Today I was in an officer training for an organization I’m involved in on campus. One of the officers did not join us for lunch and when the president asked what was wrong, our reply was, “he’s stressed and tired.” Her reply? “I’m stressed and tired too, but here I am.”
After hearing this my body boiled up with anger and tears welled up behind my eyes. I will never understand how we cannot see that people’s tired and stress affects them differently than it may us. I have been in nonstop training, recruitment, and school for a month. Let me share what my tired and stressed looks like.
My tired looks like 5 hours of sleep feeling like 5 minutes. Missed deadlines. Being 5-10 minutes late to class and not even freaking out about it. Putting on make up to hide the bags under my eyes and dressing up to look like I have it together when in reality I just spent the 5 seconds of time I had to breath wondering if my razors were were still stashed in my laptop case from 2 years ago.
My stressed doesn’t look that much different. It’s forgotten homework. It’s reclusing to my room and wanting to share my inner world but constantly reminding myself that if I let it out, I can’t bring it back in. It’s “I’m stressed,” followed by, “I’m fine,” just so that people won’t worry too much but if something happens, they can’t say I didn’t warn them.
And when you combine the tired with the stressed it’s even worse. It’s PTSD flashbacks. It’s me being so stressed and tired that my tired body has turned into a tired soul and I can no longer have the willpower to continue fighting the flashbacks. My tired soul cannot be invigorated by a few hours rest. My soul needs to breath in the beauty of love and serenity. And instead it is stuck trying to explain to you why your bodily tired does not compare to the restlessness of a soul. A soul who has been damaged so many times that when it feels any sort of stress it is triggered to remember the worst stress that it has encountered.
But knowing this would do nothing. Because you don’t understand what a tired soul looks like. All you see is undone work and failed leadership. You will always try to fix those things. But until you allow the tired soul the rest it deserves, nothing else will ever fall into place.