One of the habits I’ve built for my new self is keeping my nails painted. “Gee Lauren, that’s so shocking and revolutionary… why on earth are you telling me this?” you are probably thinking.
The short answer is, I am stalling so I can tell you about more exciting things in the next few weeks. The longer answer is the following blog post, because I feel compelled to write about something.
For most of my life, I’ve made a horrible (insert long standing gender roles here) woman. I hated the color pink. I didn’t know how to wear makeup in that magical land between “what makeup?” and Mississippi hooker. I (still) can’t walk in heels to save my life, and felt more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt than anything else. Despite all of this, by god – I knew I how to paint my nails.
It has taken some time for me to realize that things like clothes, hair and makeup have nothing to do with being womenly or not and instead everything to do with taking care of yourself. I have spent the better part of the past two and a half years trying to make Tim happy, keep Simon sound and successful, my friends mentally stable and my dogs from biting each other’s faces. When it comes to doting on others, I give myself a A-. When it comes to self-care, I get a D+… on a good day.
That started to change when I took a “fake it till you make it” attitude on hair/clothes/makeup to help my suffering self image. Each time I applied some quick blush or stepped into a nice pair of shoes for work, the more my habits started to reinforce themselves. It turned into this happy little chain of events, tied together with strands of pearls and eyeliner. The more attractive I looked, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more time I took to keep up these habits. Even more recently I’ve begun walking a lot more and eating healthier… we’ll pretend this has everything to do with a change in psyche and nothing to do with weeks of day drinking and eating my feelings during the holidays.
But we were talking about painting my nails, weren’t we?
That was the first and easiest habit for me to pick up and maintain in this transformation of self care. Every four to six days, I settle down and tend to my paws before bed. The steps are the same every time. It feels methodical and easy.
I’ve realized the colors I pick are a bit of a mood ring. Whatever color I choose at the time sends a message out to those who pay attention.
- Dark reds and burgundies say “I’m a powerful business woman. I do adult shit all the time, like buy my own mother fucking house. I am mature and stately, to be respected. These nails look excellent as I hold a drink from Starbucks.”
- Bright colors like sky blue and tangerine orange mean, “I’m flirty and fun! So light hearted and care free… I have no one to answer to right now and that’s amazing! We should go to the beach or something. These nails look amazing when I hold a martini.”
- Dark purples and black send a strong message. “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life, but I’m mysterious as damnit. These nails look amazing when I hold a cigarette.” *
I paint my nails black a lot these days.
* Of course, in a purely literary sense. Of course.
When I was stuck in traffic yesterday, my hands gripping the steering wheel with black nails, I called my friend. She’s probably the person in life I’m most honest with, and has heard the true gamut of crazy from June until now. When she asked me how I was doing, I paused.
“I’m… I’m actually okay I think.”
The light turned green, and I started driving again. I am okay, black nails and all. I mean I have no rational idea what to do with my life and where I’m going in the long term, but that isn’t bothering me much these days. My brain can go from pink to black in a second, but it recovers. Sobbing on my couch isn’t something that undoes me anymore. I dry my eyes, blow my nose and see if there’s any new Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube. Sorrow is here, but it’s fleeting and not overpowering.
My emotions are dark, deep and strong, but they change. I can change them… not entirely unlike doing my nails.