I’m fucking tired, can you tell?

When I look at myself more closely in the mirror, my skin is still soft. The dark(er) circles that weigh heavy beneath my bottom eyelashes are almost obscured by the thick, creamy foundation I lathered on this morning. The zit or two around my chin are barely noticeable. I look together, but there are often times when I wish people could truly see how tired I feel after not sleeping.

Consider this a first world problem, because it is. I’m not asking to sprout gray hairs in my ombré or draw a diagonal wrinkle across my face, I just wish that there was a way to show people, without saying it: I’m really tired, can you give me a break this one time? To which my boss would say, “Nina, go get that diagonal wrinkle checked out. It looks pissed off.”

Everyone is very tired. Not just me. If you’re a twenty-something living in Toronto, chances are you’re feeling equally, if not more, exhausted than the average “I’m tired” person. We’re everywhere at the same time, catching streetcars between work, friends, Tinder dates, hobby development and personal hygiene. It’s a full time job keeping up with appearances, and it’s hard to stop moving when there is so much life stuff to do.

We’re driven by our reckless obsession with ourselves—namely, the career we want to have, the quest for the perfect partner and the hope that our hobbies will preserve our stamina. We’re complicated creatures because we thrive off of and consequently suffer from our social interactions, which can cause a great deal of distress when feeling run down or emotionally strained at the end of the day.

We’re all physically and emotionally drained, and artificially fuelled by caffeine and alcohol to keep us from passing out on our keyboards. We push ourselves to see our friends so we can feel like we have a life that goes beyond the title in italics on our business cards. And when we’re not with our friends, we push ourselves even farther to keep up with the side projects we wish we were doing full time, like writing or knitting, even bird watching.

Which is why, unfortunately, people like me have to stop complaining about being tired. Feeling tired is about feeling human. We drive ourselves to the point of obnoxiously loud yawns because we care about the people around us and the future ahead of us. When we’re not drinking coffee or running to catch the next King West streetcar, we’re attending birthday parties, browsing through bookstores or finding fun stuff to go to on the weekends. Even on days when the world seems to be ending and everything bad that could have happened already happened, you’d be surprised how many people still keep up with their day-to-day routine with a big dumb smile on their face. It’s our nature, we move forward.

Most importantly, our faces never truly show the achy feeling we have inside when we know that our bodies are truly tired and need a break. In fact, our face tends to show quite the contrary: that everything in life is fine and even great with a touch of sun from the pretty weather we had this weekend. Maybe your face is even brighter from the new blush you picked out from Shopper’s Drugmart last week and someone will compliment you on how great you look. So next time you’re looking in the mirror and wondering if you really look as tired as you feel, be grateful that you don’t look tired. Because everyone around you is equally tired, and secretly struggling just as much as you are. Nobody sleeps anymore, everyone’s back hurts, and if you’re wondering why your eyes are red, trust that the bottle of red wine you shared with a friend last night was worth every drop and giggle it took to drink. Now take a deep breath, smile and face the world as a very tired, go-happy young adult. You’ve got this.