Meditations on Acne
Acne is something lots of people suffer from. My first zit appeared when I was around fourteen, and for the last sixteen years it has come and gone. Like a terrible tide. My acne isn’t really that bad. Still, it’s usually bad enough for me to think about more often than I’d like. It’s sort of difficult not to think about spots on your face. Not only can everyone see them, and possibly judge you for them, but they also hurt. A lot. Having zits messes with my self-perception. Looking in the mirror is actually far worse than facing other people.
Sometimes, when I think about my acne, all I can think is that my face is a traitor. If it is going to break out, foiling my quest for self-esteem and personal success, then I am going to resort to full chemical warfare. If acne was allowed representation in the United Nations, it would demand sanctions against states that use benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
It would be wasted effort though, because acne is a better general than I. Using chemical weapons works great, unless you are overzealous in your assault. If you use them too much, it diminishes their effectiveness, and actually allows the enemy to regain lost ground.
For me, there is no magic weapon that will eliminate acne forever. No matter what proactiv and xout commercials claim.
I don’t believe a perfect complexion is a pre-requisite for happiness and/or popularity. Sometimes the best way to deal with things you hate, but can’t get rid of, is to convince yourself those things are actually cool.
So there are times when I think about my acne, and I also think about The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. In that story, certain sneetches have stars on their bodies and are supposedly better than sneetches who do not. I know the point of the story is that standards of coolness are highly subjective, and people who think they are better than others are really just jerks. Still, when I am feeling bad about acne, it helps to think about a much more petty lesson. If having “stars on thars” makes a sneetch better, maybe having spots on face makes a human better, too.
Other times I think about acne in a pseudo-noble, romantic sort of way. Some say suffering is the path toward wisdom. Having mild-to-moderate acne for a long time is the ideal form of suffering. It hurts just enough to make you think, but not enough to make you miserable. It is just enough of an ordeal to make you strong. Maybe, if you can learn to live with acne, you can learn to live with anything. Acne can make a person just ugly enough to learn that looks don’t matter, without having to go full hunchback or anything.
Maybe a person with spots on their face is a person who knows how to live with pain. Who is confident, but knows the true freedom of humility. That sounds like a wise person to me.