I used to think of growing up as a transformation process, a la Cinderella (pre-midnight dash).
I expected to wake up one day the adult version of myself, my fairy godmother having secreted in during the night. I thought she would vanquish the awkwardness with a single wave of her sparkling wand. I ached for the day I would wake to beauty and grace and glass slippers, desperate to shrug off my ugly beginnings like so much useless baggage.
Instead, I am just the slightly bigger, adult version of that gawky girl. Right down to the zits and glasses.
When I woke up this morning, I was greeted by a familiar, menacing spectacle. Short, dark hair sticking straight out to one side. Unkempt, furrowed brows. Bright red pillow lines. White spittle crust at the sides of my lips where my mouth guard does not allow me to fully shut my jaws. And today an additional unhappy surprise: a large, painful, brilliantly red cyst growing just off center between my eyes.
My first zit appeared in the fifth grade, a bright, rosy beacon on the tip of my nose. And the acne has never completely gone away. Not that it was the kind you take Accutane for. Not the kind that scars. A kind of in-between type. Too big, or unfortunately placed to be properly concealed. Too infrequent to be consistently medicated. I tried everything as a girl: Stridex pads, salicylic acid washes, 2.5 % benzoyl peroxide solutions, 5% benzoyl peroxide solutions, masks, toothpaste, plain old soap and water. All to no avail. I hid in makeup and kept my head down.
As an adult I’m just too tired for all that bullshit. Today, I greet my unwelcome friend with an eye roll and continue on with my day.
Maybe this is my Cinderella transformation. Not an overnight flash into grace and beauty, but a gradual, steady shift in perception. Because who cares if a 31-year-old woman has a red, pea-sized bump in the middle of her face?
Maybe this is the magic of adulthood. The realization that no one cares. That no one is really watching. That we’re all so self-focused as to be functionally blind. You can be the messy, grungy version of yourself and still buy groceries. You can, shockingly, have a bad skin day and still be a fully-effective, worthwhile human being.
I will put just a dab of that 2.5% benzoyl peroxide solution on it this evening, though. Because, let’s be real, I’m not that evolved.