Dealing with Acne Scars and Perfectionist Thinking


I’ve always had great, clear and vibrant skin but a year and a half ago I broke out into terrible acne. It was sudden, due to a stressful situation and perhaps ‘hormones.’  When I removed the stressor and cleaned my gut, the breakouts stopped quickly but left acne scars and red marks on my cheeks. Having never dealt with acne (besides the occasional pimple) as a teenager, I was really overwhelmed by this sudden change at 29 years old.

I tried makeup (something I am neither accustomed to nor a fan of), topical treatments, peels…I was obsessed with checking for twice daily improvements. I read forums and spent hours examining old photos of my ‘clear’ face. I consulted aestheticians and dumped money on useless products. When I spoke to people, all I could think about was them looking at my acne scars. When friends asked “Hey what happened, your skin has always been perfect!?” I’d start with my saga. Not to mention I would beat myself up daily. “How could I just walk around with these holes in my face?” “I need my skin to be how it used to be, then life will be great!”

dealing-acneI was in this anxiety-inducing battle between victimizing and piercing feelings of inadequacy. Learning to deal with the fact that something visible about me was not how it “should” be and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it (besides use Retin-A and be patient) illuminated a perfectionist thinking that has permeated my life. I’m always expecting to succeed right away, trying to control outcomes before I even begin and starting then abandoning activities that I may actually be talented in.

Seeing my ‘imperfections’ daily was just too overwhelming and to cope, I learned to start thinking in gradations and to keep re-focusing on things I could control.

The shift in perspective helped me feel a lot better about my face and helped me let go of trying to dictate unimportant details in my life; like planning the minutiae of my wedding.

I still have a long way to go.  I have my moments here and there where I let out an ‘Oh my God’ when looking in the mirror. Or most recently, the irrational frustration about not being able to master a Bhangra move on the first try, and storming out of the complex after losing a close game of badminton. The distress caused by ‘perceived’ failure limits me tremendously – has me quitting before I start. I’d love to rid myself of the overwhelming demand to be the best.

Thanks acne scars, jk.