Small victories

by mckennabailey

So, it’s Saturday evening and I’ve been in bed all day. Apparently my body needed sleep because every time I tried to get out of bed today, I  fell asleep instead. But, I’ve made a deal with  myself to post on here regularly, so here are my thoughts from bed.

I’ve bit my nails since I was in high school. I can’t remember why I started but I don’t think it’s a nervous habit for me. If I’m honest, it probably started because I was bored in class.

It was an easy excuse too, having short nails, because I never wanted to paint them or keep them up. I’m no good with brushes that small and it gets too expensive to visit the salon every few weeks. But recently, just as randomly as when I started biting my nails, I decided it was more than a little gross. So I stopped. Literally kicked a 10 year habit in one afternoon because I decided to.

Stubborn behavior has always been a quiet undertone of my personality. It comes out most commonly in competitive behavior and sometimes in moral resolve but I don’t know if anyone who isn’t particularly close to me would call me stubborn. And when people don’t call you something on a regular basis, it’s hard to think of yourself as that thing. So I never knew how stubborn I was until this moment.

What I’m struggling with is the why stubbornness won’t translate into dedication in some aspects of my life. Not biting my nails isn’t something I worked on, it is a choice I made. I told myself I wasn’t going to do it so I didn’t – that just makes sense to me. But I tell myself a lot of other things that never pan out in the same way. I tell myself I’m going to stop eating processed foods and start working out every day. Or I’m going to spend more time reading and less time checking social media, but I still only get two books a month read. And I’m beginning wonder if it’s because not doing something is easier than doing something. Like if I were at a restaurant, I can choose to skip dessert with no problem, but I don’t order the grilled chicken and broccoli dish as easily.

The other caveat that hangs on my success as a reformed nail biter is that the results come easy. If you don’t bite your nails for two days you will have longer nails – the difference is immediate and simple. Other things, though, (healthy eating, exercise routines, , learning an instrument) –  require practice and consistent repetition. The wait time before you start to see results is also exponentially higher. And those two factors (deciding to do hard things and waiting a long time for results) have huge impacts on whether or not I think I’ll succeed at any new behavior or skill.

On top of all these things,  I’m used to being good at things – mostly because I don’t want to disappoint people so I work hard, but also because I only attempt things in which I know I’ll succeed. And I imagine that’s stopping me from a lot of successes. But watching my nails grow, as stupid as it sounds, is helping me internalize the difference between wanting to the be best and needing to be the best. One is dedication and a little bit of hard headedness, and the other is fear and cowardliness.. And I have too many things I want to do in life to be driven by fear.

So I’m going to allow myself to use the small victories to fuel the big victories and not talk myself out of my successes. There may be a vast difference between not biting your nails and living a healthy lifestyle, but the mindset doesn’t have to be different. If I can do one, I can do the other. And if nothing else, I can certainly get out of my own way, and let myself try.

I don’t know if this will be helpful for anyone else who might read this, but it’s something that I needed to say – especially to myself. You got this.

Thank you for coming. I’ll be back tomorrow. Be safe.