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5 Things I've Learned from Living with Cystic Acne

Lessons on Loving Yourself

By Rose HalPublished 6 years ago 4 min read

I have spent almost eight years of my life suffering with severe cystic acne. Not only has it been mentally and physically painful, but it has also had long-term effects on my self-esteem. Reflecting on my acne journey one-year post-Accutane, I have realized that I have learned a lot from eight years of being at war with my skin. Upon realizing this, I have decided to compile this list for past, present, and future acne sufferers (myself included) to highlight the positives that have come from this self-esteem crushing struggle. Here are five things living with cystic acne has taught me:

1. Those that love me don’t care what my skin looks like.

I can’t even count the amount of times I have woken up, looked in the mirror, and cried because I didn’t want to face the people I love while my face was covered in swollen, painful cysts. I have cancelled on friends, stayed home from school, and even avoided family because I was ashamed of how my skin looked. Despite this, my loved ones didn’t stop inviting me places. They were not ashamed to be with me. They genuinely didn’t care what my skin looked like. This was hard for me to understand at the time because I was so disgusted with my skin that I assumed other people felt the same way I did. The truth is, nobody chooses friends based on whether or not they have clear skin. Those that really love you do so because of who you are, not how you look. So if there is anyone in your life that makes you feel badly about yourself because of your acne, you are better off without them.

2. Some things are out of my control.

As a textbook perfectionist who likes to be in control of everything in my life, this was a hard lesson for me to learn. Nevertheless, it was an important one. I spent eight years desperately trying to control my skin with every treatment option you could imagine. In the end, I’ve been forced to come to the realization that some things are simply out of my control and this is OK. Life is messy and complicated and incapable of being perfect, and although this sounds like a perfectionist’s personal hell, acknowledging this has made it much easier to live with the imperfect nature of life (and skin).

3. Comparison is the thief of joy.

One of the worst things about having acne is going out in the world and coming literally face to face with the clear-skinned majority of the population. I have made myself feel inferior and ugly at times just by comparing my skin to that of everyone around me. There was a point in my life where I spent the majority of my time in public comparing my skin to my friends, family, and complete strangers. Even when I tried to escape this by staying in and watching Netflix, I found myself comparing my skin to the actors’ skin in my favorite shows. It took me a while to realize that what I was doing was wrecking my self-esteem, and since this realization I’ve made a conscious effort to stop comparing myself to others.

4. Nobody deserves to be judged based on things they cannot control.

I genuinely believe that my stuggle with acne has made me a more compassionate person overall. I have spent a lot of my life worried that people were judging me for my skin, and therefore I have always been careful not to judge others for aspects of their appearance that they cannot control. When meeting new people, I was always nervous that the first thing they noticed about me was my acne. I realize now that I shouldn't have cared what strangers thought about my skin, but at the time I was desperate to blend in and not be noticed because of my acne. My own struggles with self esteem have helped me to be kinder to everyone I meet because I know how terrible it feels to be insecure about things that are out of your control.

5. I have more to offer the world than my outward appearance.

Maybe to other people, this one is obvious, but I spent so long obsessing over my acne and how to "fix" it so that I could be considered beautiful, that I forgot that there are many more important things I could have been striving to be. Looking back, I wish I had spent my teenage years putting energy into becoming kinder, stronger, smarter, and braver, rather than less pimply. Beauty is a societal construct that means very little in the end, and of course clear skin is not a prerequisite to being beautiful. I know how awful it feels to battle against yourself for so long and continually feel like you are losing, so if you are tired of fighting against acne, I suggest putting that energy into other aspects of your life. Develop your hobbies, spend time with the people you love, focus on becoming kinder, smarter, stronger, and braver. You will not regret doing any of these things. Nothing truly lasts forever, and acne is no different. It will go away. In the meantime, know that it does not define you. You have so much more to offer the world than superficial beauty.


About the Creator

Rose Hal

Just a college student who likes to write occassionally.

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