How Fingernails Become Childhood Metaphors

I’ve read somewhere that it takes 28 days to make something a habit. Moreover, I’ve heard that it takes way more than that to break a habit.

My guilty habit then was nail biting. Nail bite here, nail bite there, nail bite everywhere. My nails seldom grew long—although I’ve always wanted to have long ones. It was difficult breaking that habit; it was like second nature to me. Like I couldn’t live without the hardness of my teeth competing with the hardness of my nails.

Nervous? Nail bite. Bored? Nail bite. No nail cutter? Nail bite.

That was my life.

I reached high school while still nail biting. It was just hard to part ways with it. One, two, three four years of abiding to a golden rule in school: “Always be neat and tidy.” (But I still nail bit, instead of using the darn nail cutter which always ended up some place lost.)

Then I graduated, and entered UP.


I can color my hair violet and not one professor would tell me, “Your hair is astonishingly outrageous,” or anything. They wouldn’t give a damn. I can wear anything I want—even pajamas if I had the guts. If.

I can grow my nails long without prying eyes eager to cut them by just staring.

So, they grew long. They were beautiful; the kind of beautiful you’d want to look at for so long:  “Is this the real life?” And I maintained having long nails.

I wasn’t nail biting anymore. Well, I still do, occasionally.

And as I’ve nail bitten last night, I realized nail biting is more than nail biting to me. It is a metaphor of the child I’ve been. An embodiment of the past I’ve somehow left behind when I stopped nail biting.

Now that some of my nails are short again, there’s this sensation of premature loss prickling at the area that was used to be covered by the tips of the nails. As I feel it right now, I am a child again. Wanting the old, displaced desires I used to want, I am a child again. Running around in my little framework, I am a child again.

Loving with all my heart, I am a child again.


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