I Have Cystic Acne, and I Am Beautiful

I Have Cystic Acne, And I am Beautiful Just The Way I Am

I will repeat this to myself until I believe it.


I have dealt with acne since the seventh grade.

In the beginning, I chalked it up to typical puberty problems, but my sophomore year of high school, after the inflammation became more than any over-the-counter acne wash could control, I set out to get an appointment with a dermatologist.

From then on I launched into taking pill after pill and spreading medicated creams on face day and night to try to make my face clear up. Of course, every pill presents new side effects. Most topical medications make your face so dry it burns and peels. You try to cool it down with moisturizer, but when you buy the wrong kind, it also sets your face on fire. Pills can help you make a ton of progress, but they also come with downsides.

I once went to a dermatologist that prescribed me with this fun little pill that would block the hormone that made acne. I thought to myself, "Wow this sounds like just what I need." Then, it screwed up my hormones so much I had three periods in six weeks and I dropped ten pounds. While some people would love to drop weight with a pill, being on the skinnier side, it wasn't healthy for me to be losing weight that quickly. When I went back to the dermatologist to express my concerns, he couldn't see why any of this was a problem.

He asked me multiple times if I was sure that I wanted to quit, and I wanted to shout, "NO UTERUS, NO OPINION!"

I love wearing makeup, but I really can't anymore without knowing that the next day my face will be broken out in painful cystic pimples. I used to never leave the house without makeup.

Sometimes, I put on outfits and I think to myself, "You know what would go great with this outfit? Clear skin."

When I look in the mirror from far away, I feel beautiful, but the closer I get to my reflection the more imperfection I see. Very seldom do I post an Instagram photo without taking it through my photo editing app to brush out the parts of my skin that I deem unworthy to grace the face of the internet.

At the end of last semester, I finally saw results with a new medicine I was on. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the antibiotic, this prescription wasn't made to be taken for an extended period of time, so my derm took me off it. Then, after the stress of the spring semester settled in, my face was ablaze once again.

Upon returning to the office once, I finally decided it was time to go on Accutane. This medication is something I have been trying to stay as far away from as possible, but it is a last resort, and if I don't take it my scarring could keep increasing to the point where it won't be reversible. This really knocked me down. I finally thought I had beat this awful thing, but really it was only taking a slight breather before it reared its ugly head once again.

While my acne is annoying — often takes a good day and turns it into a bad one — I really shouldn't let it. My acne has fluctuated so much over the past five years that more than ever I am starting to realize that this is just a part of my journey. There will be times when it will be great, and there will be times that it will be rudely intruding into my life. But, I want to strive to develop a new perception of myself.

I do not want to let the fact that my skin doesn't pass our culture's standards of beauty, determine how I feel about my self-worth. Obviously, this is going to take some time, and I am still going to try my hardest to take care of my skin because cystic pimples hurt so much. But at the end of the day, I want people to remember me for the mark I leave on the world, not by the marks on my face. I want to take on situations with courage and confidence. I want to spread kindness and make others laugh. I want to radiate beauty from the inside out.

I refuse to let my acne hold me back from doing any of these things.

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20 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

Tattoos with meaning you can't deny.

It's tough to find perfect tattoos with meaning.

You probably want something permanent on your body to mean something deeply, but how do you choose a tattoo that will still be significant in 5, 10, 15, or 50 years? Over time, tattoos have lost much of their stigma and many people consider them a form of art, but it's still possible to get a tattoo you regret.

So here are 20 tattoos you can't go wrong with. Each tattoo has its own unique meaning, but don't blame me if you still have to deal with questions that everyone with a tattoo is tired of hearing!

SEE RELATED: "Please Stop Asking What My Tattoos Mean"

1. A semicolon indicates a pause in a sentence but does not end. Sometimes it seems like you may have stopped, but you choose to continue on.

2. "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."

3. Top symbol: unclosed delta symbol which represents open to change. Bottom symbol: strategy.

4. "There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."

5. Viking symbol meaning "create your own reality."

6. Greek symbol of Inguz: Where there's a will, there's a way.

7. Psalm 18:33 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."

8. 'Ohm' tattoo that represents 4 different states of consciousness and a world of illusion: waking (jagrat), dreaming (swapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendental state (turiya) and world of illusion (maya).

9. Alchemy: symbolizes copper, means love, balance, feminine beauty, and artistic creativity.

10. The Greek word “Meraki" means to do something with soul, passion, love, and creativity or to put yourself into whatever you do.

11. Malin (Skövde, Sweden) – you have to face setbacks to be able to go forward.

12. Symbol meaning "thief" from "The Hobbit." It was the rune Gandalf etched into Bilbo's door so the dwarves could find his house.

13. “Lux in tenebris" means “light in darkness."

14. Anchor Tattoo: symbolizing strength and stability, something (or someone) who holds you in place, and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.

15."Ad Maiora" is translated literally as “Towards greater things." It is a formula of greeting used to wish more success in life, career or love.

16. A glyph means “explore." It was meant as a reminder for me to never stop exploring.

17. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam," meaning roughly, "Either I shall find a way, or I will make one."

18. Lotus Flower. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower's first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

19. The zen (or ensō) circle to me represents enlightenment, the universe and the strength we all have inside of us.

20. Two meanings. The moon affirms life. It looks as if it is constantly changing. Can remind us of the inconsistency of life. It also symbolizes the continuous circular nature of time and even karma.

SEE ALSO: Sorry That You're Offended, But I Won't Apologize For My Tattoos

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Taking Time For Yourself Is Nothing To Feel Guilty About, It's Healthy

Your emotional health should be your utmost priority — and you deserve to be in good emotional health.


Renowned Sōtō Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki once said that: "We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves." We've often been told the opposite, however. We've been told that our worth is dependent on what we can do for others and that our existence itself is meant for the advancement of society. There is no place within our culture to truly exist with ourselves. The parts of our culture that claim to value self-love and self-care tend to commodify it in the form of relaxation products and personal development products — albeit helpful at times but mostly meant to addict us without true benefit to our inner selves.

As a young student, I talked with an orthopedic surgeon — a very overworked, ambitious woman — who told me to learn how to make it in the long haul, whether in my personal, interpersonal, or career life. You had to learn to enjoy yourself and find inner peace along the way. Because there would come a time, she said, when I would become guilty to take time for myself and forget what it's like to really enjoy life. Unfortunately, I made it to that point — I worked and worked and worked until I finally burned myself out. That's when I had to make certain changes in my life to understand how I got to that point and where I needed to go from there.

In the midst of our grand ambitions, it's easy to either go all in or all out. Either to give your entire self to a certain end or give nothing at all. I've been very much guilty of ending up on both ends of the spectrum — I would either devote all my time to writing/school or hit a roadblock and give it all up for a while. It felt like the value of my life was predicated on success, whatever that meant, in terms of contributing more and more and achieving more and more. It's never, ever enough, however. No matter what you achieve, there will always be a million more things on your to-do list. Whatever you triumph over, there will always be a million more roadblocks in your path.

The answer for me was to learn how to exist with myself, how to exist with other people, how to exist amidst all the dreams I had for the future, but also in the present moment where all my past dreams had come to fruition. Sometimes I would dive too deep into myself, and lose myself in thought, as noted in Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." But I learned to participate fully, each moment to moment not necessarily enjoyable, but I find enjoyable moments each day with my friends, dog, boyfriend, and myself alone with a book or a pen.

Oftentimes as a crisis counselor, I am asked the questions: What's the point? Why am I here? What is there to look forward to? It's hard for me to precisely answer that question because, frankly, no one has anyone answer. But here's an answer that I believe in, born of taking time for ourselves: we live to feel the hope for happiness again. We live for the moments of joy, contentment, relaxation, excitement, pleasure, love, happiness, everything. We live to experience and to find each other. We live on because each new moment brings a surprise. There are many, many good moments in the future for all of us, even amongst the bad.

It's impossible to really experience life, however, if we're unable to take time to ourselves. That's one of my greatest fears, actually, that life will pass me by and I won't be able to experience each day as a full and complete miracle. There's something lost when everyone else gains from commodifying all aspects of our lives. Are you going to keep living for everyone else, or will you learn to exist for yourself? Do you owe the world your entire self, or can you take back at least some of yourself right now? Is it selfish to feel happy and not only to suffer?

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