I’m 26, I Still Have Acne, and I’m Glad I Do


About a week ago, I went to a studio to appear on camera. A few minutes before I was scheduled to go, the studio’s makeup artist sat me down and prepped me for the segment. Now, I’ve never wore makeup in my life at that point so I really didn’t know what to expect. As she was cleaning my face (I think?), she asked me, “How long have you had acne?”

“Ohh man… I’ve had it for a while now. Actually, it’s kind of weird. My acne didn’t explode until my senior year of college.”
“Wow. Really?”
“Oh yeah. It was horrible. I guess I was just one of the lucky ones.”

She laughed at my joke. (Thank God.) But then I added more.

“But I’m kinda glad I do. Like, it taught me to stay grounded and not rely so much on my exterior for my happiness.”
That really resonated with her. “Are you religious?” she asked.
“No not really.”
“Not to dig or anything. Like, I’m a Catholic. But it just seems like something who has faith would say.”
“Oh well, I mean I believe in God… but just not in the way most people believe.”
“Really? How so?”
[Religious discussion omitted, haha.]
“I guess it’s more of a Zen/Stoic way of thinking,” I said.

We ended up having a thought-provoking and — at times — hilarious conversation and it got me thinking: it’s been years since I first wrote about my acne — maybe it was time to revisit it. Why?

Because I still believe it.

This might sound fucking crazy, but I’m glad I don’t have a “clear” face. Even to this day, I still get pimples. (Sometimes, yes, they still bleed.) But I appreciate it. I respect. I see the usefulness of it.

It constantly anchors me to reality. It pulls me away from pride and superficial thoughts. It reminds me that it’s not what’s on a person face that counts, but what’s inside. There’s nothing to hide. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. The world is not perfect, nor should you want it or demand it to be.

As an aspiring Stoic, I employ these oddities to (hopefully) become a better person. And as a personal trainer and fitness writer, I focus so much on the exterior — how to lose belly fat, how to build your chest, how to get a six-pack, etc. — that I need to constantly kill my need to be attractive.

There’s a wonderful Chinese proverb that encapsulates what we should truly believe:

All that is beautiful is not good. But all that is good is beautiful.

Having acne reminds me of that.


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