Syi: Loving Myself in the Moment

Syi is a skin positive influencer from Indonesia. 

Developing acne at 11 caused me to be insecure at a very young age. As a young girl, my acne wouldn’t stop, and I didn’t know where it was coming from. None of my family had acne, and I was the only one who had it. It was very confusing for me because I couldn’t talk to anyone. There was no one to help me because no one around me had experienced acne. My only “resource” was unsolicited advice. People started making comments which I hated so much, but instead of showing it, I just responded with what people wanted to hear. I just sat there and hoped for the conversation to be over soon. 

By high school, my self-esteem was at its lowest. I’m not someone who cries easily, but during that time, I’ve never cried more. I used to have bangs, and I never put my hair in a ponytail because I wanted to cover my cheeks. I worked very hard to fit in, but it seemed in vain. Nevertheless, as time went on, I was able to accept that everyone is different. I realize that I don’t need to fit in. Embracing my individuality was a very important part of self-discovery. Looking back, I understand why I couldn’t resolve my inner struggles. It's because I was trying to be like everyone else. With time though, I started finding myself.

At 18, I moved to Bali, and I feel like that was a turning point for me. This was the beginning of my journey. I was independent, but I still battled with a negative self-image and acne. Upon moving, I remember having intense breakouts. I have malassezia or fungal acne so humid weather like Bali’s irritates it. On top of that, I was very stressed because I didn’t have much support, and I knew no one. I was balancing working and school, and I had to support myself. It was quite a lot, but I don’t regret it because I’m much wiser and independent now. If I had not moved to Bali at such a young age, I would not be who I am or have the life that I do today. 

Like - I met my boyfriend in Bali. I actually met him during my worst period of acne, but that didn't matter to him. He truly accepted me even though I couldn’t accept myself, and this really helped. I remember thinking to myself - “If he can accept how my skin looks, why can’t I? This realization was a very pivotal moment for me. I used to always cover my acne without makeup, but I started going out with makeup when I was with him.

From that moment, I wanted to help others as he had helped me. I wanted to raise awareness for other people, and tell them that acne is not the end of the world. Acne is just one thing, and you are much more than your skin. I impulsively started my Instagram page to help people be more confident about their skin. I wanted to share my journey with confidence and provide resources because growing up, I had none.

In the beginning of my body image journey, one of the things that helped me gain confidence was exercise. Upon moving to Bali, I began to exercise more. Exercise helped me regain confidence, and it cleared my head. In addition to eating healthy, I believed that exercise would clear my skin as well. But, this idea turned out not to be good. I developed a fixation with exercise and mindful eating. I developed an eating disorder, and I compelled myself to exercise. Originally, I was working out to gain muscle, but I got addicted to exercise and to counting calories.  My brain got triggered, and it began telling me - “You can’t eat this! You can’t eat that!” Once again, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. All the while, I was trying my hardest to gain muscle, but my mind was telling me that I was gaining fat. I would feel guilty for not working out, and I would feel the need to punish myself for not doing so. My boyfriend was supportive, but I felt as if I couldn’t be open to him because I didn’t want to be a burden. So, I just kept it to myself.

Fortunately, I feel a lot better now.  I’m regaining the food freedom that I had. I’m working out with mindfulness, and I don’t force myself to do it every day. So, it’s good now.  

All in all, my journey with confidence has been a roller coaster ride, but ultimately, I’ve come out with the gift of self awareness and resilience. Even though my life went downhill, I was able to pick myself back up again. I know how to address my problems and give myself healthy solutions.

For example, 3 months ago, I had a health scare so I’ve slowed down a bit. I’ve learned that everything needs to be balanced, and I need to stop beating myself up. I think having the health scare was a good thing for me because now I’m more mindful of how I treat myself whereas before I was putting too much pressure on myself. It’s been a very rocky road, but now, I’m on track. 

I’ve learned not to overreact or overcompensate. I have a long way to go, but I don’t beat myself anymore up for who I am in the moment. We don't always have to be our best. I have to let things unfold, be patient, and let life take me where I need to be.