When I sat down at my laptop to start writing this piece, my right thumb was actively bleeding and my left thumb, recently quite raw, was starting to heal. Both injuries were self-inflicted: I’ve been biting my nails and ripping my cuticles since I was a kid.
And despite the immediate, sharp pain or the dull agony afterward (or the potential embarrassment of bleeding all over myself in public—it’s happened!), it’s unlikely I’ll simply just stop biting.
I’ll wrap preventive bandages around my thumbs to guard them, slap my wrist with a rubber band (I do not recommend this) and try lots of other assorted (often ill-advised) ideas for breaking harmful habits...but I’ll continue to struggle.
Unless I paint my nails.
I’ve been here before, you see, and the answer is easy: Just give me a fresh, professional manicure and I’d immediately morph from a nervous nail-biter into my much more polished, pulled-together persona. With gel on my fingertips, I was unstoppable: Wearing some cool, unexpected color (powdery periwinkle, please!), I’d gesture emphatically with my hands while telling a story or making a point.
I’d shell out my cash like clockwork, every two weeks, for a fresh coat of paint that would keep my finger-chomping in check. And I’d act like it’s no big deal when I got a compliment on my hyper sparkly, high-shine cerulean gel nail art—but secretly I was beaming inside because good nails are my thing and I always have a major mani and it doesn’t matter if I’m wearing zero makeup with my hair a total mess because at least a part of me is perfect.
But the truth is that every time I stop polishing my nails, for whatever random reason at the time, I immediately return to the habit that’s haunted me for most of my life.
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