So often I shy away from experiences I haven’t tried before. It’s probably partly as a result of my extreme introversion, in addition to my overarching fear of failure, but I also just love routine and the security of knowing what the outcome will be in any situation.
I’m currently reading Quiet by Susan Cain, in which she writes about ‘the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.’ According to Cain, as an introvert, I have a high reactive amygdala (emotional brain!), and apparently the more reactive it is, ‘the more jangled [I’m] likely to feel when [I] confront something new and stimulating.’
So, there’s no avoiding it, it’s in my nature.
So far, my relationship with spontaneity has been fairly non-existent. I flirted with it briefly, but all trace of this was soon ruined by too much planning. I set aside a day to be spontaneous, but ensured it was well within a strict set of parameters like – as long as I was warm enough, within walking distance of food and bathroom facilities at all times, had slept well the night before, was suitably dressed for all weather eventualities, was able to get home easily etc etc. What can I say? I’m practical!
You’re probably wondering where I get my enjoyment from if I only do things that are predictable and controlled (two words that have never let me down). Well, I guess I get satisfaction from that feeling that I have done something better than I had planned. And that’s not to say I set low expectations just so I can supersede them. On the contrary I am an extreme optimist and quite a perfectionist. What it means is that I am almost always content, but on occasion, if something genuinely exceeds my expectations, I am positively ecstatic.
What’s this got to do with nailart you may be asking?
Well, this week I entertained the idea of a date with a challenge that was most definitely out of my league and certainly outside my comfort zone. I don’t really know what compelled me to do it. I knew I was probably taking on too much, but I had recently reached the ‘positively ecstatic’ state following a recent floral venture, and as a result, was feeling deceptively overconfident.
This challenging design combined ombre (which thankfully I had done before, see Ombre Seaside Nailart Tutorial) with extremely fine detail.
Obviously, like any good planner, I thought through the implications of it not working out first. What would be the worst-case scenario?
The first course – the ombre might be a complete disaster and I would have to build the rest of the design on unsatisfactory foundations, or mortifyingly, just call it a day there.
The second course – the fine detailed overlay might be terrible and ruin whatever progress I’d made during the first course. This really would be discouraging and I would have to go away and start again, which would make the whole thing a complete waste of time.
But, if I succeeded, I thought, if I made it to desert, then having pushed myself to the next level of nailart, I would be able to take on other intimidating designs with confidence.
Going through these outcomes one by one, I realized that death from failure wasn’t one of them, so I went for it.
You’ll be pleased to know the ombre seemed to work so I stuck around for the detailed overlay. It was all going so well until I put the top coat on and streaked black across the background – the social equivalent of snapping your stiletto heel and limping your way through the remainder of an evening. I was pretty gutted as it meant it was far from perfect. But, no one seemed to mind and I actually learnt a lot from the experience.
The following day, my good friend from University, Lina, came over for a manicure. Admirably she is running the San Francisco Marathon this weekend and wanted some suitable nailart for the event.
Having accomplished an ombre and fine detail design less than 24 hours before, I suggested something similar for her without even a moment’s hesitation, but this time with a running man on a sunset backdrop interspersed with American flags.
The borders of my comfort zone had been expanded thanks to the previous day’s near success and now there was no holding me back.
Wonderfully, it was even better the second time round.
So, what’s all this taught me?
Well, I can’t say I will be running a Marathon any time soon, but I certainly feel more open to venturing across the perimeters of my little comfort zone … at least every so often. In fact, this experience has actually changed my feelings towards daunting challenges and convinced me to give almost everything a go once, even if it’s only so I can learn from my mistakes. After all, the world is not going to end if I fail.
ROMANTIC SUNSET NAILART TUTORIAL
For the Romantic Sunset design, in addition to your base and top coat, you will need a light blue nail varnish, a light pink, a dark pink, a white and a black nail varnish. It also requires a make up sponge and some fine acrylic brushes.
I used Dreamer by Revlon, Pink Friday by OPI, and Fuscia Fever, White on White and Knockout all by Revlon.
- Start by painting your base coat, followed by two coats of white varnish. This will make the colours of your sunset more dynamic.
- Paint stripes of your light blue, light pink and dark pink on the sponge so that they overlap.
- Check which way the sponge needs to be in order to get the right colour direction on your nails and then sponge away. You will need to top up your stripes of paint for every other nail and you will also need to do three coats of your sponging. Clean up around the edges using a slanted brush dipped in nail varnish remover. You can also minimize clean up by placing sellotape or Vaseline around your nails first.
- Next, using your fine acrylic brush dipped in white nail varnish, paint a large circle on each of your ring fingers and blot the inside of the circle with the brush to make a shadowy moon shape. Then place tiny white dots at random on each of your fingers for faint stars in the sky. Finally, taking your brush and dipping it in black nail varnish, carefully paint on the silhouette designs you would like and then seal with your top coat.
Perhaps you’re also keen to take on a nailart challenge. If you’re not sure about either of these designs and prefer instead a simpler version of a silhouette on a gradient background why not try this? It’s one I did a while ago before I had any tiny acrylic brushes.
Give it a go. You may just surprise yourself.