Willpower, it’s now or never.

Dear sisters,

This year I turned 29. So far, I haven’t found birthdays to be a source of anxiety. In general, getting older is ok with me and my twenties have been pretty great. But next year I will be thirty, and I have an adult job now, and an adult life. But my basic hygiene is about one step above a toddler. I’m the worst at forming habits. I’ve spent most of my twenties flirting with skin care (after years of acne in university), makeup, and hair styling, but nothing has ever stuck. The last two years I have tried to make one new year’s resolution: to quit biting my nails. However, last year was…a bit stressful. A new baby, finishing a master’s thesis, and an international move did not work in my favor. But this is my year.



This is nothing exciting to anyone else, of course, but seeing white on the tips of my nails hasn’t happened in nine years. I quit biting my nails before BD and I got married, by getting manicures every few weeks for six months. Spending money on my nails had the desired effect of me not ruining them. This time I went the more inexpensive route, with Stop n’ Grow (tagline: WILLPOWER IN A BOTTLE), some Burt’s Bees cuticle cream, and clear nail polish. In the mornings I apply the Burt’s Bees lemon butter cuticle cream, which smells amazing, followed by a layer of clear nail polish as needed, and then the nasty willpower in a bottle (which usually goes on at work). I have to admit, I really only used that willpower in a bottle for the first week. It tastes so bitter, and the taste lingers in your mouth for some time afterwards (effective!). I kept forgetting and eating with my hands and then my food experience was ruined. I am almost three weeks in now, and I’m mostly relying on the clear nail polish as a deterrent. My only lapse has been cuticle biting, which is why I am trying to be good about the cuticle cream.

The biggest reason I quit is our open office plan. Working at my computer is a major trigger for my nail biting, and it is not a good look, personally and professionally. It remains to be seen what oral fixation will replace nail biting–candy, or cigarettes? I kid. And the irony is that not nail biting is more expensive than nail biting. I have to go out and buy a file, and nail clippers, and the nail polish, and bitter bite-y stuff. mo’ money, mo’ problems.

In conclusion, please do not look too closely at my hands, because my cuticles are still gross (Mom always said I could just push them back after a shower with the corner of a towel, but I seem to fail at that. I feel sometimes like there is this school of personal grooming that I missed) and my hands are kind of dry and gross from handling concrete at work. Baby steps!



P.S. I have also started washing my face every morning. I know, who am I?! I hardly know myself anymore. But…I still don’t do anything to my hair. And I still mentally high five myself when I have to make an adult phone call and take care of business, like our utilities or medical stuff. I identify with this Hyperbole and Half post deeply. 

10 thoughts on “Willpower, it’s now or never.

  1. Good for you! I LOVE that Hyperbole and a Half post. Willpower in a bottle totally reminds me of bravery in a bottle, when the cowardly lion is given a large bottle of booze by the wizard in The Wiz. I know your stuff is very different. I bit my nails more this spring than I have in awhile and still occasionally do when I’m feeling stressed about something (though I don’t often recognize the stress until I realize I’m biting my nails). I wonder what it is about nerves and fingernails?

    1. I think that nail biting is a kinetic activity – something to do physically while doing something else mentally (especially computer work). I’d like to break that association. I’ve always bit them a lot when doing school work, and now the job that I have is a lot like school work (reports and things).

      1. It is almost always some sort of stress for me, I think. Unless there is something else going on that I’m not recognizing? I lose a lot more nails during show time.

  2. So much yes. I go on stints of successfully not biting my nails…then I restart. I also never learned to push back my cuticles after a shower despite being told by Mom repeatedly! I don’t think that biting my nails is always stress related though–sometimes I’m just bored, or hungry. 🙂
    As for missing out on personal grooming school– I think as kids we were actively discouraged from spending a lot of time on our appearance! Dad always liked natural beauty and told us so frequently. I still find it amazing you guys learned to apply make-up–I’ve always been wary of the stuff.

  3. Oh man, this is such a relevant post Marth. I get all excited about the thought of beauty products and a facewash regimen (I just started using a burt’s bee toner, woah, toner? Who am I, someone fancy?!) but can only afford new things like..once a year. I never pay bills, I always think, “I’m such a strong woman who knows how to do things.” Then Kevin asks me to help him budget and be involved with bills and I’m like, “What is money, how do we do that, just give me a grocery budget and I’ll make great food. Anything else is boring.” If he rebelled and decided I needed to take over the bills I think we’d just lose all our money.

  4. Hey– hope you don’t mind me crashing your blog… I have never, ever heard of pushing back your cuticles with a towel (or doing anything to them ever– I’m not a nail biter, though)… not that my mom is exactly a paragon of beauty school teaching. And on the subject of your dad saying he liked natural beauty… my dad explicitly decided to never make ANY comment on our appearance (good or bad) because “society places too much emphasis on appearance.” Sigh. But I could have stopped being ugly so much sooner!

    1. Karen, thanks for joining our conversations! We welcome every blogcrasher :-). I could totally see my dad saying that too. I like to think that having an ugly phase made me a nicer person.

  5. I thought of you all today as I pushed back the cuticle after my shower! It really does help and takes so little time. Even once a week is enough.

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