The Manicure that Changed My Whole Perspective of Myself
A month ago, I was spending time with one of my closest friends and some of her family. Her mom wanted to take the gals for manicures. Me? Though my toes still have the chipped evidence of summer polish, I don’t paint my nails.
It wasn’t just that I never painted my nails – I was actively opposed to it. I was bothered by how quickly the color chipped, I didn’t like the idea of polish near whatever I happened to be cooking, and, most of all, nail polish didn’t exist in that realm of the gender spectrum where I felt I lived.
But, you know, what’s a little polish between friends? I went for the sake of being game, and spending some gal time with people I enjoy.
I chose a polish so deeply purple that it showed on my nails as a rich black in most light. At the end, when I looked down at my short, perfectly-shaped, boldly-colored nails, I was surprised to find that I liked how it looked. A lot.
My friend, who knows me well enough that it’s creepy sometimes, saw it, too.
Since then, I’ve bought a couple of bottles of polish, discovering both that it’s not nearly as easy to paint nails neatly as I had expected, and that spending a few more bucks on a bottle means a much more user-friendly brush.
A greater understanding of nail polish application, however, is not nearly the part that most interests me.
See, it seems to me that one of the keys to healthy, lasting relationships is keeping a sense of curiosity and openness to the other person, actively working to challenge the assumption that whoever the person was yesterday is who she or he is today.
As little a thing as nail polish is, it showed me that I was making similar assumptions about myself. I was assuming that just because nail polish didn’t fit into my idea of myself as a woman two months ago meant that it wouldn’t fit into my idea of myself as a woman today.
Those 10 little blobs of blackish-purple showed me that bringing active curiosity to my relationship with myself is just as critical as bringing it to my relationships with others.
Now I’m wondering how to take that realization forward, and deeper.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
Step 1 is developing mindfulness around sussing out assumptions which masquerade so convincingly as facts, Truths.
Step 2 comes when we notice a fact or Truth and pause for a moment to ask, Is this really a fact or is this a story? If it’s a story, could more paragraphs been added while I wasn’t looking?
You know I’m a fan of starting small so we could practice with something less consequential, like food preferences. I’ve been known to say that I like all veggies except green peppers. So, maybe I get a green pepper and give it a go. I might love those crispy, bitter buggers now. I might find that I’d still rather lick a mailbox than eat one. The outcome isn’t important; the curiosity is.
In that way, we can work up to the scarier assumptions, the ones that our gremlin voices feed to us with words that are rigid and definitive.
I can’t do math.
I could never run.
I’ve always been clumsy.
But what would happen if I took an online math class, joined a beginner’s running club, or used moving meditation to be more aware of where my body is at any given moment?
Only one way to find out…