Living with acne is tough. Some days you feel like you don’t matter, some days you feel angry, some days you feel completely alone. I’ve been there and I know what it’s like to hate your own face because of acne.
In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned over the years about my acne and my emotions.
What is acne?
Acne is often described as a disease involving the sebaceous follicles and hair follicles of the skin. It occurs in people who have a genetic predisposition; if acne runs in the families of both parents, three out of four children may suffer from it.
Sebaceous and hair follicles are associated with a sebaceous gland that produces sebum, a complex mixture of lipids. In the hair follicle, the hair acts as a wick, transporting sebum and other cellular debris to the surface of the skin, where it is ultimately removed. Inflammation or infection is rarely associated with this type of follicle, unless the hair becomes ingrown or the opening of the hair follicle becomes clogged.
Why is Adult Acne on the Rise? – Dr. Diana Howard | The International Dermal Institute
The sebaceous follicle, usually lacking a hair or containing only a rudimentary fine hair, is generally associated with the disease acne. Activity of the sebaceous gland is stimulated by many factors, including the onset of puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pharmaceutical agents, stress, using inappropriate products on the skin, heat, friction and humidity.
Like many people, my trouble with acne started in my teenage years. The first year I had acne, I remember a lot of people just staring at me because I had so many pimples that my face literally looked purple from the inflammation.
Over the years, I’ve tried dozens of different treatments while hoping to get rid of my acne. Some helped, others only made things worse.
It wasn’t until around 2 years ago (2017) when my acne finally started calming down.
Now, my face is no longer covered in pimples but I still have a lot of deep acne scars and hyperpigmentation (skin discolouring).
Acne makes me ugly
The default state of mind for someone with a lot of acne is to think somewhere along the lines of “I’m so ugly, people are going to stare at my pimples”. At least, it was for me.
If you’re anything like I used to be, you’ve probably been through something similar. Maybe you’re even going through it right now.
But, does acne really make you ugly?
If the only reason that you feel ugly is because of your acne, then maybe you are. But, it’s probably not in the way you think you are.
If you’ve ever asked yourself whether your acne actually makes you ugly or not, I’m 100% sure you’re only thinking about the physical aspect of things. “Ugly” is subjective and you’re the only one who can decide whether you find something or someone ugly or not.
When I had a lot of acne all over my face, I would always wake up to the thought of “Do I have any new breakouts?”. I was so obsessed with all of the changes on my face that I was consistently torturing myself.
“Were people staring at me? That person over there definitely is. Did one of my pimples pop? Is it oozing pus somewhere?” were the words that kept repeating in my head.
No matter what I did, I was always thinking about the pimples on my face. Even on the most beautiful days of the year when the sun was out and the temperature was just right, my thoughts started and ended with my acne.
This went on for several years and I felt absolutely miserable about my skin throughout the entire time. Then, a few years ago, I finally figured out why I was so miserable.
The reason was simple, I was miserable because I allowed myself to feel miserable. So, if you think you’re ugly, then chances are that you actually are ugly. But, I don’t mean that in the physical sense of the word. Instead, I mean that your mentality is ugly.
Let’s think about it more thoroughly. Why does having acne make us feel so bad?
It doesn’t affect our body’s physical ability to move or function. So, why is it such a big deal? The quick answer, we’ve been trained to think this way by the media.
Mainstream media makes us wish for perfect skin with all those flashy ads with gorgeous people in them.
And, because we keep on seeing flawless faces all over our screens, we learn to associate flawless skin with having a better way of life.
Whether it’s consciously or sub-consciously, we’ve been trained to think that having perfectly even skin will automatically mean our lives will improve for the better.
While it is true that our lives can improve once our acne is gone, why does that have to only be after the acne is gone?
Our skin is the largest organ that’s part of our body. But, again, having facial acne doesn’t affect our physical abilities much at all.
Sure we might be uncomfortable at times as the acne makes our face literally heat up from inflammation, but other than that what does it do to our bodies?
Instead of our physical body, it’s our mind that gets affected the most by our acne.
Regaining your self esteem
I know it seems like it’s easier said than done to ignore the acne and just live your life to the fullest, but trust me when I say that you’re the only one stopping yourself.
To regain your self esteem, the only thing you really have to do is get out of your own way.
When I realized I was my biggest enemy, I quickly started pushing myself out of my self made anxiety bubble.
Even on those days when I felt like my life couldn’t possibly get any worse, I forced my self to just think of my acne as just being something like another plugged up nose.
After all, you never see anyone be self-conscious about having a plugged up nose from a cold. Besides, the physical effects that a single weekend with a cold has on the body are already much worse than what facial acne will ever cause.
Thinking about it in that way, I began to rationalize things a lot more. If a single cold messes with my body more than my acne ever would, what reason did I have to be so anxious? One word, vanity.
Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Vanity, fear, desire, competition– all such distortions within our own egos– condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other.Tennessee Williams
Instead of letting vanity get in the way of your best life, push yourself out of your comfort zone and just be comfortable with who you are (flaws and all).
If you’re worried that your acne might never allow you to find the right partner, remind yourself that anyone who doesn’t want to be with you just because of your acne probably wouldn’t be good fit for you anyway. Why worry about people that don’t even deserve to be in your life?
The only people you should want in your life are the ones that can see past your flaws. Don’t settle for anyone less.
If you’re worried about never getting a good job because of your acne, screw the job, start a business. If you’re the boss and the one making decisions, you no longer have any reason to worry about finding a job.
No matter what problem you feel is connected with your acne, there is a solution to it. You just need to be creative enough to find it and execute it.
If you’d like to know more about self-hatred, read my article on Why do I Hate My Self? Dealing With Disappointment and Anger