For 25 years, ever since high school and I got involved in drama and speech & debate, I’ve had frequent “actor’s nightmares,” where I’m expected to perform on stage and I don’t know the lines or what I’m supposed to do. I get them probably twice a month for all those years — sometimes less frequently, sometimes more.
Naturally, it was at its worst back in college as a theatre undergrad, but resurged in an altered form as an English grad student as I’d have to present papers in classes and conferences. It’s a very anxiety-inducing dream that can leave me unbalanced for the rest of the day.
But last night I had the most involved dream yet of a new type of dream I’m having more frequently: I’m wanting to play guitar in public, at my real-life meager skill level, and I really really want to but for one reason or another I’m being prevented from doing so.
For example, last night, I was challenged by someone to play in a sort of battle of the bands. Two of my friends played drums and bass, and we’d set up — but technical difficulties kept preventing my playing from being heard. I saw myself playing what I really can play: power chords and fretting within a couple of basic rock/blues scales. No rock star ability, nothing special, just my own embarrassing skill — but I so desperately wanted to be heard. Yet, the volume controls wouldn’t work, the amp kept turning off, the sound cable kept shorting. It was just as frustrating and anxiety-inducing as being forced to perform but not having the lines. Weird.