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In Your Dreams

Anxious Over Loss of Student Identity


Dear Cynthia: I'm 22, just earned a biology degree from Caltech and am looking (rather halfheartedly) for a job. My dream: I was standing on a lawn, and a woman offered me a puppy, saying, "He'll need care and protection."

At first I thought it was a stuffed animal, but it turned warm and alive in my hands. I cuddled him to my face, and he weakly tried to nuzzle my cheek. I was so happy. Then a swarm of wasps came out of nowhere and landed on my face. They stuck there so hard that I could feel their feet pricking me, I couldn't shake them off; they would start stinging at any second. I realized that the puppy was attracting the wasps.

Desperate to get the insects off my face, I tossed him onto the grass. The wasps left at once. I turned around and saw them covering the helpless puppy. I wanted to save him, but I couldn't see any way to do it without getting the wasps on me again.


Dear Rachel: Something you thought was a plaything became a responsibility. You are no longer a student but a soon-to-be-working person. When first graduating, there are lots of warm congratulations and it all feels good. Your face is your identity, the puppy just beginning life is you beginning life as a graduate. Your new identity is alive, and all is right with the world.

But, alas, the stinging insects arrive and cover your identity. Something is bugging you and is almost ready to sting, undermining your new sense of self. It's the puppy, or you as a ready-to-work adult, attracting it. This indicates that either you are being hard on yourself, or, more likely in this instance, others have expressed subtle barbs, such as, "So, when do you start working?" or "Any luck finding a job?"

You throw the puppy to the lawn to protect your identity. It would seem that you enjoyed being a student and haven't quite evolved into the new self-definition. There is even a part of you considering continuing in higher education to avoid the job hunt and possible rejection. Just reinforce your ultimate desire and give yourself a little time to adjust, regardless of what others think.


Cynthia Richmond is the author of "Dream Power, How to Use Your Night Dreams to Change Your Life" (Simon & Schuster). Fax your dreams to Cynthia Richmond at (818) 783-3267 or e-mail them to Please include your hometown and a daytime phone number. "In Your Dreams" appears every Tuesday and should be read for entertainment purposes only.

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