See it When You Believe It
By Liliana Colon
In this piece, I explore how a change in our mindset can influence our experience of reality.
Our face is our canvas through which we communicate to the world. We express our feelings through the movements of our mouths, our eyes, our noses. Our large assortment of emotions is communicated through frowns, smiles, furrowed brows, wide eyes. Our skin wrinkles on our forehead after years of stressing and fretting and overthinking. Our eyes widen in surprise and close tightly when we laugh at a funny joke. Our faces tell our unique story to those around us.
Advertisements of people with flawless, glowing skin permeate every space we enter. They smile with teeth as white as sheets of paper and skin as smooth as a baby’s. Older celebrities appear to have drunk from the fountain of youth. Their lifeless eyes stare straight ahead at the millions of people walking past them each day. They shape what we view as beautiful and acceptable. As a young teenager, I unconsciously began to equate these perfect faces with success and happiness.
Growing up is confusing and complicated. Hormones change and emotions fluctuate with them. As a young child, I was always comfortable in my skin, and I was not worried about what other children thought about me. However, as I entered high school and my body began to change, I started to notice some major changes to my face. The more I ate my favorite foods, which consisted of pizza, macaroni and cheese, and ice cream, my face would break out in red pimples. It was at this time that I also began to care about the opinions of my peers more than ever before.
It was in high school that I began to develop the habit of procrastinating on my homework assignments. I knew how to complete the work that was required and was perfectly capable of doing it. However I would wait until the last minute to complete my assignments. The same applies for my approach to dealing with my acne. My mother used to tell me that the food I was eating was contributing to my breakouts. She suggested I cut out dairy and gluten, but I wanted to feel in control of my life and so I rejected her advice. I continued to eat food that was clearly not agreeing with me for the next four years. I tried all types of facial washes and treatments but to no avail. I was procrastinating on finding a solution to my breakouts.
By the time I turned twenty I realized something needed to change. The combination of unhealthy food and face masks due to the pandemic had caused my skin to react extremely harshly and I began to get painful, cystic acne. I was entering adulthood yet still felt like I was stuck in the past. I slowly began to stop eating dairy and gluten. At first it was for one week and then the time kept extending. Slowly, my face began to feel calmer and more relaxed, the redness subsiding. The weeks passed and the pimples seemed to be fading. I began to breathe a sigh of relief.
One morning I awoke to a face filled with red, angry pimples. I stared at my face in the mirror and the red dots stared back, furious and angry at me. I was so frustrated I could have screamed. I was doing everything right so why was this still happening to me? My phone began to ring with a call from my mom and I rushed to the phone.
“Why is this happening to me? Why is my face this way? How do I even leave my room?” I cried.
Tears streamed down my face for the first time in a long time. Emotions that had long been held in spilled out and rushed down my face. The tears flowed like a waterfall, cascading down my cheeks and crashing onto the pillow that I lay on. Each drop was a mixture of anger, frustration, sadness, and criticism. I had been so angry at my body for so long.
After a little while, my mother asked me if I could believe that my skin would clear up.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” I replied with a laugh, the tears drying on my cheeks.
“See that’s just the problem,” my mother responded. “Your outlook is your problem. You must change the way you think about this issue. Change your mantra. You will see it when you believe it.”
It was as though those words were giving my body a warm hug. Once I embraced a more positive outlook about my breakouts, I began to appreciate my body more than I had ever before. Acne reflects what is going on inside our bodies. It highlights the issues that our bodies are dealing with that we cannot see. My acne helped me change the negative habits I was developing and think more deeply about what I was putting into my body. It forced me to confront my insecurities and I could not be more thankful for that.
I was inspired to write this piece after attending the Write Right Now w/ HMH: Procrastinators Welcome workshop. After this workshop, I realized that my procrastination habits were affecting my life beyond just my school work. I was procrastinating on helping myself grow and change. This piece helped me learn to appreciate my body and all that it does for me, something I am learning more and more to do. To write this essay, I jotted down all my feelings about my face and acne. I really drew inspiration from my own feelings and experiences. I also want to say thank you to my mentor, Vera Sirota, who always encourages me to follow and develop my ideas.
Liliana Colon is a sophomore college student currently living in Brooklyn, NYC. She made the decision to take a gap semester to further explore her interests. Her passion for writing and desire to create during this break led her to discover the Girls Write Now community. Liliana is a visual artist, musician and committed writer, and hopes to pursue these dreams. Liliana enjoys taking walks throughout the city and draws inspiration for her music and art through observing the world around her, particularly in nature.