The first time my nails weren't too short/thin/mangled to get a manicure was basically a scene from "Pinocchio."
I exclaimed “I'm a real girl!” to a confused manicurist who immediately petted my arms and asked if I wanted them waxed (ugh, she couldn't just let me have my moment).
I am, through and through, a compulsive nail biter. I have been since the day my first tooth sprouted in my little baby gums, and I've stayed staunchly dedicated to the cause ever since.
My mom's efforts to make me stop were tireless, and even shameless at times. (She adamantly denies this, but I swear when I was 5 she painted my whittled nubs with red nail polish and told me it was poison, so I would die if I bit them.)
She took me to the doctor and asked him if I was nervous, but all he could offer her was, “No, she just likes biting her nails.”
She made me sit on my hands while watching TV and wear gloves indoors. She bribed me, and even encouraged my friends to slap my hands if they ever saw one in my mouth.
But, alas, my affinity for nail biting knew no bounds.
If you're not a nail biter, you don't get it – and that's fine. I don't understand other idiosyncrasies innate in others – like grinding your teeth or cracking your neck or, like, squeezing from the middle of the toothpaste bottle.
All of this is to say: I've been sober for six months.
No matter how you choose to quit -- be it with that nasty clear sh*t or through sheer self-control (but, like, how?) -- my trials and tribulations navigating the rocky path to fingernail-hood have shown me there are some definitive perks to ditching the habit.
People no longer think you're deranged.
Because merely looking run-of-the-mill crazy chewing on your own fingers doesn't suffice, people inject motivations and assign you specific mental illnesses.
There is a slew of issues observers can decide you have. You're stressed, anxiety-ridden, racked with indecision, trying to placate all the voices in your head, spiraling into the depths of despair because you can't get those voices to agree on anything!, etc, etc.
At least now if people think I'm crazy, they've had to interact with me first.
You have more ways to socialize.
One of the most common activities girls do together is get their nails done. In the past, I would either politely decline or go and sit at the nail place, taking up valuable space and avoiding eye contact with everyone working there.
Now, I get to catch up with friends while doing something I've already fit into my weekly schedule. Win-win!
There's nothing to be self-conscious about.
To non-nail biters (NNB), your hands are a real sight to behold – in the worst way possible.
Let me see, they exclaim. WOWWWWWW, that's really bad!
I thought mine were bad, they say as they extend a single nail that's slightly shorter than rest.
It's not like I'm not a one-of-a-kind freak -- 45 percent of adolescents are nail biters (I know I'm not an adolescent, that's just the only study I could find to pseudo-back myself up).
During 2014's Knuckle Ring Boom, there was nothing I wanted more than to partake in the trend. Unfortunately, I didn't want to draw attention to my nails and a lot of the designs were pretty much arrows pointing right at my least-favorable assets.
I also used hide my hands in pictures. If I was holding a drink, for example, I would rotate my hand inward and end up looking like a pirate with a hook.
If I was sitting at a table with people, I would scrunch my fingers so my nails were face down, completely eliminating all the plus-sides of having hands in the first place.
Sharing food isn't awkward.
Obviously, nibbled nails aren't the most attractive sight, but some people can be so dramatic.
In food sharing situations, NNBs tend to look at a nail biter's fingers like they're little clumps of mold.
A lot of my NNB friends used to actually grimace if I took one of their chips or french fries. NNBs can be so judgmental.
There's more time to think about other things.
You know how people have positive daily mantras about like, seizing the day or believing in yourself? Mine was: “Do not put your hands in your mouth.”
Every time I got on the subway, my mind would immediately have to switch into mantra mode lest I touch ANY SURFACE and put my hand up to my face. Biting my nails was so ingrained in my nature that if I didn't remind myself not to do it, I would probably end up with germs, fecal matter and WHO THE HELL KNOWS WHAT ELSE NYC IS VILE coursing through my veins.
You look like an adult/more put together.
Aside from the fact that biting your nails too far down hurts (and is continually irritated by typing all day), it also just looks like you don't have your sh*t together.
And honestly, I feel like a princess every time I walk out of the nail place.