Bad habits are hard to break. I’ve had my share of unfortunate habits, including a brief period of hair-sucking in the third grade, but nail biting stayed with me a long time. Nail biting kept me occupied while riding the train to work, waiting in line at the grocery store, watching television. I usually wouldn’t realize I was picking or biting my nails until I was already doing it, and by then I would be too far in and end up biting all ten nails so they were “even.” Because ten chewed-up fingernails are clearly better than one.
Nail biting makes your nails ugly and grosses people out. It’s not a great idea to put your dirty fingers anywhere near your mouth, particularly when you’ve been riding a public escalator, or using public transportation, or otherwise touching things that other people touched. When others see you biting your nails, or see uneven and ugly bitten nails when they shake your hand, your professional outfit and great-looking hair and make-up won’t leave the impression you worked hard to create.
I started noticing my bad habit a lot more when we moved to Chicago. My new [male] boss has beautiful nails. I can’t speak to how he maintains them but they are always clean, shiny, and well-shaped. Because nail biting is often something I did without noticing I was doing it, the shame of being a biter was never enough to inspire change. The shame of having uglier nails than my male employer, however, was pretty powerful stuff.
A few weeks after I started this new job, I had to travel back to DC for work. I was headed to a wedding the following weekend, and met up with a DC-area friend to get mani-pedis and catch up. Because I needed the manicure to last through the upcoming wedding, I got a gel manicure, something I’d heard was great but had never tried. And that’s seriously all it took. The gel manicure was amazing — a beautiful french-tip manicure that lasted for three weeks of compliments and photographs and confidence in meetings. When my nails got a bit too long for my lifestyle, I simply trimmed them and the mani still looked beautiful.
They say it only takes 21 days to form a new habit. A gel manicure lasts for 21 days, or even longer if your nails grow slowly. For me, by the time my manicure was chipping away, I was so in love with having well groomed nails that over the last six weeks I haven’t bitten a single nail. So, there you have it: to stop biting your nails, get a gel manicure and fall in love like I did with beautiful, well groomed fingernails.