a woman working from home being shielded by her laptop from unkind and unsolicited words

I Know I Look Tired - I Have Insomnia

When COVID-19 changed the world as we knew it, I started working from home like many others worldwide. It was a difficult transition for everyone. I adapted a job meant to be physically present at the office every day to work as a virtual assistant.

One day, as I was making a spreadsheet, a random thought occurred to me. I no longer had people walking past my desk, telling me how tired I looked. As if I never noticed the large dark circles under my eyes every day. Gone were the consistent reminders of my insomnia (I wish we had Zoom options in real life).

Really, what is the point?

What is the purpose of saying this to someone? I could understand if I looked like fresh flowers every morning, and then one day, I came to work looking like I have not slept in months. This would be a reasonable time to show concern. I am assuming follow-up questions would be asked as well.

I look tired because I am tired

However, I always look tired because I am always tired. Anyone who has worked with me for more than a month should realize this is my daily look. Yet, some still feel the need to let me know. Many times, I want to reply, "Thanks, it's my life long insomnia." But there is no need for snark in a professional setting.

However, I am open to suggestions; if anyone has a polite way to request, they no longer ask me. Also, I am open to snark if it does not include my place of employment :).

Unsolicited comments about appearance

Mentioned in passing is how they inform me. Typically, in that person's normal conversational tone. Are you telling me because you think I don't know how I look? Or did you feel the need to comment on someone's appearance that day? Professionally, I am clothed and styled appropriately. Unsolicited body commentary is not appropriate.

Why make this statement in the first place? I find it inappropriate to comment on anyone's appearance unless they specifically ask or you are complimenting a new hairstyle or outfit. Unless you are 100 percent sure someone is trying to lose weight, gain weight, or whatever else, keep it to yourself.

I can assure you I have never approached anyone and asked if my dark circle were still there or if I looked exhausted after the 30-minute nap I was lucky enough to get thanks to a boring podcast I listened to the night before.

It's probably the dark circles

I have very noticeable dark circles under my eyes. It is impossible to calculate the amount of money I have spent on eye creams that do nothing. My dark circles have grown up with me, and I hated them for a long time. In my teenage years, I was ashamed of them. I own them now.

Comfortable in my own skin

They are just as much a part of me as my insomnia. They are a tiny part of my complicated body and a reminder of how I have navigated life's many ups and downs, frequently with little to no sleep. So again, I ask, why? Who benefits from your commentary? It took a long time for me to feel comfortable in my own skin, and I have now decided it's time to find a way to politely let people know negative commentary on a person's looks is never okay.

Put yourself in our shoes

I can't tell you why people say this to me, and I will not assume. But it is unnecessary. What insomnia does to my outward appearance no longer makes me feel bad about myself, but this doesn't mean other people have the same confidence I do.

However, I am asking you to consider the feelings of those with insomnia who may struggle with how it affects them physically.

More kindness, less judgement

We already know, and chances are you aren't the first person to point it out to us. Politely say hello and go about your day. While this may seem insignificant, this is only one of many judgments we face as people with insomnia.

Next time you feel the need to mention a flaw someone has, put yourself in their shoes. One day you will meet someone like me when I am having an off day, and I will be more than happy to mention a small flaw about you to get the point across.

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