When I returned from my first year in China, I avoided mirrors. If I caught a glimpse of myself while washing my hands in a public bathroom, I would shake my head, look down, and walk out. It wasn’t until a member of my family said, “Oh my god, what happened to your skin?” did I begin to acknowledge the unbelievable amount of acne that had amassed in my time in Ningyuan and the necessity to do something about it. When at the dermatologist’s office, I remember looking at the ‘before’ picture of my face and for the first time, accepting how far my skin had deteriorated. I looked pretty angry in that photo.
The most difficult part of that entire process wasn’t the numerous trips to the dermatologist, the supplements, the products, or implementing a new routine. It was taking an honest look at myself and coming out of my denial. Looking at where we actually are in life is the first step towards being where we truly want to be. How much time, energy, and life do we waste by diluting ourselves that we’re in a place, we’re really not?
This is by no means easy. It takes courage to look at oneself honestly and accept that as much as we want to be at a certain skill level, we’re not. As much as we want to love someone to the extent they love us or vise versa, we don’t. As much as we want to be 5 pounds lighter than we actually are…
I realized through my acne debacle and other instances in life, however, that when I actually take an honest look in the mirror, it is incredibly freeing. I can actually do something to achieve my dreams and goals, rather than hiding behind denial.
I’ve slowly come to accept that I will most likely never have the skin I did before I left for Ningyuan. Even with all the laser treatments, creams, and facials, there is still some residual scaring, but it’s okay. When I look in the mirror, I still see the acne and scaring, but I also see my face as a whole, my eyes, and hair. I see me, and sometimes, I even catch a smile.