I have an embarrassing secret. Although, if you’ve ever met me, it’s not so much of a secret, since you can see it all over my face.
I have acne. And I’m 25.
Ever since I was 13, I had a face full of little red bumps, causing me to sit in the back of the classroom, hide my face behind long, untrimmed hair, and cake on makeup throughout all four years of high school. I’ve never known how it feels to wake up and go to school or work without a face full of foundation.
As I grew throughout college, I started to notice it less, though I still kept foundation in my purse for any possible acne attack scenario (I’m not actually sure what one of those might have been. I guess you could say I was a bit paranoid). I tried to do something about it, but nothing seemed to work.
I tried Proactiv. Nada (though I’m sure it worked wonders for Katie Perry).
I tried exercise. I lost a couple pounds, but it seemed the red bumps were wont to stay.
I tried switching up my facewash. Only brought on drier skin and now it wasn’t just acne, it was itchy acne.
I even tried some diet changes, namely eliminating dairy and processed foods. That worked a bit, but I still don’t have the silky smooth Sophia Loren complexion that I’m dying for.
So what’s a girl to do?
*pause for dramatic effect*
I’m trying acupuncture.
So, if you’ve ever met me, you know that I’m terrified of needles. Like, full-on, horror-film-screaming, panic-inducing, awful fear of needles. So what am I going to allow a small Asian woman named Serena to poke me with literally hundreds of them?
Because my mantra this week is to be fearless.
Have you ever wanted to do something but none of your friends were available to do it and so you just sat idly by, bummed that you couldn’t take advantage of it? Have you ever wanted to try, say, sky diving, but been too afraid of all the “what ifs” of it all? Well, I’m tired of NOT doing things because I don’t have anyone to do them with. I’m giving fear the ol’ heave ho, and instead I’m going to try some things that I wouldn’t have before this week because I was a little too scared. How can you convince yourself to kick fear in the pants?
1. Go somewhere by yourself. I’ve done this at swanky wine bars, museums, art exhibitions, even restaurants. Sometimes, the biggest fears that we have stem from being alone. Why? As Michelle Pfeiffer so poignantly put in White Oleander “Loneliness is the human condition.” However, once you realize that being alone is okay and even enjoyable (you don’t have to wait for anyone to go to the bathroom, you can stop for lunch whenever you want, you can sit and stare at the same dang painting for two hours if you choose), your comfort zone expands. Being alone means you have to be able to be comfortable with yourself. And sometimes that is the first step to being comfortable with other people.
2. Travel. I don’t mean book a plane ticket to Bora Bora. Get outside of your neighborhood. Go to Queens if you live in Murray Hill. Drive three towns over and see what the people there are like. Round up the girlfriends and take a road trip to a bed and breakfast two hours away. Not only to tell yourself that you’ve seen a new place, but so that you can see how OTHER people live. Being in a place that is unfamiliar to you is a great way to test the boundaries of your comfort zone and also to learn how other people view the world and to open your own mind a bit. Otherwise, I’d never know that in the southern Caribbean, it’s customary that YOU take OTHER PEOPLE out to dinner on your birthday instead of the other way around (also, don’t go to the southern Caribbean on your birthday like I did.)
3. Ask questions. Fear often stems from the unknown. But when you ask questions, you receive more information and you can make better judgment calls about WHY you are actually afraid to do something.
4. Play the “what if” game. Okay, this one is fun and a game I play all the time with myself. Pretend you are talking to a two year old. Identify the thing that you want to do and ask yourself why you’re afraid to do it in the first place. Then, follow each fear that you bring up with a “what if?” sentence and try to answer it for yourself. See below:
I want to try acupuncture. But what if the needles hurt me? Well, I’ve been in pain before, I can try to breathe through it. But what if my body starts to freeze up? Then I’ll tell the acupuncturist that I’m not feeling well. But what if it doesn’t work? Then I’ll know that and don’t have to go again.
Sometimes, identifying the roots of our fears is all that it takes for us to overcome them.
Okay it’s your turn. How are you guys going to bust out the walls of your comfort zones this week?