Quarantina: Letting Go of Control

Quarantina: Letting Go of Control

Although it’s easy to believe that more control in life will bring you happiness, its not really the case. I think attempting to have control will end up bringing you more unhappiness and disappointment.

If only control was more simple. Control comes in a variety of ways, one of which is pessimistic attitude and beliefs. Have you ever thought like this? I am victim to expecting the worse so I don’t get my hopes up. A negative mindset is an attempt to prevent disappointment; yet, most people only end up hurting themselves.

Disappointment is apart of life. We learn from it. We grow from it. It’s the “uncomfortable-ness” of disappointment that helps us grow.

Buddhism teachings say desire is the root of all suffering. Basically, this means that when we want something we don’t have we have desire, and when we don’t get what we want, we experience suffering, this lack of control.

I’ve learned that as I have tried to control my skin, I end up taking more steps back. My battle with acne has trained me to always think about the future. I used to be desperate for control over my skin. I used to constantly live in fear about my acne and what people thought of me. I was so concerned with everything I couldn’t control and this only ended up making my skin worse and was proven detrimental to my mental health.

Once I let my skin run its course and do its worse I noticed a change in myself. I stopped worrying as much about what others thought about me. I wasn’t as controlling over my space. I wasn’t as compulsive. I became a better friend and roommate. I was able to put other’s feelings before my own.

So is the only solution to letting go accepting lack of control? Is contentment only available by ” live and let live? ” I don’t think so. I think it’s normal to worry. It’s normal to have anxiety. We’re human, we are wired to be social so it’s in our genes to want to control our perception to others.

I believe the solution is to remind yourself to be present. Staying grounded is so subjective. Sometimes meditating works or it’s taking a walk outside. What works best for me is writing down what I am grateful for and something today that made me happy. Although this may seem simple, its something I overlook all the time, and creating this list reminds me to stay in the present moment.

Striving forward isn’t easy. Sometimes you need to take steps back to move even further towards your greatness. I feel that now I am letting go. I am making small strides to take care of myself and being present. Lately, I have been experiencing emotions and thoughts that take me back to a time when I was in a more negative mental and physical space and I’ve learned that it’s ok. Since I have been letting go of my control I am working on parts of myself I never knew were holding me back. Walking towards a dark place is hard. Remind yourself to live in the present and what is meant to be, will be and I promise this will contribute to more happiness for you!

Quarantina: Thoughts of Reflection

Quarantina: Thoughts of Reflection

Being honest is not always easy. But being honest with yourself, well that can be even harder! Lately I have been reflecting on my life this past year and the decisions I have made: both good and bad. Of course, I make mistakes and I have regrets, but is there an easy way to forget about it and move on? It doesn’t feel like it right now, but I know with time it will be easier.

As we all sit at home, in hopes to flatten the curve, I have noticed this disruption to my routine has surfaced emotions I have withheld for months. Taking care of our mental health now is essential. The additional uncertainty and stress of this global outbreak has made me reflect and I have asked myself a question: do I want to go back to the normalcy I had before the pandemic or do I want to make a positive change in the right direction? Was my life even in the right direction before? This has made me take a deep look inward and be honest with myself.

I have been struggling with this time at home—and that’s ok. Around the world is currently in this state too. This is an unprecedented time for us all and it’s ok to not be ok. I have found this time to not just be physically challenging, but emotionally.

I have been on a long emotional journey since the end of 2018, with significant events in my personal life to my accutane journey, I am finally sitting with it all, here in April 2020. I question some of my decisions, and even regret some of them. But, I have realized I needed to make these mistakes to grow, to become more aware, to become the person I am supposed to be.

Through our experiences we are able to learn and figure out who we are and what’s important to us. Although I may cringe at the thought of some (alright a lot) of my past experiences, I know I had to have them in order to realize what I now know.

So if you are also reflecting, cringing, and realizing, you’re not alone. We’re human. We’re given the beauty of life; yet, what is live without learning through living?

What Beauty Means to Me

What Beauty Means to Me

My passion for beauty sparked at a young age. I grew up going to the Korean-Styled-Spa, the “Jjimjilbang,” with my mom. At the sauna, I would see ladies taking such thorough care of their skin: soaking in water infused with herbs, sweating in hot saunas, enduring two-hour body scrubs followed by moisturizing with whole milk and oil, shaving cucumber to make a DIY facial, and practicing multi-step skincare routines (the original #kbeauty 10-step routines). Being half-Korean, I learned from my mom the importance of taking care of your skin. Even though I did not enjoy the body scrubs when I was younger, or going into hot and dry saunas, I really appreciate that my mom taught me the value of beauty at a young age which has blossomed into my passion. 

I began experimenting with makeup when I was ten-years-old. I was a competitive dancer and we had to wear makeup for our competitions. At first, my mom would do my makeup and after watching her so many times, I learned how to do it myself and enjoyed the process. I loved how even a little bit of mascara changed my mood. Makeup has become an art form. Today, I use makeup to enhance my features and give me an extra boost of confidence throughout the course of my day. My beauty routine has evolved from waking up early to spend extra-time hiding my imperfections and doing a full-eye look to distract from the acne on my face. Today, I use makeup as a tool, not for necessary means but to enhance my natural facial features. 

Over the years, I realized my beauty routine has become my meditation. Taking care of my skin and body helps calm my mind and my anxiety. The stress of our modern lives can prevent us from connecting with ourselves, we can put such a focus on everyone and neglect our own wellbeing. My beauty routine allows me to connect with my body every morning and night and once I finish I am in such a peaceful state. My beauty routine puts me in a positive mindset for the day and makes me feel confident. Since I have realized this form of self-care works best for me, my passion for beauty evolved into enthusiasm for health and wellness. Today, I utilize my beauty routine as the basis of my wellness. Once I wash my face, hydrate, apply sunscreen, and a touch of makeup, I feel like I can conquer anything. 

As I got older I realized beauty is more than just makeup and skincare. Beauty is not just characteristics or aesthetics, but accepting yourself for everything you are, even your flaws, because that’s what makes you, you. What makes us different is what makes us unique, enhancing our beauty. Beauty to me is being kind to others, having a positive outlook, and self-confidence to know you are beautiful with or without any makeup on. 

My personal definition of beauty has shaped my relationship with skincare and makeup. Once I realized beauty comes from within, I learned how to appreciate myself and this drove my life in a positive direction. At first, I let my acne hinder my outlook and relationship with my body, but I learned to accept my flaws and embrace them, turning it into a learning experience that has changed my life for the better. 

My Acne Story

My Acne Story

Insight into my skin story and how I managed the mental, emotional, and physical side effects while not letting it deteriorate my self-worth. From my first pimple to when I began Accutane.

I remember my first breakout. I was in the fifth grade and a boy came up to me and said “what’s on your face?” From that moment I became insecure about my skin. To start breaking out from such a young age really impacted the relationship I had with my body. 

Fast forward to seventh grade, middle school in the States,  I was continuing my struggle with acne but it reached a new level. I was breaking out to the point where I had to go to a Dermatologist. I was prescribed a topical treatment and chemical peel pads to use nightly. These products were extremely harsh on my sensitive young skin. My dermatologist at the time recommended microdermabrasion treatments, which caused my skin to peel uncontrollably, not the type of complexion that helps a seventh-grader boost their confidence. 

The following year my acne did not improve and my mother knew that this dermatologist’s approach to treating my acne was not right for me. I decided to go to a prestigious New York City-based dermatologist, whose identity will remain anonymous to protect their identity. After a blood test, the records showed that I had high cortisol and testosterone levels, leading to an increase in oil production in my skin and making me break out. I was prescribed an oral medication called Spironolactone, which is typically used to treat high blood pressure. I was finally seeing results after a few weeks on Spironolactone. How this medication works is that it’s an androgen blocker, which minimizes the number of androgen hormones by blocking the receptors that bind with Testosterone since I was tested for a higher amount of testosterone compared to estrogen in my body — typical for thirteen-year-olds going through puberty. Although I finally had the clear skin I dreamed of, this medication made me feel sad often and was disrupting my menstrual cycle. 

By the time I was in high school my basic plan of attack for my skin was getting weekly facials. My mom, of Korean descent, believed that going to weekly facials would help control my skin and it did help my skin calm down. I also was prescribed antibiotics, tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline, and clindamycin, all of which helped clear my skin but was ruining my gut health. Come senior year I knew I needed a more permanent solution since being on antibiotics for long periods of time is terrible for your gut and microbiome, plus I would be going to college soon and would be unable to go to my weekly facials. So I was prescribed birth control to keep my skin in check. Luckily birth control balanced my hormones and I was finally living with clear skin, enjoying my life and not letting it hold me back. 

Then we took a detour. Up until last Fall, of 2018 I changed my method of birth control from the pill to a non-hormonal copper IUD and this was where I went wrong. October of 2018 my skin flared up again and I knew something was going on internally. I tried dieting, eliminated dairy from my diet and even went vegan! Nothing I tried even helped in the slightest. My skin continued to get worse so by the time January came I decided to go to an Endocrinologist to see what was going on internally. My Endocrinologist believed I was suffering from PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome, which impacts women with infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods and or an excess of male (androgen) levels. I was dealing with hair loss, acne, continuous yeast infections with the IUD, daily painful menstrual cramps, faint and dizziness. It was a lot for me, just a twenty-year-old to handle. I was not just struggling physically, my emotional health was deteriorating. My doctor advised me to take out my non-hormonal IUD and I was prescribed a birth control called Yasmin, known to help those with PCOS, although it unfortunately did not help. My acne became worse, actually severe and to the point that I didn’t even want to go to class. I became depressed and obsessed with my skin. I was so embarrassed to even look in the mirror and was no longer able to look people in the eyes. I hibernated and knew something needed to change. I then told my Endocrinologist I want to go back on my first form of birth control called Minestrin and hoped for the best. 

In March I reached my breaking point. I finally came to the point of going on Accutane. I tried every option, topical creams, chemical peels, antibiotics, spironolactone, weekly facials, non-hormonal IUD, dieting, and going vegan, yet it all was not enough. My dermatologist told me I was the perfect candidate for Accutane but the hardest part was having to wait the month to be approved by the iPledge program. Finally when the day came, April 1st, 2019, to begin my Accutane medication, I was completely overjoyed. 

Fast forward to today, a year later, I am currently acne-free. I have been on a long and arduous journey but I still would not change a thing. I have learned to listen to my body and nurture my heart and soul, not just my skin. I truly believe I was meant to get acne so I could learn to grow and lead with kindness and positivity.

Dealing with acne from a young age began the long and hard journey of self-love. I believe that my acne journey has impacted my mental health and emotional health. Acne is beyond a skin disease. Acne impacts more than your appearance and can take a major toll on one’s emotional health. How can a young woman cultivate confidence if all she wants is to hide her face from the world? Feeling blemished hurts and impacted the relationship I had with my body. I felt bad for the people around me and was in the never-ending cycle of embarrassment. It felt like the cycle would never end I came to the point of giving up, not smothering my face in makeup and just embracing what I was going through. I learned that the best source of healing for me was to have an outlet to express myself and share what I was going through with others. Thank you all for supporting me and embracing me.

I am so grateful for you all. Thank you for reading my story and allowing me to share my journey with you.

Xoxo, Christina