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December 2, 2020

“Have you Tried Washing your Face?”—A Message on Unwarranted Advice.

I have acne.

I’ve had acne since I was in junior high, and I am definitely well past the “puberty acne” phase of life. At some point, between then and now, it was better, almost completely gone. And at points it was so bad that I fantasized about ripping my face completely off. Dramatic? Yes. Overreaction? Probably. But, still, a very real feeling.

Now, I know that people have it worse than a few pimples on their face. I know that acne is normal, just stigmatized. However, regardless of the level of redness or number of acne on your face, we have all had a pimple, and we all know how it feels to walk around with it loud and proud on our face. It makes us want to cower inside, until it disappears.

Well, some of us don’t have that option. It’s chronic.

Insecurities are not logical; saying things like, “Oh, it’s just acne!” or “You’ll grow out of it eventually,” are not helpful. Hearing someone with one tiny, light-pink pimple act like their world is falling apart and complaining about the state of their skin has always been infuriating to me. Especially when those same people suggest things to you like, “Drink water, and just wash your face.”

The acne on my face is one of my biggest insecurities. I have tried absolutely everything: washing my face day and night; not washing it at all; washing it only at night; Proactive; countless cleansers (expensive and cheap); prescription creams; drinking 8,000 gallons of water in a day; cutting out milk; changing my pillowcase; masks; oils; anti-oil products—everything.

And, I still have it.

So, what does that leave me with? Trying to accept it? Learning to love it? Well, those things sound great, but that’s like trying to love stepping on a cactus in Crocs.

Okay, so, what’s the point? I have acne, so what? Well, since acceptance is a slow journey, I felt like making a comment on unwarranted advice while I wait for that to kick in.

When someone is complaining about something in their life, they might not be looking for your advice. In fact, that unwarranted advice is probably just going to piss them off. There is no need to fix everything for that person or tell them about that one time you had a pimple on the day of the prom. Instead, why not just listen to what they are saying?

When I complain about my acne, I am honestly just venting out my frustrations and, yeah, okay, sometimes I’m fishing for reassurance. I am not looking for someone to ask me: “Have you tried washing your face?”

This isn’t just specific to acne. This is something to consider when someone is opening up about anything.

There doesn’t need to a be a solution given in order for the conversation to be meaningful.

If someone came to you about their weight, saying something, like, “Have you tried working out?” would not be helpful. Or if someone opened up to you about their depression and you said, “Well, have you tried just being happy?” that would do more harm than good.

Chances are that person has tried a lot of things already: therapy, medications, going outside, exercise, or journaling. Rather than doling out a suggestion, try understanding them first.

The solution to anything that affects our lives doesn’t have a quick fix, and it definitely isn’t easy. Let’s let go of the mentality of constantly needing to hand out advice.

Let’s start supporting each other’s journey without inserting ourselves into it.

I have acne and, yes, I wash my face.


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