When I’m tired I no longer have the energy to care what people think. I no longer have the mental bandwidth to process what’s going on around me or read the unspoken meaning behind what people say. The feedback loop I rely on has stopped working and I lose the ability to modify my behaviour to make others feel comfortable. In short, when I’m tired people get offended by me.
It turns out when I let my guard down my natural state is one that many people find inappropriate at best and horribly offensive at worst. Not that long ago I went travelling with a few friends. One night, toward the end of the trip, I was absolutely exhausted. My ability to be alert and interact was severely reduced. We finally arrived at the hotel and then all went out to find some dinner.
I was actually really happy, really peaceful. We’d had a great day, just an exhausting day. It was obvious to the group that I was very tired. I was only participating minimally in conversation, speaking up only if something particularly interested me, or if there was a question asked of me. On top of that I was doing things like putting my head down on the table and closing my eyes for several seconds at a time. I was asked if I wanted to go back to the accommodation. I responded immediately and effortlessly, eyes still closed, head still resting on my arm sprawled across the table, “but then I wouldn’t be with you guys”. I missed the hidden meaning. The question had nothing to do with concern for what I wanted.
Then it happened. We were at the restaurant. We’d just ordered food but it hadn’t come out yet. I thought everything was ok and I’m peacefully lying on the table when one of our group suddenly exploded. The next thing you know I’m being shouted at from across the table. I was shocked, stunned, speechless. Where did THAT come from?! She’d clearly been holding it in for some time!
The message was clear. I make her uncomfortable and she thinks I should leave. You can imagine my poor stunned brain trying to make sense of that! My lack of comprehension only made the situation worse. In my bewildered state I said “OK”, and proceeded to calmly clarify what she wanted me to do. “So… I’ll take the key and go back to our accommodation?” I made a classic mistake. I listened to the words of a highly emotional person. She didn’t mean it literally. The words were just an expression of her frustration. She went on to tell me how I was behaving so irrationally and then stormed out. Meanwhile, I’m still sitting there stunned and speechless.
I had no brain power to process all that. So I didn’t. A second or two later I stopped staring at the empty doorway and returned to my exhausted, peaceful state. I turned to my other friend, we ordered a beer, and carried on with dinner as if it never happened. I couldn’t care less what the restaurant staff were thinking, or if people were staring at us. They can do what they like, so long as they don’t bother me about it.
If I had to summarise, when I’m tired I don’t react. Happy, sad, emotional, it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t affect me. I’m already overloaded so it doesn’t sink in. Maybe this is what people find so offensive? How dare I be so callous and uncaring?
I work so hard sometimes. It’s actually a great feeling to have nothing left to give and therefore be forced to take a break. I’m happy and peaceful, and I love to relax enjoying the company of others….
So what’s the problem? The problem is that when I’m tired OTHER people get offended.