July 26, 2011

We all have one

Everyone has something they don't like about themselves. Whether it's weight, height, size of different body parts, hair type, etc, everyone has something to complain about. It is easy to compare ourselves to others and wish for whatever they have that we don't.

I started at a young age to try to accept certain things about myself. My curly hair for example. Everyone was complaining about their hair when I was a preteen, straight haired girls in particular. Since I have curly hair, I decided it was best to just love it. A lot of people want what I have, I have it already, and it fits my personality (I'm pretty low maintenance and curly hair is easy to just wash and leave alone). So, I embrace my curly hair and try not to complain too much about frizzy days!

But when I think about the number one on my list of complaints about myself, it has to be my skin.

First, how white it is. I got made fun of for it (more as a kid than now, though people still comment on my "glow" at the beach) and I had to spend a lot of time applying sunscreen, remembering to bring a hat and cover up anytime I would be in the sun, searching for shade or bringing tents and umbrellas to the beach, etc. I've learned to love my whiteness for it's good qualities: it's softer than a lot of other people's skin, I don't (and probably won't) have many wrinkles and it makes me look younger. My mom is close to 60 but doesn't look it at all, partially because she took care of her delicate white skin!

Second, and related to the whiteness, is my heightened proclivity for skin cancer. Burns were enough incentive to wear gallons of sunscreen, but skin cancer is an even bigger deal. At 19 my dermatologist found a small freckle on my arm (that had been there for years) and set it up for a biopsy. It was precancerous so the freckle and all the skin around it had to be removed. Two day surgeries, 10 stitches   and a giant scar resulted. Now I have to continue to be on the lookout for any other suspicious freckles.

Third, a host of not life threatening but very annoying and often embarrassing skin ailments. It started with acne when I was a teenager, and that acne has never fully gone away. Why doesn't anyone ever tell you that some kids don't outgrow their acne? Then came dandruff/dry scalp/whatever they want to call it to make it sounds less gross. I've tried plenty of stuff for it, but I still itch and get broken skin and flakes from my scalp. I did just hear that coconut oil can help, so that's the next thing to try. As I  got a little older, I started getting red spots on the back of my arms, then on my legs. They don't go away either but I think they are kind of related to dry skin. Again, nothing seems to be able to get rid of it. In the last few years I've added a new ailment: psoriasis, or eczema, not sure what to call it. It started with peeling on my nose like I had a sunburn, but it never stopped peeling. Now I have dry, itchy, flaky patches on the sides of my nose, my eyebrows and hairline. And they continue to take up more space. I keep thinking, "Why the face?!?!" If I had to have it, why in one of the most visible places on my body?

I haven't reached my acceptance phase for this yet. I do OK at letting it be and not obsessing over it, but it does bother me. Some of it is kind of painful at times and I worry that as it gets worse I may eventually be some kind of leper. I hope not. But, through it all I try to keep in mind that everyone has something about themselves they don't like. Even if they seem perfect. And really these "problem areas" can be a good thing. If we were all perfect, then we'd get way too proud and self absorbed. The people who are physically closest to perfect are usually the ones who are behaviorally closest to devils! And I know that isn't what I want to be! Hopefully I can get to the point of concentrating so much on making my internal qualities stronger, and on doing what is best for others instead of focusing on myself, that I won't even notice my flaws anymore.

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