The day I stopped biting my nails

Biting your nails is a gross, unhygienic, unbecoming habit for anyone to have. I bit my nails for over 20 years. 20 years!!! When I was growing up, my dad used to tell me that he would sit across from me in the stands at my (endless) basketball games and shout silent, telepathic messages my way - “Stop biting! Stop biting!”

It didn’t work

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I made it through college, then into a high-pressure job in New York, then even into grad school and my late 20s as a full-fledged member of the loathsome nail-biting club. Sure, I had a month here or there where I would get a manicure and trick myself into thinking my nails weren't nails at all; instead, they were colourful little chiclets that had nothing to do with a human nail, so I should ignore them. The problem with chiclets, that fine Mexican chewing gum, however, is that of course eventually you do pop a few into your mouth, which is exactly what I did with my nails.

To tell you the truth though, as much as I hated how my nails looked and how I'm sure I looked while biting them, I never really, in my deepest inner place, cared much that I bit them. I had always put myself into such intense, high pressure situations over the years that I kind of just allowed myself this one little act of stress-relief and escapism.

30 does something to ya

Right around my 30th birthday that all changed. Turning 30 does some weird things to your mind. It makes you step back and reflect, to take inventory of your 20s and the person you’ve become up to this point. I realised, lying in bed a few days after my birthday, that I have a long way to go to become the woman I want to be. The woman I want to be is quietly confident, a brave believer in her own decisions, conscientious and informed about how she takes care of herself. I want the awesome, peaceful feelings I am starting have on the inside to be reflected on my outside. Basically, I realised, this woman I want to be may laugh too hard, stay up too late, and be in a serious relationship with cheese, but she definitely doesn’t bite her nails. Something about this realisation had a profound effect on me and, I kid you not, after 20 years of non-stop nail biting addiction, I woke up one morning and stopped. Nearly a year later, I have not bitten my nails once.

It’s a moving target

It’s crazy how something like breaking a bad habit or choosing to invest in yourself in a new way can completely change your outlook and perspective on yourself. These decisions help get you closer to who you really are, and improve your aim toward that precious moving target of who you want to become.

If you sat alone with your thoughts this weekend and took a look inside, what changes in your life could you make to help you get closer to becoming the person you want to be?

By Renee Parker