It’s not “life” that is so exhausting but your life that is exhausting. Ask yourself that question — who else is going to know something like that?
Reading between the lines, now. This is a common question in our world today and I personally think it all the time. I’ll use myself as an example because I know myself best.
I had asked myself this question today even before sitting down at the computer, as like most days. Why? In my case, I have, as of yesterday, picked up three new shifts at work to make sure I can make a payment on medical bills I’ll be paying for a long while yet. I have also chosen to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo and have challenged myself to begin and finish writing a novel of no less than 60,000 words in a month (I chose to go 10,000 words higher than the suggested total because I hit 70,000 last time). I also have a little blog I had been keeping but have for the past two weeks been completely neglecting and that weighs on me as it feels like a responsibility of mine that I am failing on, though it is my choice alone to keep the blog in the first place. My partner teaches at the University in town, runs the speech team, and frequently leaves for weekends or a whole week as is the case now. My partner’s worries and concerns, which are many, weigh on me also, as I feel responsible for helping to carry them. I just ordered a book I promised myself I would read this week and I haven’t touched it, as much as I want to. I have laundry and dishes to do, seemingly all the time. I need to organize my desk. The nature of my job is to run about and try to squeeze every ounce of efficiency and productivity while smiling all the time despite the occasional rude, demanding, difficult, or simply horrid customers, who tend to look down on me as lesser even if they are the nicer more cooperative ones, unless I am, instead, standing around for an hour and a half waiting for all of it to happen on the slower days when business just might not happen at all for no comprehensible reason. It weighs on me that I never finished school after, five years ago, I lost my job, a relationship, and my home, and then had to move near family, a few of whom I refuse to speak to or vice versa, and now for some reason have no inclination to go back. Why would I not want to go back? I feel bad about this one, all the time. One of my meds had caused me to lose weight and at ~120 pounds I really can’t afford that and that really concerns me (though I am making progress somehow). I have been neglecting a project on a video game I play and that has been weighing on me also.
This all has just been an example, and the list could go on. My point: none of this needs to be the case. Not a bit of it. If I were living, say 100,000 years ago, living as a hunter-gatherer or whatever, I’d have some personal struggles and they might be quite significant, but I wouldn’t have so many responsibilities weighing on me, and I wouldn’t be inclined to constantly remind myself of what they are as I do, often necessarily because of the restrictions of time and everyday, constant demands placed upon memory and attention. I would, 100,000 years ago, be afraid of snakes, I would be afraid of hyenas, I would be conscious of illness and accompanying struggles, and the hazards of the weather. I would not be worrying about any of these things, I would not feel the need to have anything done by any given time, of which I would have a completely different sort of concept, and almost nothing would feel like a disaster if it didn’t happen, certainly not in quite the way we would feel it now.
You’re probably tired because you have the weight of a civilization obsessed with efficiency, productivity, and guilt upon your shoulders. In this civilization, for example, you must perform the impossible task of building an identity that is authentically you — see the contradiction — so people who don’t know you can pretend to understand you. Every single part of that is stressful as some instinctive part of you doesn’t like strangers for obvious reasons, and it is insulting on some levels for people to act as though they understand you when they obviously don’t, yet, in this civilization, you must act as though that’s normal. Do you see the drama of such a simple act as choosing which hat to wear? Decades, even centuries of associations to wade through and wrestle with just when it comes to introducing yourself — your religion, your political beliefs, your relationship status, past relationship statuses, philosophical perspectives, not to mention race, gender, sexuality, age, etc. (also, how well you play out the expectations of your race, gender, sexuality, age, etc.) — for which you will be judged immediately and endlessly forever after. You may forget this, but it will be the case regardless. It’s what we call “getting to know each other”.
You have the game that is money constantly pressing upon you no matter who you are or how much of it you have. You are judged for being either prudish or loose with your sexuality in a heavily ambivalent environment on the subject — all of the centuries of evolving expectations fighting against instinct. The fight against instinct — against who you truly are — does not stop, ever, nor does the guilt of failing to prevail against yourself, whether the subject be food, meeting social norms, speaking properly (you’d be ashamed if you weren’t literate or far less articulate than someone else, wouldn’t you?), sex (some people are taught to be more ashamed of masturbating than — notice the punch of the word!), your attention span (perhaps you hear parents shouting at children to quiet down and pay attention — because they are “bad” for not paying attention and will always remember this), or what-have-you. The list goes on and on.
We’ve been at this for far more than 6000 years and it is all on your head to act out and act out properly. No one can escape from this, not even the “hippie” types who pride themselves on being carefree and authentically themselves — if so, how is it that they are playing the role of “hippie”? The dreadlocks didn’t happen on their own, nor did their clothes or the pot, and do you think they then don’t feel the pressure to some degree to be a good sort of “hippie”, the most authentic of the bunch, not a “poser”, but truly, truly genuine?
You have to work. You have to be a cog in the machine. It’s how our particular civilization is run, so enamored it is with the ideal of the machine and as we have been for the past three hundred years or so, and possibly longer. That is the number one reason you are so tired, as I tried to illustrate in my own example. You have to be efficient and productive, no matter how contradictory that is to your true nature as a creature akin to a gorilla or bonobo, whose species is capable of giving rise to the Buddha.
You’re exhausted because you are stuck within a mode of living in which one must work and in which to make anything better must work harder — what you accomplish is irrelevant, apparently, only the working — and if one wants to escape the mess, escape the utter purposelessness of running about inside of a mouse wheel, one must work yet harder, endlessly, always, forever, consequence oriented to an insane degree yet wholly lacking any sort of purpose or telos.
You’re exhausted because you are expected to do dozens of impossible things every day and then shamed by them, by yourself, as you have been raised up to possess above all the skill shaming yourself, blaming yourself, and guilting yourself as the remnants of old culture-spanning doctrines, such as the doctrine of original sin and the existence of Hell and the like continue to direct us subconsciously if only for lack of an alternative within our means of functioning. For example, we still operate with the Biblical notion of time: everything began, everything carries forward, a big important event occurs in the middle, and everything follows as a consequence until the end. Every new discovery must somehow be shown to propel us forward or suffer the sins of having been a waste of time. Nothing can merely be interesting, valuable for contemplation or simply for being knowledge itself. The question will always be, “How is this useful?” How can it be technologized? As though every last noetic particle must somehow be capable of being turned into a gadget or gizmo.
The weight of this last part is placed upon you, too, you know. Asked of you:”How is this useful? How can it be used?”
Where do you fit in the glorious machine run on impossible notions? And what is the best way to discard you for scraps if you don’t end up fitting anywhere?
You better run if you want to live. You better play those games.
That is why you are so exhausted.
[originally intended to be an answer to a question on Quora]