I Am My Worst Self at the Nail Salon

Window display of a nail salon
Photo: Thomas Winz/Getty Images

I realized recently that my nail tech probably dreads our biweekly meetings as much as I do. Nothing against her, of course — she’s lovely. I’m the problem in this relationship. Even though I’m usually on time and tip the standard 20 percent no matter how unhappy I am with the results, my general disposition during nail appointments is … not great. As much as I love click-clacking away on my laptop with a fresh set of soft-gel extensions, I have always hated getting them done. My hyperactive tendencies definitely play a part in that — I have a hard time sitting still no matter where I am — but there is so much more to unpack, especially since my hatred for the process leads me to unleash my least-evolved, pre-therapy self during every appointment. It’s as though the second I walk through the doors of my local nail salon, I am an impatient, indecisive, timid, and financially delusional 12-year-old.

For me, the problems start at the beginning of every appointment: when it’s time to pick a color and design. No matter how many nail-inspo photos I have saved to my camera roll, I always get flustered while flipping through the ring of options. There is also the fact that the colors never look the same on my nails as they do on the swatches. I have learned over the years that, in order to avoid disappointment, it’s best to play it safe: I opt for the same sheer-pink shade at every appointment. Recently, I was feeling a bit adventurous and decided to go with a vibrant-red hue instead. I realized about halfway through my appointment that the color was way too orange-toned for my liking. Every time I looked down at my nails for the next few weeks, I was instantly annoyed. (Lesson learned: Never stepping out of my comfort zone again.)

If you’re wondering right about now why I didn’t just communicate my feelings to my nail tech in the moment instead of complaining about my manicure to everyone I know for the next 24 hours, you clearly haven’t experienced the heightened level of social anxiety that takes over inside a nail salon. I mean, why would I spend $150 of my hard-earned money to get a fresh dip manicure with nail-tip extensions that I actually like if it means possibly offending (or slightly inconveniencing) the person who worked so hard on it? No, I’m physically incapable of speaking up during a nail appointment. I would rather sit and sit and sit in silence for what feels like forever, on the verge of tears thinking about how much money I’m wasting on a color I don’t even like.

Even when I stick to the sheer-pink shade I know and love, the sitting part gets me every time. Me and my own thoughts stuck together in a quiet room for at least two hours? No thanks! Since the nail-appointment process is not conducive to working on my laptop or mindlessly scrolling on my phone, I try to have a new podcast episode downloaded or a Netflix show queued up beforehand to keep me occupied. Still, the boredom I experience during those few hours is unparalleled (to the point where if I forget my AirPods, I usually run back to my apartment to get them).

I know what you’re thinking: Someone with so much angst and anxiety about nail appointments probably shouldn’t even be allowed inside a nail salon at all. It’s true — I’m a real menace! But luckily for every nail tech in my neighborhood, I recently invested in the Aprés Gel-X Nail Extension Kit so I can do my nails from the comfort of my own home for a fraction of the price.

I Am My Worst Self at the Nail Salon