When I was younger, a lot of my peers didn’t have acne. So, once I got it, it was difficult for me to adjust. I didn’t understand what was happening to my skin. I had to do a lot of research, and that made me feel isolated because no one else was doing that. It seemed like it was just me, and that was very isolating.
I became introverted, and I didn’t know how to react to my emotions so I just receded into myself. During university, my acne really flared up. I remember how hard this was for me because I was always around friends. Because I couldn’t be my normal extroverted self, I believed that I was bringing my friends down. I wanted to be happy and upbeat like them, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and I just felt like I was bringing the whole friend group’s vibe down. When I asked a close friend of mine, she told me - “We don’t think that, and there’s no problem. Don’t be ashamed. Nothing has changed."
Even though she reassured me, I couldn’t get the belief that I was depressing everyone out of my head. I stopped going out which was a hard period of my life. I felt horrible because the whole time I felt like I was supposed to be cherishing my time at university. I felt like I was supposed to be more extroverted and making memories. But when my acne was at its worst, I just couldn't.
I really began to distance myself. People always saw the distancing as bad, but sometimes, it was just that I needed space or a breather. On the other hand, I did fall into isolation sometimes. Every time that I temporarily took time for myself, I had to make the conscious decision of not slipping away.
When you’re alone, it’s very easy to slip into negativity. The way I spent time alone needed to change. So, later during university, I started using the time to reflect on how I felt. From there, I began to realize my worth apart from my skin. That’s the reason I started my Instagram page.
When I started my Instagram, I only posted advice. I didn’t post my face. I was just an anonymous Instagram user who was offering support, but that wasn’t the same as showing my face. When you can see someone’s face, you connect on such a deeper level with the person. As I began to get comments, I realized that the only path to moving forward was putting myself out there. At first, it was really scary, but surprisingly, it’s become a lot easier for me. I always thought my acne was something that I’d have to hide forever. I never thought that I’d get to a place of shamelessness.
Likewise, my outlook on life has changed so much. When I was younger, I had the same level of acne, but before, I was always comparing myself. I was constantly thinking: “She is prettier than you. Her hair is nicer than yours. Her skin is better than yours.” I was so consumed by thoughts of comparison. I allowed what people thought or what I believed they thought to eat me up inside. That led to such much negativity in my life, and my mind became pessimistic.
When I first got acne, there was not one positive thought that came out of my head. However, I’ve transformed my thinking. Instead of thinking “how am I going to cover this?” or “I shouldn’t go out” when I get a spot, I think - “let’s take a picture, put it on Instagram, and see what happens.” This has been my biggest change. I can stand face to face with my true reflection, and I know that sharing it helps others and myself. By being honest, I’ve learned to accept acne as a part of me. It’s helped me, and it’s been character-building. I wouldn’t change anything, and I wouldn’t change my skin.
Every emotional stage of having acne has helped with the next stage, and it’s formed who I am. Acne is a hard thing to overcome. It’s emotionally and physically draining, and it’s horrible when you feel like its just you. I remember feeling helpless, but there were little things that helped me along my journey. Realization by realization, I began to understand what matters most. I began to tell myself that certain things like perfect skin don’t matter. The more I told myself that, the more I truly believed it. On the other hand, I also realized that you can tell yourself something and not really believe it. Positive affirmations can be a mask, but once you go through the hard process of self-growth, you sincerely start to believe them. You have to truly take it in and accept it and that process takes time. And today, I truly believe that I’m just as worthy as those with clear skin.
As hard as it was, I’ve learned not to compare myself, and I want people to know that this will get easier. You will find the solution of self-love. It doesn’t matter how hard it’s going to get or how long it takes.
You’re going to jump over those hurdles, and you will love yourself.
And after that, what more can you ask of yourself?