That Crazy Dream About Your High School Locker (and Finding Answers)


So, I’ve been having that dream a lot lately. You know, the one where you’re back in high school with your big ideas and your bigger hair, wearing nothing but a plastic…wait a second.

I mean the one where you can’t remember your locker combination.

It’s funny, because I never worried about forgetting those three secret numbers when I was actually in high school. Sure, there were a couple of times when I couldn’t get my locker open — like when I was sharing it with one of my equally disorganized BFF’s, and our books, folders, and industrial hair spray bottles were so jammed inside that we had to get a Brother (of the Franciscan variety) to find a crowbar, and help a girl out.

But this week, my dreams turned to those dimly-lit, musty-carpeted hallways, and ended with me staring at my locker in cold fear. Can. Not. Remember.

Now, I dream about high school quite a bit. Maybe because that’s where I met my husband and many of my (still) closest friends. Or, maybe because for me it represents an easier (note: I’m not saying “better”) time. When my current days have been spent trying to fit in the extra’s — like eating and sitting down — my nights can be spent lounging in English class, making dioramas out of shoe boxes.

But the locker dream is a different beast.

According to dreammoods.com (which, for our purposes, we’ll assume is the Webster of dream dictionaries), “To dream that you cannot open a locker or that you forgot the combination, suggests that you are unsure of where you stand in a particular situation.


I do have a lot of questions about my writing career right now: About finding equal time for fiction and freelance work, and whether certain stories are ready to go. About potential job opportunities, and keeping up word counts when the kids are home for the summer. And about figuring out who ate my last Mother’s Day toffee?! (Because in case you’re wondering, chocolate and writing are totally related.)

I recently picked up The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen in hopes of answering some of these mind-shattering questions. It was a good read, and suggested some great ways to stay on track and make better use of your writing time. The magic formula here is a matter of organization and drive.

In fact, maybe that’s the combination I’m looking for as I stare at that metal rectangular monster of my dreams. I’m not searching my brain for the right numbers to open a locker, but for the right plan to unlock a successful balance. To find solutions. To discover where I stand within this crazy writing life.

Looking at my dream in this light, it’s not really scary anymore — it’s intriguing.  I may not have all the answers, but the tools and desire are there. And that cumbersome storage unit may even eventually open.

I mean, if I kick it hard enough.

Or find a crowbar.

Here’s hoping for sweeter dreams tonight.


Do you have a recurring “stress” dream? When wearing different hats (writerly or otherwise), how do you find balance and measure your successes?

Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

35 thoughts on “That Crazy Dream About Your High School Locker (and Finding Answers)”

  1. In all honesty, what stresses me out is finding time.

    I NEED to stay healthy and exercise.

    I NEED to keep a clean, organized home for my children.

    I NEED to do outdoor activities with them like bike ride, take walks, hike.

    I NEED to attend each one’s sports events

    I NEED to read to write better. And I don’t mean blogs.

    AND I NEED to prepare delicious meals.

    Throw in need for laundry, sleep, grocery shopping and what do you do??


  2. I do have this reoccurring dream theme of loosing my teeth, or other people loosing teeth. Apparently my subconscious is very into teeth.

    Balance? What is that? (clearly I need to work on this)


  3. I am staring at this comment box unable to come up with a good response. For lo, I am at a crossroads. Here, in your comment box, I am at a crossroads.

    I think I’ll take a nap.


  4. Similar dream… can’t remember the combination, but it’s my mailbox at college. It’s the first day of school and my class schedule is in there. Hmmmmmm. I have this one a lot!!

    Were we ever locker buddies in HS? If so, I’m totally offended that you called me unorganized!


  5. I dream about high school all the time, too. The most annoying recurring dream I have about it is one where I miss the bus. I must have that dream at least three times a month. Strange.


    1. Very interesting, Maggie. I only rode a bus for one year of my school career, so that’s not a dream I’ve ever had. Seems like many of us are trying very hard to get somewhere in our real lives, and are dreams are not allowing for it!


  6. The locker combination one for sure. Thanks for the dream interpretation – makes perfect sense. Off to discover what stumbling around my campus in a panic because I cannot locate my class schedule 3×5 card means. Though I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere in the locker combination ballpark.

    Sweet dreams!!


    1. Hi Ash — Just wrote to Lisa (below) that I’ve had that can’t-find-my-classes dream. I rarely dream about college, though. Maybe because it was too much of a (fun) blur.


  7. Great post! I am constantly readjusting (struggling/wrestling) the precarious balance between homeschooling my kids and writing. And yes, eating and sleeping — and laundry — get wedged in their somewhere too. I’ve never had the locker dream — mine is the one where you have to take a math test and you didn’t study. One. Little. Bit. It’s a similar message from dreamland, I think: standing on an edge, not sure which way to go. I’ll wish us both some chocolate and crowbars — and the fortitude to keep fine-tuning the balance as we go. Cheers!


    1. Thank you, Lisa. It seems like there are many variations of this dream. I’ve also had one where I can’t find any of my classes, so I just wander around aimlessly worrying about being late.

      🙂 Yes, chocolate and crowbars — what more does anyone need?


  8. Now Husband dreams a lot about being at work, except he is retired. And no one at work pays attention. And he becomes very agitated. I tell him that he has spent more time dreaming about being at work than actually being at work. I don’t know what I dream about, except it’s very strange and I never remember it.


  9. For several years after my bachelor’s degree I dreamed that I had not completed an independent study course…(that I had never enrolled in)…therefore, I had not really graduated. It went away after I got my master’s. But it confused me. Haven’t dreamed in decades (that I remember)…having died to sleep in exhaustion after…did I already say decades? of teaching days. Hmmmm….


  10. I can relate to your stress dream.

    I haven’t had it for several years, but I used to get the waitressing nightmare. I would be unfamiliar with the computer, so my orders were slow, coworkers were getting mad because I was holding their orders up, the cooks were angry because my food wasn’t getting delivered and it clogged up the line and my customers were agitated because they were hungry and I still hadn’t brought their drinks. It usually ended with me crying in the dream and then waking up drenched in sweat. It was horrible.


    1. Aaah — I’ve never had the waitressing dream! Were you a waitress? I was a hostess in college, so maybe I’m blocking out that I had dreams of seating people improperly. 😉

      Glad you haven’t had this one in awhile, Janna.


      1. Yes, I waitressed for nearly four years in college. One place I worked was awfully close to the scene I described from my nightmare. Maybe I’ve blocked it out of my mind now, too!


  11. I was telling my daughter the other day that every grownup she knows has high school stress dreams. She didn’t believe me.

    > About finding equal time for fiction and freelance work, and whether certain stories are ready to go.

    Stories are never finished. They escape.


  12. Amanda–I have the locker combination dream all the time. Seriously. I don’t have the test dream that some people discuss where they forgot to study, although I do have a recurring dream about forgetting to go to my math class for the entire year and then the counselor not letting me drop it. It’s eery how many of us can have the same dreams! Great post! And yes–I am ALWAYS unsure about where I stand in my writing–especially in the novel department.


    1. I think writing about this was good for me, because #1) I found I’m not the only one having this dream, and #2) I haven’t had this dream (or any stress dream) since posting it.

      Hopefully the uncertainty keeps us moving forward, Nina. Happy writing~


  13. Oh man, Amanda, you’ve hit this one on the head. I keep dreaming that I’m back at high school and I’ve missed some classes or credits to graduate so they won’t let me go. Or I’m in college and basically it’s the same thing.

    What does it all mean, Amanda? I’m thinking that maybe it has to do with my book. That I haven’t finished “graduating” yet and I should be patient for it to finished. What do you think?


    1. I think that’s a good guess, Ollin. Patience, patience, patience — the book will be ready when it’s ready. Right? (I think I’ll actually start chanting this to myself.)


  14. So interesting that I should read this today. My son, my sweet-organized-neat freak- slightly OCD son, was just asking me today: “What happens if I forget my locker combination when I’m in middle school?” (He’s 8 years old and will be in the 3rd grade in the fall) I tried to calm him by telling him he still has 3 more years before he has to worry about that. It didn’t calm him in the least. I foresee “forget your locker combination” dreams in his future.


  15. I’m a teacher and my recurring dream (nightmare) is that my students are living with me. They’re all crammed into my home, going through my things. I wake up in a cold sweat.



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