fear of betrayal and rejection; if my classmates had mistreated me after I had publicly come out, I would’ve become cold and bitter.
Even though our school was and still is a larger, more liberal-leaning place, there was only one other gay guy I knew of in our class, and I didn’t want to be seen or treated as an oddity after coming out. That does happen to some gay guys after they come out, and the scenario was explained perfectly in the movie G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend):
And that’s why I feel ridiculous. Yes, there were some bad students in our year, but they were an extreme minority. Ever since I came out post-high school, all I’ve gotten from my fellow graduates has been unending love and support. Not to mention, my teachers, who I grew very close with, would’ve figuratively unleashed the fires of Hell on anybody stupid enough to try anything.
Dreams of my classmates, even the ones I never got close to, serve as a much more whimsical type of high school experience. When they occur, I’m reminded of the unending compassion we all shared for each other. In one recent dream, one of my classmates, who is surely straight, took me aside in our school’s front entrance and pleaded the following to me (might not be his exact words):
“Be careful who you want to kiss.”
I don’t take those words lightly, even if they came from a dream, because my blind naiveté has gotten my heart-broken, all because I fell for various guys who turned out to be selfish and uncaring. I have no idea for sure if this classmate of mine knows about my romantic mishaps, but nonetheless, his advice is much appreciated.
From time to time, I have a few intensely vivid dreams of some of my male classmates acting openly affectionate and romantic towards me, though the rate of those dreams has lowered significantly since I left college. The notion that I may have had a chance with one of them while we were together in high school will remain a befuddling mystery to me for a long time.
In the End
I understand that I can’t change the past, and in the end, I came out when the time was truly right. Even then, I wonder how or if things would be different if I’d made myself have the courage to accept myself sooner, and act more romantically assertive. I’m hoping that accepting all of this will make those dreams of wandering my high school’s hallways cease.