SHS members share their vivid dreams

We may think we know the people around us – our friends, peers, teachers, colleagues – well, but could looking at their dreams tell a different story? And are our adventures under the moon symbolic, maybe even prophetic, or merely reconstructions of our hours awake? 

A survey about sleep experiences was sent out to SHS students and staff, amassing a total of 108 responses. The questions asked about things from how often people remember their dreams, to certain themes they’ve noticed among them, also touching on rarer experiences such as lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis.

To start off with, many felt they liked sharing their own dreams more than listening to those of others, unless they had a personal stake in it – “you were in my dream last night” is a phrase that tends to spark intrigue and excitement. 

This shouldn’t be surprising, given that some responders also expressed how they often felt like they couldn’t connect to these experiences of other people. It wasn’t necessarily that they didn’t want to hear about a friend’s dream at all; it just wasn’t the same as having the dream themselves. 

“I don’t like it when I can’t understand someone’s perspective [on their dreams],” one person shared. “…Why it was important or remarkable to them.” Another’s echoed this sentiment. “We see and feel so much in our own dreams, but all it ever sounds like to others is a jumble of random scenes.” 

And perhaps it is, but there’s also no denying that certain dreams can have profound impacts on people, even if they aren’t your own. 

“I love hearing about the innermost parts of people [through their dreams],” one respondent said. “…Even if they seem random, I think they can actually say a lot about someone.” 

Psychologists don’t entirely agree on what our dreams do mean, but the general consensus is that they are either a collective of things that have happened to us – a way of ‘sorting through’ or purging the data of our everyday lives –, an expression of emotions and thoughts relevant to our lives, or a combination of both. 

In addition, five Shorewood students and staff chose to share both their dreams and perspectives on these existential questions in a more in-depth interview.



SYLVIE DAMN, Sophomore 


“During summer of 2021, I got really into the idea of lucid dreaming, and just was interested in dreams in general. I started keeping a dream journal in my notes app, writing down all of my dreams in as much detail as possible. Getting into the habit of writing them down gave me a way better memory of my dreams … I never really got to lucid dreaming, but I still think it was interesting the way writing down dreams affected my memory and the way I think about them … being mindful of your dreams is a good way to honor [your] subconscious.”




“The most vivid dream that I’ve had in my life happened a little less than a year ago regarding my family dog, Frieda, who had recently passed away. In my dream, I stopped by my parents’ house for dinner. As I opened the door, Frieda was there like she always was, her favorite toy in her mouth, ready to greet me. Everything about this dream was very vivid when it came to my senses — she looked exactly the same, had the same smell, and her fur felt exactly the same. After she greeted me, she curled up in my lap, almost as if to say that she was OK and at peace now. It was such a surreal experience that I’ll never forget … I’ve found most of my vivid dreams typically involve really intense and emotional moments in my life.”


ENZO LITZ, Sophomore


“When I was younger, I had a teacher that I didn’t really like at the time – she’ll tie in later – and one time I had a dream I got lost from my house – I used to live on a cliff, which will also tie in later. My friend and I were on a field trip and we fell off a bridge built over a ravine. I was only in a bit of pain, though, and we ended up walking back to my house. I got back to my house and my teacher was there, waiting, with a huge rake. 


She started chasing me and my friend, and my friend was able to turn into a bird and fly away, but I couldn’t do the same, so I just kept running until I woke up. This teacher would go on to become a recurring character in my dreams – [usually] nightmares. Thinking back, she’s actually really sweet, but she was scary to me at the time … often [my dreams] are some sort of big adventure [like this one].”




“I was in a motel and there was a cougar there, just running around. I ended up killing the cougar, but then it jumped into this icy pool and turned into a massive fish – even bigger than the cougar. [I remember] the pool was also a combination of a swamp and a pond. I tried to grab the fish, but when I reached out, it disappeared … I think it’s trying to say that I’m trying to get that fish, but that fish isn’t coming for me. I strive for it, but I can never get it. [But I also think] dreams are a confusing mismatch of stuff that happened in your life that your brain is still processing.”





“I had a dream that I was walking through a house. Every time the night came around, my vision would start to go wobbly and I’d see a bunch of dark, strange creatures, kind of like something out of a Salvador Dali painting. With each night, the delusions got worse and I would pass out while having [them]. They were getting so bad [that] in the dream I told my mom, ‘Mom, I think I need help.’ She said, ‘We’ll figure something out tomorrow,’ But in the dream, I didn’t know if I would make it to the morning.


This [dream] was really scary because it just felt so real, like something that could happen in real life. I think it represents feeling trapped in routine habits and how breaking free of them can be impossible.”


Symbolic or not, dreams have a lot of influence over our everyday lives and conversations. And as the old Built to Spill lyric goes, “No one wants to hear / What you dreamt about / Unless you dreamt about / Them.” But maybe we can change that. By explaining why our dreams are important to a listener, we might be able to learn more about ourselves, the world around us, and forge deeper social bonds.