I have a terrible habit of picking at my cuticles. I often do it without thinking, when I’m meant to be writing or listening in class. I get lost in my thoughts and suddenly I’m bleeding out my fingertips.
I think I’ve always had this habit, or one like it. I’ve had times when I’ve bitten my nails instead or cracked my knuckles incessantly, but it’s always something to do with my hands. I think part of it is instinct—perhaps removing the imperfections in my fingers is brought on by some deep drive to pick out bugs. Since there’s no bugs, I transferred that drive to my cuticles.
However, I’m willing to bet that it’s closer to my strive for perfection. I always try to make things perfect, especially when I’m writing (which is when a large percentage of this picking occurs). If my hands aren’t perfectly smooth, maybe that subconsciously tells me that my writing isn’t perfect either. Of course, the ultimate poetic irony is that I strive so hard for perfection I end up hurting myself instead. I bite my nails to the beds, I nip at the cuticles until they’re raw, I crack and recrack my knuckles until I can’t even feel what’s making the sound. I also do this in my writing. I rewrite and rewrite until I lose all confidence.
Then again, maybe it’s just a habit. A way to procrastinate. Writing this, I’ve been hyper-aware of the amount of times I break writing in the middle of a sentence (or word) to scratch my face or examine my nail beds. I do it without thinking or even making the conscious action to do so, but before I realize it there I am, staring at my hands.
Maybe it’s a way I deal with stress. Maybe it’s a way I cause myself stress.
Mostly, it’s making me wonder what else I do without realizing it. Do I miss important things? Do I put myself on autopilot too much? When I trust myself to work without 100% mental capacity, my body ends up slouching, I end up biting my fingers, I end up daydreaming and bouncing my knee and browsing YouTube when I should be being productive.
Is this me knowing when I need a break to be healthy, or is it me just taking a break to be lazy? What is this autopilot, anyway?
Well, it doesn’t matter much. This whole post was a bigger procrastination than any nail-biting could be! Maybe some things are best left undissected.