I worry. I worry about my career, people growing old, love leaving, and my inevitable future with a cat for a partner. This worrying meets my regular crying sessions and my face turns into a stress-induced breakout fiesta. Then I worry about that; and came to realise recently that it’s quite a toxic cycle.
Will my entire face turn into a giant zit courtesy my anxiety and inability to stop rubbing my eyes? Will I end up looking like a Halloween costume in summer? Will my hankering for a good job and Cartier’s love bracelet clog my pores? Will all the sobbing make my lashes flip into my eyes and scratch my corneas? Sigh, stranger things have happened.
It was also around this time when I realised that there are a few topics which aren’t appropriate brunch-conversation these days: STDs, anti-anxiety medication and suicide watches. While adult acne might seem amiable in comparison, it’s mostly met with an awkward silence. On the odd chance that I saw celebrities come out of the pimple closet, they were peddling products and long-winded stories about how they had cleansed themselves of said ‘impurities’.
The perception online wasn’t that acne didn’t exist for adults, it was that it shouldn’t. For the sake of anxious girls everywhere, I decided to find out: is there a connection between being glamorous and stress? Will my new-found path to mental peace and clarity stand the ultimate test of pizza face, tears and survive a good 15-second window-wiper rub with open palms?
Here’s what I did. Cut out toxic people from my life, practise yoga every day and spend more time in a bikini on a sunny beach with my crystals (a few frozen margaritas are helpful). I made no big changes in my skin-care routine, and life in my little bubble went on as it usually does.
I learned that it is a process, to being kinder to yourself. Anyone who has dealt with acne knows that it comes with a side of frustration. And as cliched as it sounds, I am finally understanding the need to get out of the classic ‘I need to do more and be more’ trope. Some would call all of this self-care, but that doesn’t fully cover it for me. I think each of these small changes represent little acts of love, designed to restore battered self-esteem. So yes, my face looks a lot better at this moment, but who really knows what’s in store for next month. Regardless, I will breathe it out and let it go. My skin is thick enough to handle both — the acne and awkward dinner-table conversations.