How Nail Polish Taught Me to Process

I am at a coffee shop. You know, the artsy, it’s hip-to-be-grunge type hang out.

I go to the ladies room.

Burglar bars. Burglar bars over the window.

What kind of neighborhood is this?

Deteriorated and rusted, I couldn’t tell if these bars were there for safety purposes or some kind of antique flair—or both. Either way, the sighting of these bars didn’t make me feel any safer. But then again, I’ve been in worse conditions in my life, involving much lower safety and restroom ratings.

This would not keep me from later enjoying my dirty almond chai.

I look up at the bars again.

The most recent layer of paint, which has to be about a decade old, was peeling enough to reveal the coat underneath.

This sight took me back to my adolescent years when I was too lazy to deal with the upkeep of my nail polish. Truthfully, I have very little patience when it comes to painting my nails, but love the way it looks too much not to do it. What a conundrum.

When I was younger, instead of removing the old, cracked polish before painting on a fresh new color, I simply painted right over any remaining polish. Eventually, this polish chipped revealing two or three different colors on my preteen fingers. Real cute.

Why did I ever think this was a good idea?

Clearly I was too busy waiting for the dial-up to connect so I could chat with my friends on AIM to ever take care of my nails.

Or maybe I was caring for my Tamagotchi pet.

It’s funny how we grow older and trick ourselves into believing that we handle our adult problems with adult solutions. Truth is, I take care of most of my issues now the same way I took care of my nail polish at 11 years old, only less glitter is involved.

Rather than deal with it, get out the nail polish remover and cotton balls, I just paint right over it with a new color.

Since returning home from the World Race, I have learned the importance of dealing with my stuff and how long I’ve just painted over it rather than process through it.

Processing takes time, discipline, intention.

I don’t wake up in the morning with a flashing light bulb over my head saying, “Eureka! That’s why I feel this way, what a deep-rooted wound!” or “Aha! That prophetic word makes perfect sense to me, I know exactly what to do now.”

Not so much.

The things worth knowing, understanding, and believing— those are the things worth digging around for, worth the time it takes to process. Worth the time it takes to get out the acetone and cotton balls and do some cleaning up before painting on that fresh, new color.


  1. C Buckner · September 4, 2012

    Good thoughts:) and thank you for giving a shout out to the Tamagotchi pets, they’ve been neglected for so long now we’re about to see them on a commercial with Sarah Mclachlan singing in the background

  2. ashleyjhiggins · September 14, 2012

    Love this. Much.
    I also about cried laughing at the buck’s comment. Love you and miss you!!

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