Self-love, overcoming insecurities, and finding confidence in your own skin has been a struggle for myself and many. Over the course of my life, I’ve been through a rollercoaster of finding self-love and facing self-hatred. A rollercoaster that is still ongoing. I’ve always wondered how people around me could be confident in their own skin and walk so freely knowing that their imperfections and differences were looked past. That was until I realized that we all have flaws that we carry, no matter how big or small. We just hide our insecurities differently.
Being alone and feeling the lowest about myself began in grade 9. Going to a new school for the first time in ten years, especially a place where I knew no one was a struggle in itself. Truth be told, I was never the most open and outgoing person at first meeting and always relied on others speaking to me first. My first few months of high school were difficult seeing as I had no friends from middle school or elementary school to hang out with in this new environment (I just had to be the unique kid and go to a high school completely different from my peers).
I also started facing every teenagers’ nightmare: acne (yay!). Having bad skin when I was on a roll with a good skin care regime was probably the most depreciating thing I faced confidence-wise (and I know a lot of you can relate). Discovering makeup, heavy duty concealers and Youtube beauty gurus became my escape for hiding my insecurities. Whenever people at school would talk to me I would always look down or avoid eye contact because my insecurities outweighed wanting to make friends. Let’s just say it wasn’t until November when I started putting those insecurities aside and started opening up more. Having acne made me feel alone and quite isolated for a majority of high school as everyone else seemed to have it easier with clean and clear skin. I avoided doing a lot of things in high school due to hating my own skin. I skipped pool parties because I didn’t want to go in the pool without makeup on. I frequently told my friends I couldn’t hang out with them in the summer because I didn’t want to sweat the foundation off my face. I avoided going to Sephora or MAC to get my makeup done for special occasions such as semi-formal because I didn’t want the makeup artist to judge my poor skin.
Breakouts may be the worst but it wasn’t just acne that stopped me from being confident in high school. You see, acne has a knack for leaving deep scars and dark marks after they leave your face and if you’re as pale as me, you’ll understand that those marks take forever to go away. It wasn’t until grade 11 when my skin started acting right again. After multiple trips to the dermatologist, a crap ton of topical creams, and two rounds of Accutane, things finally started looking right. Not to say that I don’t get an occasional pimple here and there, but things got manageable. Don’t get me wrong, my skin is still not perfect and I still reach for foundation here and there, but I’m finally in a place where I can go outside without makeup and still feel good about my skin. It got to a point in my life where I just said, “f*ck it, if other people with skin issues can go out everyday au natural then so can I,” because, after years of hating my skin, I deserved it.
At the end of grade 12, after graduation, I got a handwritten letter from myself that I forgot I wrote back in grade 9. Back then, my grade 9 science teacher made us write letters to our future selves, a reflection throughout high school. Now, I’m not one to get super emotional over sentimental things but something about the letter I wrote to myself made me tear up more than leaving my high school life behind. At the end of my letter to my future self, I wrote ‘future self, whatever you choose, make sure you’re happy and be glad about that decision.’ Now this statement has multiple meanings other than just choosing and finding confidence in my own skin. I graduated as an Ontario scholar, a future Western Mustang, and an IB Diploma graduate. It was then when I realized that life can be beautiful outside your own appearance.
High school in itself was not only a journey of finding my career interest, completing the difficult work of my specialized program, and finding friends that I’ll cherish forever but finding the confidence I had lost before it all started. Now as a first-year university student, I realized that life is too short to hate your appearance and comparing yourself to others is not worth the time and headache. Beauty is something we all have and our flaws shouldn’t stop us from living life to its fullest.