I noticed it as I was running out the door to present at the 5th Annual Women in Business Summit. Late as usual, I was grabbing papers off the printer, hoisting my laptop bag over my shoulder, and stuffing a package of index cards into my already packed purse.
What I noticed were my hands. More specifically, my nails. I forgot to do my nails.
There is an unwritten rule that women should always come across as pulled together. Manicured nails, heels without a trace of mud or dirt, lipstick that never fades. Like an abstract painting, despite the chaos evident within the framework of our lives we should inevitably be balanced in composition, space, and color.
But although I instinctively know that it has been talent, hard work, and perseverance that got me to this point in life I still have a little voice in my head that reprimands me if my nails are naked. Me, who has topless bathed in Australia with hardly a blush, must have had some adverse experience in my past that has me thinking that lack of nail color equates to lack of confidence, that not sporting a layer of clear gloss deems me inadequate. Manicures are one of those "should dos" in life that often don't make it on my to do list. And for good reason.
I'm a writer. My nails pound a keyboard all day. I'm a mother. I yank staples out of school papers among other things. When I get a manicure, I discover that I walk around with my hands raised slightly in the air, maneuvering around objects that might cause a divet or a chip. I don't get things done. I can't. I'll ruin my nails.
I am forced to sit still while someone soaks, files, buffs, and paints. Sometimes that is a nice treat, for instance when the manicure is a gift or is done hours before a special occassion. However, when it comes to painting my nails as part of my day-to-day life, I have a hard time getting past the fact that I must invest time into something that has no permanence. Like a new car depreciates the minute you drive it off the lot, my manicure depreciates the moment I accidentally tap my fingers on the glass as I open the door to leave the salon.
As far as the women's event goes, the day was a success. My presentation went well. I don't know if anyone noticed my nails were not done. I don't think that fact distracted anyone from listening to me speak. Splitting cuticles and all, I got up and delivered.
I sit back and type this blog post, crossing my legs on the coffee table in front of me. I look down and notice my feet. More specifically, my toes. Pedicures? Now that's a different story.