I hate that feeling of being tired. I like to do stuff — actually, I don’t always like to do stuff so much as I have stuff I have to do, and I like to get stuff done — but sometimes I am just tired. That’s not the worst thing at night, when I probably should have gone to sleep hours before anyway, but in the morning is a different story. When I’ve spent all of my adrenaline on getting ready and getting to wherever I have to go that day, and then sit down and realize that I am still tired, it’s a problem. (I need to get more sleep. Yes, I know. That’s not my point.)

What makes that fatigue so awkward, though, is when I have conversations with people, or I’m sitting in a church service or meeting, and I am willing myself to stay awake… and then I open my eyes. Oh sure, I’ve heard everything that’s been said (and I will never admit otherwise), and I think I have a response coming, but I didn’t quite notice that my eyes weren’t already open. And that can turn into the most dreaded moment of all: that weird moment when I open my eyes and realize I’m looking directly into the eyes of the person talking to me.

If you’ve ever been in that awkward situation, then you know how it goes. It takes a split second when you open your eyes for your brain to make sense of where you are and what you’re doing. And when you’re opening your eyes involuntarily (because the last thing you remember they were already open), that disorientation lasts just a little longer. So imagine opening your eyes involuntarily only to meet the gaze of the person to whom you’ve been listening.

That’s embarrassing, right? It’s difficult not to look startled initially, and then not to look a little guilty right after that. But those expressions are dead giveaways that yes, you were indeed half asleep — something you never actually want to admit if you can help it. Let the person you’re talking to call you out first — then it’s on them to prove it. Unfortunately, if you’re too tired to defend yourself, then they’ve already won that mental battle. You just focus on winning the battle against that next impromptu nap.

Pretty much the only saving grace at that moment is that you’re probably too tired to care to much until you get some sleep. Or some caffeine or sugar.