Dream Interpreter: A surprise party, new tattoos, & home renovations

The Journal's dream interpreter analyzes a dream about growing up

Journal File Photo

I’m Meryl Sleep, Queen’s resident dream interpreter. I analyze dreams in an effort to decode the symbols in each Queen’s student’s subconscious. Today’s dream involves a surprise party, new tattoos, and home renovations.


My dream began with me planning my first-year roommate’s surprise birthday party. When I came home, everyone was there and yelled surprise, practicing for the real thing. I made them all hide upstairs until the actual party, which was the next day.

My roommate came home and I had to keep him in the living room, so he wouldn’t know about the surprise party. I eventually convinced him to leave the house by agreeing to get a tattoo. 

I decided to get a dinosaur head on my upper thigh, but my roommate decided not to get one because it hurt too much. 

So instead we went home and the house was now being renovated by my parents. The stairs had been removed and the toilet was placed behind the couch.

My roommate suddenly revealed that he actually did get a tattoo, but I was confused because the design kept moving when I looked at it. I woke up while looking at the tattoo.

Dear Dreamer,

In previous interpretations, I’ve spoken about nonsensical dreams as frameworks for understanding your own mental state. When a dream features a series of unrelated events, it’s often indicative of excessive stress in your real life, which causes your mind to rapidly process many different ideas at once. As your brain sorts through your feelings, it strings together a series of disparate images into a single confusing narrative.

However, the familiar faces and settings ground your dream in reality. While the events of the dream may not have actually occurred, the inclusion of recognizable elements provides meaningful context for them, and suggests they’re an unconscious reflection on your actual life.

Overall, this dream seems like a meditation on growing up and all the changes occurring within that process. The action is centered on your interactions with your family and friends from university, resembling a clash between your childhood and adulthood.

Together, the new tattoos and the home renovations signify permanent change to both yourself and your surroundings. A tattoo is a change in your appearance, possibly representing a change in how you see yourself, whereas the renovations are a change to your environment. Your displeasure at the renovations—which were completed at the will of someone else—also suggests that the changes weren’t something you wanted, and therefore you might harbour some lingering anxiety about them. How has your life changed in the last couple of weeks—do you perceive these changes as positive or negative?

As well, consider that your parents were leading the renovations. Do you feel like your relationship with them has changed as you’ve gotten older?

These changes seem to be linked with growing up. You’re planning a surprise birthday party for your first-year roommate, marking a celebration of time passing. As well, you get a tattoo of a dinosaur on your leg, perhaps indicating a reluctance to let go of your childhood by way of permanently commemorating it through the design.

Your roommate also gets a tattoo, suggesting that they’ve changed since you first met them. As you can’t seem to focus on their tattoo to identify the design, it’s likely that you’re unable to identify exactly how they’ve changed.

Permanent changes can be scary, especially when they feel sudden. University life brings a nearly endless number of changes, and it can feel difficult to keep up because they often impact the structure of your closest relationships. However, it sounds like you have a close-knit group of friends who want to support you through any difficulties during this period of time.

Remember, while growing up can be difficult, it’s not all bad. Adjusting to new conditions will be easier if you accept the changes as they happen, instead of trying to hold yourself in place.

Sweet dreams! 

Meryl Sleep

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