Sep 16

Daring to Go Bare

1 Comment / Featured, Personal Growth

What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. - Anna Quindlen

I am not perfect.

That may be an obvious statement, but writing it also feels like a confession. Despite my Type-A tendencies, I spend most of my time quite comfortable with the idea that I am a project in progress. But when I have to wear my flaws on my face, I turn into a totally different person.

I have struggled with acne since I was in middle school. Back then, the ugliness of it all was tempered by the fact that everyone my age was an awkward mess. It got worse in cycles through high school and college, which had predictable social effects, but I tried to buff my way through the worst of it with mounds of makeup. At that point, my poor skin was so inflamed that I knew I couldn’t fake my way to a perfect complexion, but I merely hoped that I could find confidence in blending in. All I wanted was to know that when someone was looking at me, they could see something beyond this red bumpy mask that hid who I really was.

Years of treatments proved effective only temporarily. In those reprieves, my confidence soared, and I felt like my whole life got easier. There was so much more time and energy I could direct to the things I loved, and when I stepped out into the world, the way I looked finally felt like a reflection of who I was. I stopped wondering what other people were thinking as they passed me on the street. I think I saw the world differently, too.

Ironically, when I decided to nix some elements of my lifestyle that didn’t align with my goals to live more naturally, my body went into another one of those terrible transition periods. As I try to make new friends and start building a life for myself in Seattle, I’m once again wearing that mask, hoping people will bother to see behind it.

I have been tempted to go back to my old medications, my old products, my old habits – anything to make the discomfort go away. Instead, I have committed even more deeply to a natural lifestyle, knowing that this transition is, by nature, temporary. Although it takes time, I know that I can help myself be happier and healthier if I just continue to follow through with my vision. Instead of pills and chemicals, I’m using diet and natural remedies to fix the problem from the inside out. In the short term, it doesn’t feel fast enough, but in the long term I will be proud of myself for finding a sustainable, natural solution I can incorporate into my daily life.

In the meantime, I make my confession: I am not perfect. In the meantime, I wear my imperfections on my face. Slowly, I build the courage to go out without makeup, knowing that trying to conceal my flaws doesn’t help them heal. Burying my flaws in makeup doesn’t make me like myself any more when I wash up for bed; it only makes me think that I couldn’t be accepted any other way.

Maybe first impressions will be a little harder, but I am resolving to limit my makeup use as much as possible. No one is perfect, and just like I don’t want to be defined by my acne, I don’t want to be defined by a false sense of perfection. When I hide my flaws, I am putting conditions on the love I have for myself. My fears are superficial and illogical: I am afraid that I could not be loved when I am so obviously imperfect, when the truth is that I cannot experience the love of others if I do not first love myself unconditionally – without the makeup.

Everyone has flaws, and we are all trying to find ways to heal. Sometimes we just have to bear our truth, and wear a smile while we fight our fight – whatever it is. Whether your challenge is something you wear on the outside or fight with on the inside, we can’t always keep it together during those terrible transitions.

Rock your flaws, accept yourself, and hold onto your vision. [Tweet this]


1 Comment

  1. Habitually Hopeful | Acne: It’s (partially) in your head

    September 24, 2014


    […] my last post, I talked about how I am braving the world sans makeup. It’s not an ultimadum or some fad — it’s about breaking the cycle of chronic […]

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