Scars. We all have scars and we all hide them. Today I’ll share with you one of my biggest insecurities, as well as some steps to embrace your scars.

I confess that my insecurity is rather superficial. As deep as some of my thinking may be, at times I get down on myself in a petty way.

We have visible and invisible scars that leave imprints on our lives. Yet, scars tend to have one thing in common: shame. Shame comes when we lack acceptance of our imperfections. We often see ourselves as flawed and unworthy…of love, success, belonging, happiness, etc. We struggle to see ourselves as whole. You don’t have to look far to see how prevalent lack of self-worth is in our society.

The Scar That Makes Me Self-Conscious

I have my share of emotional scars. But it’s the physical scars that make me feel insecure. I’ve dealt with acne for a whopping 23 years of my life. Its severity has waned at times, but it has always been a part of my life.

I love being my most natural self. I feel best when I’m barefoot and braless. I have two gray hairs that I adore. Feeling free of societal concepts of beauty is what makes me feel alive and feminine. But then there’s my concealer…

My concealer has been my crutch for years to cover up pimples and scarring. I’ve tried multiple elimination diets, dermatologists, medications, and natural remedies, but little changed.

And when people ask you what’s wrong with your skin–you tend to want to hide it. So that’s what I did. I used to get anxious and sometimes angry when a boyfriend would watch me put on makeup. I wouldn’t crash at a friend’s if I didn’t have my beloved concealer to go to brunch the next day. I envied the “perfect skin” people I’d meet.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this idea in my head of people saying, “Melissa would be pretty…if just her skin…” Do we all have these inner imaginary voices?

Removing My Mask on the Camino de Santiago

I wore a little concealer on the first day of the Camino. But the next day, I awoke with a sense of simplicity, so my concealer stayed buried deep in my backpack.

I encountered many pilgrims that evening at the albergue. No one commented on my skin. They all asked about my knees.

A couple of days later, when I sent a bag of belongings away to lighten my load, my concealer and a couple of other small makeup items went with it. I didn’t even think twice. I was ready to spend the next 10 days unmasked.

And I did. I got used to not thinking about my skin other than to wash it and apply sunscreen. I got so used to not wearing makeup that when I actually arrived in a larger city and went out to a restaurant with my fellow pilgrims, I didn’t even think about my scars. And you know what?

I’m not saying I’ll never wear makeup again. But I developed a sense of freedom and self-love in my process of allowing myself to be vulnerable and embracing my skin as it is.

There is great strength and empowerment in allowing our scars to show, whether physical or emotional.

How to Embrace Your Scars

  1. Remember you’re not alone. Everyone has scars. If you’ve experienced past trauma, you’re not alone. If you have stretch marks, you’re not alone. If you’ve lost a breast, you’re not alone. When we realize this, we have an ability to choose to share our scars openly to encourage and support those around us.
  2. Give up perfection. We need to let the unattainable illusions of magazines and Instagram go. I am seeing a trend toward more people sharing photos of cellulite and talking about their depression openly on social media, and I think this is the path. If you want to be perfect, be the real and authentic you. That is perfection.
  3. Embrace your scars. So, in the case of a more profound scar like emotional abuse, that scar is part of your story, but it doesn’t define you. Rather, it’s an indicator of resilience and perhaps lessons learned. I look at my example of acne scarring and I believe it’s made me more compassionate toward others. I have a friend who has struggled with her self-image for years. Her insecurities are different than mine, but I realize we both have them and my scars help me to arrive at greater empathy.
  4. Let your scars shine. When we stop concealing our perceived flaws, we give them less power and stop living in fear. A sense of freedom and love is invited into our bodies and minds. Our scars then can become a tool for sharing our vulnerability, and that vulnerability just might mean the world to someone else.

What scars are you hiding? How are you giving them power?

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