Why You Need to Stop Saying I Told You So

itoldyousoThe car was closing in around me. My daughter’s screams from the backseat were ringing in my ears like a boiling tea kettle. I sat in the passenger’s seat helpless, wringing my hands, starring out the window, watching the mile markers endlessly tick by.

My husband and I had ventured out of the house with our one-month-old daughter. We set forth with all the naivete and confidence of new parents, ready to take on the world. I was going stir crazy, but I thought we should stay in. My husband, ever fearless, assured me it would be okay.

Once we got on the interstate the torrent of blood curdling screams began emitting from the backseat. We were stressed, tested and at our wits end. The much-needed journey turned out to be a car ride that felt like an eternity. I sat there holding my head and feeling the words form on my lips “I TOLD YOU SO!”. I let the words fester, eat me up, linger. I let them sink into my soul and make me feel victimized. The suddenly too-small car felt like a cage. I only knew one thing: it wasn’t my fault.

Then I looked over at my husband. He was holding the steering wheel with white knuckles. I watched as his chest rose and fell sporadically as if he was forgetting to breathe. In that moment, I knew it didn’t matter who was right. It didn’t matter who made the decision. I put my hand on his leg and said “I love you” and his grip on the wheel softened. Suddenly the air around us didn’t feel so dense, the cries didn’t seem to be inches from my ears.

Here’s the thing, once a decision is made in a marriage it doesn’t matter who made it. You’re in this together. My husband and I have to make decisions all the time. We weigh the pros and the cons, we talk about what’s best, we offer our thoughts and feelings. In the end, we can only choose one course of action. We go with whatever feels best, whether it’s his idea, my idea or some combination of the two. But when things don’t go according to plan, it can be hard to stay calm.

It’s so easy to say those four words, “I TOLD YOU SO!”. They are simple words that speak volumes. They say I don’t trust your decisions, I’m not on your team, we aren’t in this together. They steal away your spouses confidence in their decisions and make them a passive player in an active marriage. Those words can make your spouse feel alone and unsure. That’s why my husband and I decided not to say it to each other.

Keeping those words from escaping your mouth isn’t always easy. When you’re in the heat of a difficult moment, when nothing seems to be going right, when the car feels too small, it can be easy to say things you don’t mean. When I remember not to say “I TOLD YOU SO!” I remember that my husband is my biggest supporter, my best friend and my team mate. I let the little things go more easily and I empower myself and my husband to make decisions without fear.

We are stronger as a couple and as individuals because we respect each other, our marriage and ourselves. We let mistakes happen. We encourage ourselves to be bold and courageous, even if it means we fail. We help each other through the hard parts of life, being strong when the other can’t. We see our lives as an adventure where we both take responsibility for  the outcomes of our decisions, whether they are good or bad. Together, we’re making memories of mishaps.

I Was a Pregnant Bride for Halloween

1381639_10202958699597508_4366147711342075664_nWe were checking into the hotel on the day of our wedding. The receptionist was highly amused at my costume choice: a pregnant bride. Little did he know, I really got married on Halloween at 7 months pregnant. My wedding was far from the picturesque Pinterest wedding that every Millennial dreams of. It was chaotic, messy and beautiful. We broke all the rules and loved every second of it. We’re really anarchists at heart, fighting against the norms of society one mishap at a time. In fact, one of our favorite quotes says “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.- Albert Camus.”

So, here’s our small act of rebellion as it progressed, minute by minute.

OCTOBER 31, 2014

6:00 AM- My mom calls for an address for the ceremony. We provide her with 1 of 3 that have circulated. We are still asleep.

6:05 AM- We begin getting ready, together. Tom sees me in my dress before the wedding. A black cat walks past our room. (Okay, not really on the black cat, but we kinda play it fast and loose with the old wives tales.)

6:40 AM- We are in route to the location. Tom’s mom calls to let us know they have arrived at Coquina Key. Although this was the agreed upon location, we instruct her to head to the mystery addressed we provided.

7:00 AM- Tom’s mom texts to ask if the wedding is at “a trailer park with a dock like structure.” It is not.

7:10 AM- We call the pastor to alert him of the new location, granted we still aren’t quite sure where that location is.

7:15 AM- My mom calls to let us know she has arrived at the bagel shop by the Walgreens. We have no idea where we are sending people anymore. This all came about after I Googled “Beach in Bradenton” and picked the first address I saw.

7:25 AM- We are passing Holmes Beach and dub it “fart beach” due to the smells. This is shaping up to be  a day we won’t soon forget.

7:30 AM- The entire wedding party (all 8 of us) arrives at the Walgreens parking lot. We discuss just having the wedding there. The pastor meets our parents. He looks concerned. We all head to the beach.

7:40 AM- We arrive at Holmes Beach where we discuss possible backdrops for the ceremony. Choices include a trash can, a sleeping  hobo, a lifeguard station and a towel store complete with all-you-can-eat pancakes. For real.

7:45 AM- We head to the beach for our ceremony where our mother’s get in trouble for not respecting worship. Heathens.

7:46 AM- We find the ceremony is slightly more religious than we anticipated. Giggles emit from our families at random intervals.

7:48 AM- Tom realizes he has his phone and forgot to put it on silent. He begins to giggle. Meanwhile I happily (and obliviously) chomp on gum.

7:53 AM- The pastor says that a woman will be subservient to her husband. Tom shoots an “oh yeah” look at his mom who then laughs. Nick nods feverishly.

7:55 AM- Tom begins his wedding vows. He faces toward the pastor, not my. He is quickly corrected.

7:59 AM- We awkwardly exchange rings. I still have mine on and I’m wearing Tom’s on my thumb to keep it safe. We were not prepared for this.

8:10 AM- We begin taking pictures where it’s revealed that my dress is see-through. I had gotten in the night before in a tw0-day Amazon Prize shipment. Oops.

8:16 AM- We try to have breakfast at the all-you-can-eat pancake place. Things do not go well. You ordered pancakes at a window. This location was vetoed by all in attendance.

8:25 AM- We meet at the local Peach’s where we find two delightful garbage trucks parked outside.

8:27 AM- Our reception begins to spiral out of control when they try to seat us a separate tables. Our party does not relent. No worries, we were seated together.

8:30 AM- Nick sounds far too interested in my cousin, and then goes on to describe my underwear in detail. All in the family, right?

8:32 AM- Breakfast becomes mildly racist…..awkward.

8:35 AM- The conversation turns to alcohol choices. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve found common ground!

9:00 AM- The wedding disbands. Questions are asked about our honeymoon plans. We still aren’t even really sure where our hotel is located. No one looks surprised.

9:30 AM- We head to St. Augustine for our honeymoon.

Reading this, you might think Tom and I are the most unorganized, sloppy individuals ever. The truth is, our hearts were just set on each other. I didn’t picture the way the sun would look rising over the water, or how my dress would blow in the wind. I pictured the way Tom’s eyes would sparkle when he said his vows to me. I pictured the way his hand would feel as we stood there, making our marriage official. I pictured the way his lips would feel as we kissed for the first time as husband and wife.

Big ceremonies are beautiful, and they are perfect for some people. Tom and I feel they are anti-climatic. It’s a big show and then it’s over, leaving you wonder what happens next. When our wedding ended and we were driving to our honeymoon it felt like the beginning of everything. Our lives were ahead of us and anything felt possible. All I felt was our love and the beginning of something amazing. As we join the ranks of married men and women we do so with the knowledge that we didn’t listen to cultural norms. We listened to our hearts, we laughed, we faced the unknown together, but mostly we just embraced the chaos.

5 Lessons on Living a Life Without Regret

no-regretsI’ve always wondered what I would regret on my death bed. Would it be something I said, something I didn’t say? It’s kind of a morbid curiosity, I suppose, but I obsess over the unknown. I’m like a moth to the light. It’s the perfectionist in me.

Since I’m not fond of the unknown, I like to plan. I’m meticulous in my planning, even if it’s something simple like a grocery store trip. So when I can’t really plan something or determine the outcome, I definitely am not excited to do it. I find myself holding back more than I find myself taking risks. What I am coming to realize is those moments where I held back will probably become my regrets.

The other day my husband and I were at the mall. We went to Starbucks and were waiting for his drink when a lady behind us commented on how sweet my husband was being to me. To his credit, this wasn’t a rarity, it’s how he always is. The woman’s name was Judy, and we found out that this this youthful, energetic, fun woman was pushing 73. From the glow on her face and energy in her voice, that was very hard to believe. She had been married 40 years, had no children and was working at a cosmetics counter in Macy’s just to have the chance to interact with people.

In just a few short minutes, here are the 5 life lessons we learned from Judy on living a life without regret.

1. Don’t Second Guess Yourself

Judy and her husband didn’t have children. She told us that was her choice. Even though I have a baby girl, I used to wonder if I’d ever have kids and if I didn’t if I would regret it. I feel this way about a lot of things, whether it’s something I did or something I didn’t do. What I saw in Judy was pure confidence that she had made the right decision in not having children. Although it’s a huge decision she owned it. She chose to spend her life becoming a mother to the people around her and giving back to her community. She didn’t let it become a regret. She made the decision and never second guessed herself.

2. When in Doubt, Push Forward, Don’t Hold Back

The quote from Judy that’s still ringing in my ears is “Take it from me, the only time we’ve had regrets in life is when we’ve held back, not when we’ve pushed forward.” How can you argue with that logic? Whenever we hold back, we always have that disturbing thought, “what if”? When we push forward despite our biggest fears, we’re often met with surprise successes or new opportunities. Even when our best plans fail, we can always take comfort that we tried.

3. Happiness is Your Best Friend

Think about one of your happiest days. Try to remember the way you felt. I know on my happiest days I felt impenetrable. It felt like all my decisions had led me perfectly to that moment and whether they were bad or good, I needed them to get where I was at that exact time. I felt confident in who I was, where I was going and my future. I felt grounded. That feeling permeates Judy’s life. It just exudes from her in the most captivating way. My husband and I had to believe that’s why she’s 72 but looks 40.  How can you have regrets when you’re truly happy in the present?

4. Act in the Moment 

At 72, most people are retired. So why isn’t Judy? She likes to interact with people. When she sees people she wants to talk to she just does it. She doesn’t over think it or hesitate. She sees the opportunity and acts on it. This is a small example in the grand scheme of things, but it can be applied to life as a whole. We need to act in the moment fearlessly. When we see a chance to say yes, we should. After all, don’t we miss 100 percent of the shots we don’t take?

5. Believe Everything Happens for a Reason 

My husband and I were getting coffee. We didn’t have any grand expectations for the outing, but then we met Judy. She smiled and said that everything happens for a reason. From the smallest of happenings to the largest, we would do well to remember this advice. When things go wrong, we can take comfort in the fact that it’s just a small piece of a bigger picture that we can’t see yet. When things go right, we can smile and know that everything is working out just as it should. The more often we can do this, the less regrets we’ll have. We’ll believe in the cosmic good of the universe, we’ll have faith that everything will turn out okay and we’ll know that even our biggest risks will bring us to the best places we’ve ever been. So for the Judy in all of us, let’s live life without regrets. Let’s risk everything for the hope of a better tomorrow. Let’s believe that everything happens for a reason.

When Bad Neighbors Become Bad Habits

A home left in disarray with the door open?!

A home left in disarray with the door open?!

My husband and I don’t have many bad habits, but the ones we do have flirt with the extreme lines of quirky and insane. We’re the worst kind of conspiracy theorists. Creaky gates turn into elaborate ghost stories and passing black cats a debate on the realities of witchcraft. So when my husband and I moved into our apartment, we didn’t know we were meeting the characters that would inadvertently become players in our personal reality TV miniseries.

A neighbor most people would have discarded as pesky and somewhat absurd became a constant source of speculation and entertainment for our nightly walks. It started out with a woman (mom), a man (husband) and two children. They seemed wholly uninteresting. We knew only one thing about them: they lived below us. For the first month of us living at this apartment, we noticed the mom and husband at the pool frequently with the children. They would smoke and drink while the children swam. It was really nothing notable, but we noted it anyway. We saw these same 4 people, a mom, the husband, a daughter and a son coming and going from the apartment. Until one day things drastically changed.

The apartment below us became a point of high interest and confusion. Honestly, it could have all been on MTV. It would have probably been good television. We started to notice anywhere from 3-6 different men coming and going from the apartment during a given week. At first it was strange, then it just started to get bizarre. Was she cheating on her husband? Were we first-hand witnesses to prostitution? An affair? The possibilities were endless. But not nearly as endless as the string of men.

Sometimes there was more than one guy in a day. At night, the flavor of the day would hang by the pool with mom and her children, smoking and drinking. The children’s visits became increasingly sporadic and husband was losing his role as a lead character. The more sporadic the children’s visits became, the more chaotic they became. It was all one downward spiral. A visit from the kids was usually accompanied by loud screaming, crying, door slamming and other atrocities. It was really sad and kind of alarming, especially if you consider it from the child’s point of view. At this point, I think the show might have been canceled, but America just loves watching train wrecks too much and Tom and I aren’t above it either.

Eventually we dubbed this woman single mom, because we came to the startling conclusion that husband was just an extra on the show. Judge us if you will. Her behavior was erratic and usually outrageous. She parked frequently in a handicapped space directly in front of her apartment, even when the space just to the left was open. She returned home in the early morning when we were leaving for work, haggard, carrying coffee, stumbling.

One day, we came home to find her and a flavor of the day laying in a hammock they had strung between the pillars in front of our doors. They were drunkenly taking pictures on that Sunday afternoon. Tom went out the door to get something from his truck and they happily ignored him like they were in some Corona commercial. Dogs of different varieties and even cats came and went from the house. We’d hear random barking and crying for a few days and then it’d be gone again. Cast members didn’t last long on this show. We noticed a “type” emerge from the flavor of the day. He was white, bald, muscular, drove a truck, had tattoos and only stuck around for 3-5 days at the most. Some cast members we recurring, but none were permanent.

We began to surmise that she must have been a call girl or maybe a prostitute. Her habits didn’t indicate any kind of pattern, so we hoped that maybe she was just a waitress, but nothing suggested any kind of gainful employment. The only thing that was consistent was the influx of men and her desire to park in handicap spaces. In fact, our apartment eventually removed the handicap space closest to her door, so we figured that problem was solved. In an unbelievable turn of events, when that space was full she started parking in the handicap space directly across from the old one by the pool. The audacity was outstanding.

The last major character on the show was a man who drove a white Trailblazer who we named boyfriend. He was only dubbed this honorable and rare title after appearing on the miniseries for several weeks. No flavor of the days were detected during this time. Aside from her normal antics, things seemed to settle down. There were random cats, a random pit bull and intermittent visits from the children, but the white Trailblazer was a tried and true constant.

Like the American flag flying in the sky, you could count on boyfriend to be there. His truck hardly moved. He even did the dirty work in the relationship. One morning, around 10 AM, the apartment complex was busy repaving our parking spaces. It was a useless task they will likely later use to increase our rent, but that’s what they were doing. Everyone had obliged to their request to move our cars, as annoying as it was, expect one black Nissan Altima. It was hers.

The workers started banging on doors. When they quizzed me as to the owner of this pesky black Altima, I happily reported the owner by pointing to the door next to mine, wishing them luck. And luck they needed. 20 minutes of banging and then the manager had to come. They banged on windows, they banged on doors, they screamed management. It was enough to rouse everyone else in the building, but single mom and boyfriend were no where to be found. Finally, he appeared from the apartment, half asleep and in pajamas to move the car. Like honestly, what kind of drugs were these people taking?

Like all good things, the single mom saga had to come to an end. Our morbid fascination with the pure chaos and insanity with this woman’s life was left an open book. One night, Tom came inside and said the words I never thought I’d hear: “Single mom is moving.” It was a scene that we could have only come to expect from her. They were moving out at night in nothing less than a hurried fashion. We surmised they might be sneaking out. Our suspicions were confirmed.

Two days later I arrived home from work to find the door of her apartment wide open, giving me a front row seat the what was behind the doors. Spoiler alert, it was chaos. Every light in the home was on, things were scattered about as if the place had been ransaced. Children’s toys, pictures of her and her kids, cleaning supplies, random bags of trash all left behind. It was obvious she wasn’t expecting her deposit back. The door stayed open until the next morning, the contents of her life laid bare for all to see.

As for Tom and I, it was like reading a book with the last page ripped out. Why did she leave so quickly? Why did she leave behind all of her children’s things? Did she not pay her rent? Should we alert someone? In the end, the story began just as it started, with lots of assumptions and the burning thought that some things are better left to the unknown.

10 Hacks for Your Small Apartment

Our apartment is small. There’s just no getting around it. Sometimes, it feels like we are living inside a dollhouse. Coming in at around 900 square feet, our apartment is not atrociously small. In fact, it’s a first world problem to even complain about that much space. But much of those 900 square feet is wasted in nonsensical things like a second bathroom and a patio that’s too small to use. Storage is a huge issue and we had to get creative.

So, how did we embrace the chaos of our small space? I took to the wonderful world of Pinterest and the carnival that is my mind and created an apartment we love.

Creative

We had to do a lot of improvisation. If our apartment was a jazz song, it would be seriously cool. These are what books we had left after we went through and purged the ones we didn’t need anyone. They are sitting on the ground under an end table that serves as our entertainment center. They look cute and our bookshelf went on to bigger and better things. You see, when you live in a small space it’s important to use every piece of furniture to the best of its ability.

Baskets

I use baskets for everything. I use them to store blankets, toiletries, baby toys, tea bags. EVERYTHING. As you can see, I have more lotions here than any one girl needs, but they are stored on top of my toliet in a cute basket, so they are taking up space I wasn’t using anyway. Baskets help you contain items that might otherwise be strewn about. One thing you learn in a small apartment is that they are easy to clean and easy to get dirty. You can find cheap baskets at thrift stores, Michaels, TJ Maxx, Target and Ross.

BoxIf you’re not good at thinking outside the box, don’t worry. Just create a Pinterest account and let the magic begin. These Ikea spice racks hold all of the toiletries I use every day. It frees up drawers in my bathroom, keeps my counters from looking cluttered and gives me easy access to my things in the morning.I have a small basket (more baskets) sitting on my husbands bathroom counter to keep his things together. He doesn’t have enough for shelving units to be necessary. One day, we’ll paint them to make it a little more fun!

SpaceLiving in a small apartment means using every inch of available space. I have DVDs under my couch, boxes slid under my dresser, and things on top of my fridge. If you have OCD like me, this can make you feel short of breath. Don’t worry. I never see any of the stuff hiding under random furniture. Out of sight, out of mind. For the things I do have to see, like on top of the fridge, I make sure they look presentable, almost like decorations more than extra storage. Plus I try to put out things that look pretty, but also need somewhere to go.

Wall Space

Our cabinets are so small that these pans would never have fit. Putting them under the stove turned out to be a nightmare. Putting them in the stove turned out to be dangerous. So, I had the idea of hanging the on the wall. They look good and they free up space in our kitchen. We use wall space a lot. This is very important when you’re in a small apartment. When it doubt, hang it on the wall. (Note: not recommended for socks and underwear.)

Access

I like to cook and I like my food to taste like things. That combo means I have lots of spices. Being a fantastic 5’2, storing the spices above our stove made me feel like I was trying out for little league basketball every day. I often had to push spices out with the tips of my fingers and try to catch them with my very far from cat like reflexes only to find out it was basil, not oregeno. Make things accessible. If you use lots of coffee mugs, consider hanging them from the bottom of the cabinets. If you use your blender more often than your toaster consider storing the blender and putting out the toaster. You can make practical and pretty work at the same time, even in a small apartment.

Doors

This is a shoe organizer. I have several of them located throughout the house on doors to store odds and ends. No one sees them and you can store all kinds of things in them. This one is hanging in our nursery, so it stores stuff like butt cream and diapers, but I have another that stores shoes. These are cheap and can be used for so many things. Just go to Target and buy a few. You will not regret it.

Stoage

Our pantry is a sad joke.  Seriously, it was like playing Tetris every time I had to unload groceries. We didn’t buy things sometimes because “it wouldn’t fit in the pantry”. I would have to remove 16 things before I could get to what I needed. Our washer and dryer closet it in our kitchen and waste a ton of good kitchen storage space. I got the idea of putting drawers in there to store the dry goods we don’t use every day. Now we can buy BOGO coffee at Publix without fretting over where we’ll put it. Strausbaugh family 1: Small apartment: 0.

Repurpose

Remember that bookshelf I told you about? Here it is. Repainted and re-purposed. I really wanted a hutch for our dining room, but we didn’t have the room or money for the one I wanted. That was when I got the idea to use our bookshelf. My husband painted it and it fits perfectly in our dining room, holding appliances that are too big for our small kitchen, along with some odds, ends and necessities (like booze). Instead of purchasing new furniture, try to think of new ways to use what you already have.

DIY

Living in an apartment is hard because there’s only so much you can do to make it yours. We decided to start making our furniture into pieces that we really love. Our coffee table, which my husband owned throughout his college years, was less than beautiful. It was functional and that’s what we needed. The top was scratched and we really hated it. One day, after I decided to paint my toe nails on the table, thereby removing a chunk of paint, I decided the table needed a makeover. I had the idea of doing a mosaic design and my husband brilliantly executed the plan. Now we don’t need to use coasters (um, because let’s be honest, my husband wasn’t using them anyway) and it’s a unique piece of furniture in our house that is exactly what we wanted.

Preparing to Stop Being “In Love” With My Husband

IMG_20141022_172809351

In the beginning, love comes naturally.

I’m getting married in a week. Right now, we’re in love. Things are easy. I know it’s not going to always be like this. Any book you read will tell you that the “in love” experience and euphoria only lasts two years. So what happens when we start to fall out of love?

I guess it’s something you don’t really consider when you’re in the moment. I mean, everything feels great. It’s hard to imagine not having the feeling. It’s hard to believe that someday you might not feel that same excitement and spark. When that feeling fades, I think one of two things happen.

Some people resign themselves. They figure this is what relationships are. Their relationship slowly becomes a lifestyle rather than a life. It’s normal, even if it’s not good. They become accustomed to that life and believe it’s the best things can be, but the relationship has gone stale. I think these people are the more logical type.

Then others will believe that things can’t possibly be this way. I think these people are more dreamers. They see life as a grand fairy tale and when it doesn’t match that fantasy anymore they find ways to change that. More often than not, these people seek new romances. New romances are almost always exciting and energizing. When they find that same in-love experience they once had, they believe this time could not possibly end so badly.

I’ve been there. I’m a dreamer. I never prepared myself to stop feeling in love. Right now, it’s easy for me to speak my future husbands love language (read Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages). I don’t have to work at doing things for him and I relish in going out of my way to see him happy. When things go wrong it’s easy for me to look past his faults. It’s easy for me to forgive him. It’s easy for me to see past his whiskers in the sink.

What’s different about this relationship is that I know that love is ultimately a choice. I know that one day the sparks won’t be flying and that we’ll come to know a deeper kind of love. One that is consistent, stable and built upon shared experiences. But that kind of love isn’t natural. It takes a conscious effort day in and day out.

The first day I met my future husband, I knew I wanted to marry him. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind, and my love for him was reaffirmed every day. I can’t imagine my future without him, so I decided to do something differently. We both decided to do something differently. We opened ourselves up to the idea of better or worse.

I know it’s going to take work, but I also know that it’s going to be worth it. I want to live life with this man, and although that isn’t always going to match my visions of a fairy tale, my life will always be will perfectly imperfect. After all, aren’t we all just making memories out of mishaps?

7 Reasons To NEVER Get Gel Nails

Never Get Gel Nails

The damaging after-effects of gel nails.

Ladies, we’ve all been there. You’re relaxing, treating yourself to a mani/pedi and suddenly you’re stuck in the middle of some 1950’s sales pitch. Want to be more beautiful? Waiting for him to pop the question? Want to look 10 pounds slimmer? Well have we the solution for you! Gel nails will solve all your problems in two easy steps for just $15 more.

Sound too good to be true? Yeah, it is. Gel nails do offer some benefits. They last longer and they dry instantly, so when your nails are painted you’re ready to leave. You don’t have to worry about smudging your nails on the steering wheel. Seriously, that sucks. Nothing ruins your day faster than paying $35 for nails that look like you painted them yourself. It seems worth the extra money. At first.

Okay, so you leave the nail salon and you’re ready to take on the world with your new indestructible nails. No worries, this polish isn’t coming off for anything. It’s the only thing besides a cockroach that will survive a nuclear holocaust. That’s great news compared to regular polish that chips if you do anything besides look helpless and dainty.

Once your nail starts to grow out the polish just inches on up, like a pair of flood pants in middle school. It’s gross. That polish isn’t going anywhere and your options are limited. So, without further ado, here are the 7 Reasons to NEVER Get Gel Nails. 

1. UV LIGHTS

Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that hanging out under UV lights isn’t the best for you. When you get gel nails, they stick your freshly painted hand directly under a UV light for a total time of about 20 minutes. Talk about skin cancer central. If you MUST get the evil gel nail, put on some sunscreen first. Seriously. NEVER get gel nails. 

2. STAGE 5 CLINGER

These nails are like a bad boyfriend that won’t go away. Long after your nails start growing out the polish is still holding strong. I am fairly certain you could stick your hand into a vat of acid and your nails would survive the encounter. Before you know it you have this awesome reverse french manicure. Not cute. Oh, and if you think this is come off easy, guess again. NEVER get gel nails. 

3. ACETONE BATH

Sound unpleasant? It is. When you decide you can no longer stand the atrocity that has become your nails you’ll go back to the salon. They will then unload their arsenal of terrible techniques to remove the evil gel polish. Your precious fingers will spend the next 15 minutes or so soaking in a delightful bath of hot water and acetone. By the time it’s over your fingers will have begun to prune and turn white. Then they’ll get out a scraping tool and proceed to scrape off the indestructible coat of polish, along with the top layer of your nail. NEVER get gel nails. 

4. PAPER THIN

At this point you’re probably thoroughly convinced that you’ll never get gel nails, EVER AGAIN! But then you see your nails. They are transparent, chipped, riveted and weak. It isn’t just ugly, it’s offensive. To top it all off your nails now have the consistency of parchment paper, which means you have no choice but to cut your nails down to the skin….or to get gel nails again. In a heat of the moment decision, you pick a color and leap just one more time. NEVER get gel nails. 

5. GEL HELL CYCLE

Now you’re officially in what I’ve dubbed the gel hell cycle. You think this would have happened to me only once, but no. I’ve gotten trapped in the gel hell cycle twice now. I like to make mistakes 2-3 times just to be sure it was actually a mistake. Once you’ve had gel nails, you almost need them because your nails are structurally ruined. To save yourself the embarrassment of anyone seeing your torn up, paper thin nails you just keep coating them in the evil gel. It’s a cycle sure to disappoint. NEVER get gel nails. 

6. ADDICT PICKING

Gel nails eventually turned me into a pseudo meth addict. Determined to get the gel nails off without the assistance of acetone, I started picking. I was chipping the polish of my nails bit by bit, like a prisoner trying to break out of prison using a sharpened tooth brush. My new full-time hobby became trying to remove this layer of gel nails that was permanently fixated to my body, much to the chagrin of my boyfriend. Following his request that I stop peeling my nails off, I started picking in his absence. Picture this: he gets out of the car to pump gas and I am furiously picking at my nails, stealing glances out the window to see if he’s coming like some kind of addict. NEVER get gel nails. 

7. POCKMARK NAILS

See that lovely picture of my nails? I promise you they didn’t look like that before. Whether you get the acetone bath first or just addict pick at home, you can be assured  that your nails will look like a meth addicts face. It’s disturbing. My nails are flaking. They are brittle, riveted and ugly. Without a coat of clear polish over them I am sure they’d break. It looks like I have some awful nail disease. I feel like a should scream leper when I walk into a room. NEVER get gel nails. 

I have haven’t convinced you, scroll back up to the top and take another gander at those nails. You don’t want that. Don’t get stuck in the gel hell cycle. Save yourself while there’s still time. And finally, NEVER get gel nails.