I got my nails done this morning and made the ladies at the salon giggle when I requested a different color for each nail. Because you know what? That’s actually what I wanted, but the little voice in my head telling me to be “more normal” or “more grownup” or “less obnoxious” or whatever was bargaining for florescent pink with a design, or red and sparkly, but please not five different colors. Well screw that voice. Because really, no one is ever too old for rainbow nails.
My friend A calls that voice the “committee of assholes” that lives in your head. That committee that was planted by capitalism and watered by the patriarchy. That committee sucks. I suppose we all have committees like this, telling us that rainbow nails are childish or that singing in the street is forbidden or that finishing a dissertation is impossible. The committee of assholes isn’t going anywhere fast, and I see the committee spring up in all kinds of spaces. I don’t think I can afford to be surprised anymore, when the committee of assholes shows up and whispers hate. I just have to paint my nails like a rainbow, instead.
I knew I could paint my nails whatever color I desired this morning, because my cousin L does it too. She is always texting me pics of her nails with polka dots and alternating colors and little pictures. And I always love it. We should all aspire to be so brave. Little acts that scream, “Me, world! It’s me!” are just all-around necessary if we’re ever to obliterate the committee of assholes. We all need people who can show us how to do things a little bit better, who can show us one option for making our way through life. Sometimes they show us we can wear whatever color nail polish we feel like. Sometimes they show us how to deal with after-cancer. Sometimes they show us how to answer a question that catches us like a deer in headlights.
The committee of assholes is like, “Oh, but your students won’t think you’re professional if you have rainbow nails,” and “So and so will take you less seriously with rainbow nails” and “Pale pink is a much better color for your nails because it’s sophisticated.” You know what? My students should respect me because we are doing critical literacy and stop motion animation, and if so and so doesn’t take me seriously they can get out of my life, and pale pink is not sophisticated it’s infantilizing. So, I’ll go ahead and cover up my chemo-brown-and-breaking nails with bright colors and I’ll love it. As I watch them typing, I can’t help but smile. That means I def got the right colors.
The people who show us how to be in life are the antidote to the committee of assholes. They are the people who reach out and say, “Hey, dude, I was there. I did this. And now I’m doing something else.” They are the people who say “I have no idea what you’re going through, but I’ll show you where I’m going in life.” We’ve all got committees of assholes telling us all kinds of things, tying our hands behind our backs and attempting to obliterate our belief in our selves. I just hope we always also have people showing us how they’re living their lives, in honest, gritty and surprising ways. And I hope we can always show each other how we’re living our lives in ways that are true to the tears, in love with the laughter, and honest about what’s going on all around us.
Who’s painting their nails in five different, brilliant, bright colors today? It’s a pretty awesome dose of sunshine on a cloudy summer day.