I did not actually wake up like this

I need to learn to take kindly to being misunderstood. To forget about it, to let people think what they want.

But I guess when a message I’m trying to portray is so important, in my opinion, and so often lost, that’s when I feel the need to make it clear.

Ok, so let me start here:

I share a lot about myself. I put a lot of me out here for you all to read…(and by all of you, I mean you, you…the one who birthed me…hi Mom. Perhaps my one and only avid reader…)

No, seriously though, for anyone else out there, there’s not much about me that I won’t put to words on this blog. But there is one thing I never thought I’d share.

Remember when I complained about my really horrible acne? And everyone gave their advice, from home remedies to cutting food from my diet. All very kind advice, coming from the most loving of intentions.

But I don’t think most really knew the severity of the situation. The situation that made people stare, that made my dermatologist’s jaw drop upon entering the room. The situation that caused me to hide from the world, to never want to leave the house. The situation that sent me into something of a depression.

If you’ve followed along you know I talk about it a lot. I did the elimination diet for months to no avail – cut out dairy, gluten, meat, processed foods, etc. from my diet. Exercised often, made sure I broke a major sweat every day. But nothing seemed to help.

Now? Now, after a month and a half of antibiotics, it is cleared for the most part. And I could not be more grateful.

This is it. Here are the photos of what I went through. This was the acne struggle I told you guys about once I returned home after my six months of travel. The time period spanning between February all the way through May/June of this year:

Cystic Acne

As you can see, this was serious. It was greatly upsetting. And while in this pit of insecurity, I allowed every single other insecurity I’ve ever had to get out of control simultaneously.

Not only was my face terrible, but it was too chubby. I wasn’t thin enough. I all of a sudden felt insecure about my lack of curves again (hello 6th grade through high school all over again).

I remember when it was time to see my boyfriend again, for the first time in months upon returning from my travels. We were going to Vegas for a friend’s birthday.

I was to do so with ^ that face.

I was so nervous to see him. I was so nervous and anxious to see this guy – this guy who I’d known and been with for nearly ten years.

This guy who has seen me at my best and at my worst, who has loved me the whole time no matter what. This guy I never cared being makeup-free around, who was no longer phased by my ugly facial expressions, who I fart around, burp at, who I leave the door open when I use the restroom around. I was all of a sudden worried that this same guy wouldn’t think I was beautiful anymore. That he wouldn’t love me anymore.

I made sure I got to our hotel first, and rushed to my room to do my hair, get all dolled up, and more importantly, attempt to slather makeup on my face. To cover it as much as possible.

I got frustrated.

I’d start, and hate it, then wipe it all off to start again. I was getting worked up, and the beads of sweat on my forehead were smudging away the layers. I would start crying – at first, a few tears streaming through the cakes of foundation. Then I would just break down, sobbing, and look up to see a complete mess in the mirror. I’d look up to see a reflection I hated.

Then, a knock at the door. He was here.

I have never been more nervous to open the door. And when I finally did, the look on his face broke my heart.

Spoiler alert: our relationship did not end because of my acne. Of course he still loved me. And he even still thought I was beautiful, disastrous as my skin was and all. But he was literally taken aback by the severity of my acne on first glance, and I saw it in his face.

I’d told him time and time again prior to that weekend over the phone that it was “bad,” and he would keep assuring me it was “fine.” He didn’t really believe me, I guess. I still remember the horror in his face when he saw with his own eyes that, yes, it was in fact “bad.” Very bad.

It hurt my feelings instantly. I took it very personally. But I know now he was really just upset for me. Because he knows how much it pained me, and how insecure and upset I was over it.

But I didn’t think of it that way at the time. And the entire weekend as we walked around half-naked, gorgeous women, my insecurities spiraled out of control. I compared myself to everyone. Everyone was better than me. Skinnier, bigger boobs, better skin, better hair, more fit, more toned.

We all go through it, don’t we? Especially we women. We compare ourselves, we analyze ourselves, we put our bodies through hell for it to be what everyone thinks it should.

Anyway, like I mentioned earlier, my skin got a lot better. Yes, I have some pretty deep scarring here and there, but honestly, I’m just so grateful for where I am now.

I am so grateful for my body and the way it serves me every day. I am grateful for my health. I’m grateful that everything functions the way it’s supposed to. And I realize I need to stop being so mean to it when it performs so exceptionally in so many ways.

Acne is a skin disease. In no way I am saying it is something that is normal that people are supposed to just feel comfortable with. If you have one or two zits and feel like you want to hide in your room forever? Yeah, maybe a bit excessive. But when it’s out of control, it is a disease, and you should not have to get used to it. You should do what you can to get your skin back to normalcy.

What I am saying, though, is that this one insecurity of mine so quickly elevated all the rest that I have. And I was really disappointed in myself. “I’m 27 years old, for crying out loud,” I’d think to myself.

But I should know better than to think every woman should be rid of her insecurities as they approach their 30s. I have come a long way from my teenage days in terms of how I respond to those insecurities, though. And the main thing that I’ve found that gets me through those insecurities is reminding myself what I’m comparing myself to, what standards I’m holding for myself.

Because what does it boil down to? Society’s rules of beauty. Media’s rules of beauty. Kylie Jenner lips. Jennifer Aniston’s boobs. Kim Kardashian’s ass. Angelina Jolie’s everything. The airbrushed faces of every billboard and magazine.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Kylie’s lips, Jen’s boobs, Kim’s ass, and Angelina’s whole enchilada. But it’s wrong to think that that is what you should be, what you should strive to have. And the amount of photoshop done in the media is downright wrong. We forget how easy it is for people’s bodies and faces to be transformed by it. We forget and we still compare.

Everyone is different. Everyone is different. Everyone is different for a reason.

It sounds cliché, but it is really so powerful and profound when you come to embrace and accept it. That you were not mean to be any certain way other than a healthy, happy you. And you know deep down what that is. The fact that everyone is trying to look the same and be the same is a problem.

But we get so sucked into it. I do, absolutely. All the time.

So I made this video on Instagram:

My (missed, to some) point?

We put a lot of effort into making ourselves look a certain way. Makeup, angles, poses, filters, even photoshop. We put so much effort into achieving that “perfect” exterior. And it’s easy to do. To look like we lead this perfect life. To look like we have it all figured out. Fronting. We expend a lot of energy to do it. And we want it to seem effortless. Like we “just woke up like this.”

So wait, why did I feel the need to post that video of me made up and made down? And what was the point of my acne photos?

Yes, I like to take pretty photos of myself and post them on social media. Yes, I post pretty sunset photos and pictures of my travels, and some appetizing food photos along the way.

Does money fall out of my asshole (or my parents’), thus enabling me to do whatever I want, whenever I please, and never have to work hard for it? Is my life a fairy tale where I travel the world and go wherever I want and never have to deal with any sort of work or responsibility? Um, no, sorry to burst your bubble.

Is my life easy breezy? Am I immune of struggles and issues and challenges? Of course not, what the hell.

Are me and my boyfriend this dream couple and do we spend our free time holding hands, running into the sunset in a field full of daisies? No way. We have been through hell and back but it’s made us who we are and he’s still the only person I want to be with despite it all.

Do my parents and I always get along? Are me and my dad besties? Yeah, right. I fight with mine too. (But me and my dad really are besties.)

Did I wake up like that (acne photo collage)? At the time, yup.

Did I wake up like this – made up, filtered up, photoshopped up? Hell no.

(But that healed up, acne-free – though scarred, makeup-free few seconds of a face IS how I wake up these days, and man does that make me happy.)

Be kind to yourself. Do not ever be fooled by someone’s Instagram feed, and furthermore, feel the need to compare yourself based on what they appear to be. They may not be as “perfect” as you think. And that’s good, that’s great. That’s reality, people.

And be kind to others. Don’t judge, don’t act like you understand someone’s struggles and someone’s privileges by glancing at their feed from time to time. Everyone is facing his/her own battles.

Here is the rest of the audio clip from Lauryn Hill’s MTV Unplugged performances back in 2002 (spitting knowledge wayyyy before Beyonce’s feminism) that really moved me the other day, that I couldn’t fit in those 15 seconds on one Instagram post. I hope after you listen to it, you understand what I was going for. And I hope it allows you to reevaluate your own life in a few ways.

P.S. You are beautiful. You are worthy. Be you. The world needs you to be you.

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