What we talk about when we talk about adult acne

Photo credit: Genista

Photo credit: Genista

It gets better, they said. Just wait. Soon it will all make sense. Soon your hips will stop widening, your jaw and nose will grow in equal pace, you’ll understand bra sizes and stop being embarrassed when you buy tampons.

Soon you’ll understand how wonderful it is to be an adult, to choose your own breakfast and buy your own poptarts, if that’s what you want.

Chase your dreams, they said. Soon you’ll be achieving them. Follow your heart. Soon you’ll be making great decisions all the time and relationships will be easier and it will all make sense. Everything will make sense, even the fact that we live on one of 200 billion planets in our galaxy and that the universe is infinite, truly infinite.

And acne – soon the acne will stop. You won’t have to spend 121 hours every year scrutinizing your pores, determining which ones deserve to be squeezed and which ones must ripen.  You won’t be jealous of the girls in the Clean & Clear commercials or spend significant amounts of time imagining where you would send all the pus in your body if you could choose to just have one perpetual pimple.

And I won’t say I was lied to. I won’t say that I was deceived by those people 18+ in my life who knew exactly what was coming to me. I won’t say I was deliberately led to believe in a fantasy no more real than sea monkeys or the first moon landing.

I believed what I wanted to believe – I pieced together the various messages of my childhood and adolescence and came to believe that once I turned 22 or 23, I would have it all figured out. I – and everyone else – would be living our dreams, wearing clothes that fit and laughing together while eating pasta at a restaurant. And our skin would be clear. It would be completely clear, with not a zit, pimple, blackhead, whitehead, subterranean or squirter to have blemished it in many many years.

Photo credit: Garrette

Photo credit: Garrette

So when we talk about adult acne, we talk about the cruel reality of adulthood, the fact that we still don’t have the answers and know we may never have them. We talk about the fact that relationships are still confusing. We talk about how social media and technology has let us down in some unnamable way, and the despair, apathy, or vague outrage that we feel when we read about politics and the NSA and privacy and drones and the daily body count in Syria. We talk about wanting more in our lives, wanting clear skin, wanting a clear vision.

They told us to follow our dreams but never said that almost everything would be put in the way of that. They told us to make

a difference, but they didn’t say that society often villainizes or kills those who try. They promised clear skin, and still I have blemishes, and now I pay for my own face wash.

They didn’t tell us, but that’s okay. They probably didn’t know what they were doing. Now that we know more of the truth, we can move on, complain together about our acne, and get ish done.

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7 thoughts on “What we talk about when we talk about adult acne

  1. victoree says:

    On the movie “Logan’s Run” society lied to its people too. People did not “renew”. Media and other fine purveyors of information in this society–including our dear mums–sort of forgot to tell us about menopause and all the other stuff that happens to people who managed to escape the teens alive. But having survived it, I can testify that there is hope. The hormone warfare will end.

  2. Good luck! I’m 48 years old and still get the occasional outbreak. I was promised long-lasting clearface….I’ve not been given that.

  3. Yep they feed us with fairy tales in the hope that we never find out the truth

  4. tomwisk says:

    Em, welcome aboard. Trust me, it does get better.

  5. Salami says:

    Way to truth-tell, Drevpot.

    Face wash doesn’t do much for me. Adult acne helps keep my vanity in check. I used to hate it, but now I realize its something that keeps me humble, and I’m grateful. I think I’d be a real asshole without it.

    Glad you’re posting again. I don’t read newspapers so you’re the closest thing I have to a connection to the international sphere. Syria? Huh?

    (That was a joke. Maybe in poor taste. Okay, I’ll stop now.)

  6. Love how you tied this all together… and the single perpetual pimple was hilarious!

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