“You look tired.”
“Don’t you get enough sleep?”
“It’s rude to yawn while I am speaking.”
“What’s with you? Why are you always so tired?”
“Can’t you stay up late just one night?”
That is me.
I am tired.
I have been tired my entire life.
As a young girl, I thought about sleeping while I was at school. I couldn’t wait to go to sleep at night. There was never a time, up to and including now, that I didn’t fall asleep during movies. Or bow out of parties because they were too late at night for me. When I was 11 or 12, my parents would leave me and a girlfriend to babysit my six-years-younger sister. Mom and Dad would come home later in the evening to me fast asleep on the couch and my sister and my friend happily playing together. In college, I may have pulled an all-nighter or two, but likely out of procrastination-induced necessity, not by the thrill of staying up all night until the morning. And I always felt awful for days after.
Is it a physical symptom? Is it all in my head? Am I just a tired or “low energy” person? Is it really normal and I want more that doesn’t really exist?
For many years, I assumed that tired was the default, the norm, something I had to live with. That this is how it was for everyone, and certainly for me.
But it isn’t. It shouldn’t be.
I am tired.
Is tired who I am?
Even after eight hours of sleep, I feel tired. Some days, I wake up thinking about more sleep and when I might get it.
I have gone through the first 40 years of my life on a mad dash, perhaps trying to prove that even tired, I am more, better, faster than non-tireds. I managed to get two Ivy League Degrees under my belt, give birth twice in the span of 22 months, start and build my own business after being laid off from what I thought was the best job I’d ever have, get through a divorce, financially support myself and lose my mother and grandmother (not necessarily in that order!) with nary a day off.
I never stopped.
Ha, tired, I’ll show you!
All the while, I have been yawning, daydreaming of sleep, wondering what it felt like to be rested and envying people who seem so freakin’ energized all the time.
“Suck it up.”
“Oh, let me guess, you have one of those thyroid conditions.” (As a matter of fact, yes, yes I do. Thanks so much for “getting” me. Not.)
Maybe, just maybe this is not the kind of tired that sleep can make better. Maybe something else is making me tired, something besides that pesky thy-what. (Because, let’s face it: That magic thy-what pill doesn’t really make me any less tired.)
Coffee never helped, nor did the occasional energy drink (and now that I have cut out caffeine and sugar from my life, neither is really an option anyway). I now eat healthier, and pay more attention to what I put in my body. I don’t drink or smoke.
But, I’m still tired. And some days it just doesn’t seem fair.
I once had a boss who was a retired general from the Israeli Army. A tough guy, to say the least. He stopped a staff meeting to focus on me and my yawning. In front of everyone on the staff, he told me how rude and disruptive my yawning during his talking was. How it distracted him to no end and thus ended up hurting all of us.
Nicer, more well-meaning people have their own suggestions for me:
“Can’t you just get some more sleep?”
(Ah, yes, why did I not think of that? )
I am tired.
If you are reading this, maybe you are, too. Or maybe you are wondering why I can’t get enough sleep.
Whatever it is, tired is not who I am. I was not put on this earth to be tired. To feel glimpses of true not-tiredness and wonder how that can be mine. Some days, I want to give in and let tired win. Other days, I know there is more to me, and more to this story, than just tired.
I am tired. Of being tired.