Advice, Lifestyle

The ins and outs of daydreaming

I’ve always been a dreamy person. Not necessarily like I stare out of windows when I’m supposed to be paying attention in class, but in that, I always think about specific scenarios that could happen but haven’t actually occurred in my own life. Usually, I frame these scenarios into some sort of story — like a scene of a novel with no plot.

Thinking back, that’s probably where my love for writing and telling stories originated. From a young age, I loved to imagine events that could happen. It didn’t involve mythical creatures or a fantasy world. It was always realistic situations. Now that I think about it, this form of daydreaming is probably why I’ve always had a fascination with mundane situations — I once wrote a whole short story after seeing a guy attempt to flirt with a girl at a flower shop. The guy didn’t get a date, but I got a fun imagined story out of it.

I’ve lately come to question exactly why I focus on these moments so much. Why does it seem like I analyze the scenarios other people seem to brush over? Why do I take imagining scenarios before going to bed to another level?

ocean view
An ocean view. Lifestyle editor Katrina discusses her lifelong tendency to daydream and how it manifests in aspects of her personal and collegiate life. COURTESY OF WILLY VERHULST VIA FLICKR

After many years, I’ve finally come to understand that building hypothetical situations in my head is my way of dealing with the stress life brings — whether it be college deadlines that are glaring back at me in my planner, the constant question of what I want post-grad to look like or various life events that threaten to diminish my natural optimism about life. 

In the past, these hypothetical scenarios have originated from music to TV show characters to passing moments involving close friends or mere acquaintances. For example, I’ve recently been playing “Glee” in the background while doing homework, focusing on small moments within the show that one can only focus on if they’ve seen the show multiple times. 

For my fellow “Glee” watchers, one scene I’ve focused on is when Blaine Anderson sings “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston in season three episode 17. All the reactions of the fellow Glee Club members are hilarious, as they stare at Kurt Hummel absolutely gobsmacked. But the ones that stand out to me are Santana and Sam’s towards the beginning — Sam’s subtle judgmental look and Santana’s obvious one. Not only is it comedic gold, but it got me thinking about the idea of different and nuanced reactions to the same situation, especially being put side by side on the same screen. This was all from a scene that you would’ve missed if you blinked.

A couple of years ago, I came across a Tumblr blog titled “Excerpts From A Book I’ll Never Write.” Since then, I’ve treated journal entries as exactly that. They’re all excerpts born out of my tendency to zero in on something. No one besides me is ever going to read these because they’re purely for my own sake. In other words, all of these imagined plots that stem from my observations of the world I’m surrounded by are my way of keeping grounded.

For some people, this may seem like a distraction, and that’s totally understandable. It just depends on what kind of person you are. With the imagining of these situations, it’s all about balance. It’s my way of taking a break from everyday life.

My point in writing about my tendency to focus on the most specific things is to let people know that it’s okay to daydream. When I was growing up, daydreaming was presented to me as something to avoid in order to focus on more important things. But thinking of imaginary scenarios and focusing on getting your work done are two actions that can coexist. In fact, I actually can’t focus on things unless I allow time in my schedule to focus on whatever is catching my eye that day. But there is a fine line, and it’s taken me years of practice to be able to switch between the two sides seamlessly. 

Whether it be imagining hypothetical situations or working out, lean into it. Give yourself time to do what you want. Life is stressful with the pressures that come with simply just existing in this world. You deserve time to dedicate yourself to something with no judgment, no matter how specific it may be, especially if it ultimately helps your mental wellbeing at the end of the day. Do it for you and you only.

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