Written on September 15th, 2016
I have a bad habit of picking at the skin around my fingers. An undesirable response to both anxiety and boredom, I can easily pull at a hangnail throughout an entire lecture without thinking twice about it.
It’s been pretty embarrassing over the years to have fingers covered in bandaids or showing raw skin. It used to be that whenever someone asked “what did you do to your finger?” I’d feel compelled to make up some excuse, like burning it on my hair straightener or getting a paper cut. I didn’t want people to know that it was something I was doing to myself; I felt weird, gross, and awkward. (A valid question is why I don’t just kick the habit once and for all… but that’s a topic for another reflection).
As I got older and realized the importance of openly owning my mistakes and flaws, I started answering honestly. Instead of sheepishly lying about my shutting my finger in a door, I would just say “oh, I have a bad habit of picking at my fingernails,” like it was no big deal. After all, it really isn’t – there are far worse things in which I could engage.
Every time I own this part of myself, I feel stronger. I feel capable. It’s such a little thing, but I feel overwhelmingly that if I’m willing to present my quirks in an honest way, they become less of an elephant in the room and more of a piece of everyday information. I’ve come to believe that attempting to hide parts of yourself only makes them more evident; the awkwardness of someone knowing you’re lying is far worse than the slightly weird look you might get if you tell the truth. Sure, I’m not proud of all of my bad habits – but I do feel proud when I take responsibility for them.
My journey to overcoming my insecurities has been strongly rooted in this idea of self-ownership. I touched on this in another piece, but the idea is worth reiterating: I don’t have to justify myself to anyone. I don’t have to explain every last part of my being. I find immense value in explaining my actions and thought processes, but even so, I don’t feel that I have to. If I don’t want to make the world understand why I pick at my fingers, I don’t need to. If I don’t want to explain why I’m so insecure, I don’t need to. My feelings, emotions, and qualities are valid – whether I justify them to the world or not.
I’ve become immensely more confident in the past years as I’ve processed the concept of owning my life. The truth is that I am flawed and broken and a million other awful things, but I don’t owe anyone an explanation for these traits. I absolutely owe myself the effort to continuously improve – but I don’t owe the people around me a justification for why improvement is still needed.
Countless experiences have molded me into who I am today and countless experiences will continue to do so. I am capable of taking control of my path in life, of changing the things I don’t like, of becoming a better person each and every day. But in order to be someone greater in the future, I have to first take ownership of who I am right now.