Fresh out of college at my first “real” job I had a boss, who seemed at least, to have it all together. Each day she was impeccably dressed. Her car was never dirty. Her lipstick magically appeared freshly applied. And her fingernails were always perfectly painted. It seemed to me like she really had her life together.

It must’ve been at that point that I decided to be able to afford regular manicures was a status symbol that I wanted to attain. It took a while, but I eventually got acrylic nails buffed and polished on a regular basis. They looked good. It made me feel good. I spent a silly amount of money at nail salons, but it made me feel like I had my act together.

Then I quit my good paying job to be a stay at home mom and those manicure trips were on a list on non-essentials that went by the wayside.  Now I was broke, tired, and trying to figure out my new role in life. I did not have my life together. The finger nails were not the only evidence of this I’m certain.

Once my over-filed nails regained their health I tried to convince myself that I liked the natural look. But seriously, my short stubby fingers with minuscule nail beds looked better with some artificial enhancement. Nail polish is among the cheapest forms of retail therapy. Just don’t calculate the per ounce price of the habit, that would be a bit worrisome. But who needs to think about math when OPI offers polish with names like Chick Flick Cherry. One look in my bathroom may indicate I have a polish addiction.

See the thing is, when my nails are done I feel like I have myself together. I don’t of course, but it makes me feel like I’ve got myself pulled together. I realize that my neglected hands are no less worthy of holding or less capable of working. These hands clean, cook, care, type, and create. So while my Bordeaux Glow is chipping off showing chinks in my armor I’m getting stuff done and I guess that’s what really matters.

We all suit up in one form or another I suppose. For some it comes in the form of purchases, it may be a designer handbag, the latest phone, or maybe the most luxurious SUV they can afford. For others, it may be immersing themselves into education or a hobby, something that makes them feel like an expert. Something that makes us feel like we’ve got it all under control. Which is ludicrous of course, because no one thing offers that power, despite what those late-night infomercials would have us believe. All that marketing appeals to our insecurities. The ones we try to hide with shiny things.

I’m here to remind you, the people who matter don’t care about any of that glitzy stuff. They may notice, perhaps even compliment, but they won’t like you any less without all that. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for treating yourself to a manicure or whatever else it is that you enjoy but don’t let it have too much importance in determining how you feel. That has to come from within, no special deal, no free gift, just putting in the work.

So my nails look like crap. Do I wish they looked pretty? Yep. Do I feel a bit naked? Yep. But I know I’ve still got my act together…for the most part anyway.