I’m tired of being more tired than you


“I am so tired. I only got five hours of sleep last night.”

“No, I am tired. I got two hours, and I’m sick.”

This is one of the many conversations I overheard in the hallway yesterday. Something about the tone of the conversation or the automatic reply of the second person glued the conversation to me, forcing me to analyze and dissect it before I could move on.

The first person merely made a statement, a bit of banal conversation. But, it was too late. The phrase had already triggered a defense mechanism in the second person. Suddenly, they subconsciously felt they had no choice but to attack in response to the perceived verbal spar with a countermove sure to bring their opponent—no longer friendto their knees.

How many times have I heard this before? How many time have I, myself, done this?

I’m not sure when, but at some point between middle school and now, our teenage suffering has turned into a competition. All our personal, inconsequential pain has become a game of who has it worse. Half of the time, I’m unsure if someone is just claiming to be suffering to an outlandish degree just to win this delusional mind-game of one-upping.

What are we even competing for?

We are so caught up in ourselves and our individual problems that we neglect those around us. These days, it seems to be every person for themselves. We’ve become starved of sympathy. We hunger for it so desperately that every shred of sympathy is scarce. Any sliver we get, we push for more. Sympathy has become a drug that society is now addicted to.

Our problems don’t need validation from others. It shouldn’t matter to me that you think that I am struggling, that you think I am persevering. We are all just doing our best. Nobody has the “perfect life,” despite their social media or how they look. You can’t look at someone and immediately know what kind of hardships they have weathered.

Furthermore, in that regard, mental struggles are just as real as physical ones. For example, there are two kinds of tired. There is physical exhaustion, a suffering that causes lethargy and droopy eyelids. But, there is also exhaustion of the soul, a suffering that causes an unshakable weariness, no matter how many hours you sleep. One isn’t worse or better than the other.

You can’t compare your struggles to someone else’s. You can’t say that yours are more important or harder to deal with than someone else’s. There’s no scale, no rubric you can set them on. We don’t need to diminish what our peers are going through in order to make ourselves and our problems more important.

I’m tired of being more tired than you.