Not so long ago, I was looking forward to entering my twenties.
After all, it is the decade of childhood fantasies. In a game of “MASH” (you know, that one game that would determine your entire future – which of your first grade classmates would be your husband, what car you would drive, the number of kids you’ll have, your career, where you and your family will live, and, of course, whether or not you’ll live in a mansion-apartment-shack-or house), the stakes were high.
This game always consisted of tiny humans assuming by the time they hit the big two-zero, life will be at its highest apex, its greatest peak.
As a young child, I would fantasize about the freedom only a twenty-something knew. I felt like Rapunzel from Tangled, wondering, “When will my life begin?” in a melodramatic musical account of my boredom.
As a slightly older child, I wanted to be done with school, get married, begin my career and have all of my wildest dreams come true. I wanted to say goodbye to the drama of Teendom, the need to stay current and pretending that binging all things wasn’t affecting my health.
I was ready to leave many things behind, but at the top of the list was, of course, pimples. These little red demons had been periodically haunting my face for years.
They’d pop up juuuuust when I needed them not to be there: Right before a presentation, a date, a formal event, or a performance. Their timing was impeccable. And, despite my greatest efforts of self-restraint, I simply could not leave them alone. Let’s not pretend I am the only one with this issue. You know, the tiny little sucker rears its ugly head and you pick and prod at it in the mirror until you’ve got a nice size wound gracing your face.
There are a lot of terrible things about being a teenager but let’s be honest, pimples are the worst. These horrible bumps turn a beautiful face into a war scene. I am convinced that there is no way to be confident when you have a zit the size of Mount Rushmore enlarging by the minute on your once smooth cheek. When you can see people staring at it and wondering, “Yikes. Can I catch that?” How are you supposed to feel easy, breezy, beautiful? My teenage self would stare into the mirror and dream of a mature, twenty-something face, clear of these miseries.
But alas, I am currently almost halfway through my twenties, and the little warriors are still rising up for battle. Where do they come from? I ask. Why are they still here? I wonder. Will they ever go away? I fear.
In the past, I have dealt with evil’s unfortunate arrival by changing skincare routines, adjusting my diet, applying concealer and moving forward. But a few days before my wedding, when I saw them appear on my almost Mrs. face, I just couldn’t believe it. How in the world am I still getting these?! I was furious.
There is a myth about entering your twenties that you’ll stop getting pimples. Pimples, of course, meaning literal pimples and serving as a metaphor for all of the terrible trials of Teendom.
We operate under an illusion that we will have it all figured out the minute we don’t have “teen” attached to the last syllable of our age. Supposedly, we will land a great job, gain mental stability, maneuver with a general sense of direction and assuredness, no longer have guy trouble, etc., etc.
The reality is, however, our twenties are yet another period of endless transition. We are almost always moving jobs, apartments and dreams. Plus, for the first time, we are really settling into who we are. It is a beautiful stage of life, but I’m not sure it is any easier than the previous, nor that any decade really will ever be. In each new season of this time we have on earth, there is something to learn.
It is perpetually a time to grow, and you are just grown enough to handle the new height.
I have accepted that even when I eat well and take care of my skin, sometimes, out of nowhere, I’ll see a pimple or perhaps many.
I think when we let go of the illusion that life should be easy and as long as we do all the right things, it will be perfect, we free ourselves to accept the blemishes.
To wear them proudly. In fact, we free ourselves to let go of the goal of perfection entirely. We allow ourselves to be okay with a few marks on our skin.
We begin to see our twenties for what they are: A time of beautiful imperfection.