Juliana Mun’s experience of how sometimes what we see on the surface isn’t who we truly are

Juliana Mun, Special Section Editor



Roses are known to be one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. 

They are notable for their connection with love and beauty but most people overlook their thorns, like cacti, that are hidden under delicate petals. This offers a very compelling juxtaposition as we realize roses can embody beauty, yet still have a sharp sting. 

What does that mean, you might ask? Why does it even matter? 

It matters because it shows you that roses are pretty, but that doesn’t mean they can’t prick you. In today’s society, with beauty standards being sky high, many of us can have trouble differentiating between who we show ourselves to be and who we really are. 

Today, I share my own story to make someone out there feel a little less alone. 


First Itch 


When the first few bumps appear, you don’t really think much of it. 

It could be a bug bite or irritated skin, and I’ve actually learned from this experience that there are so many excuses you can make. It’s itchy, red, very odd looking but you still scratch it without concern, knowing that it’ll eventually go away. 

Except, it didn’t. My skin started growing worse with time and the bumps were visibly infected, spreading like wildfire through my body, until it was everywhere. I ripped scab after scab in an attempt to alleviate the itch, but in doing so I just fanned the flame into something worse. It had gone from my legs to my thighs and was now crawling up my back. 

So, the doctor visit was inevitable and as I sat there on that squeaky black chair, all I could do was breathe. In. Out. I had no control over my skin and no control over what the doctor would say, so I came to the conclusion that all I had to do was wait. 

The moment I was waiting for came when the doctor finally arrived, examined me, and made her diagnosis. She told me what I had was a bacterial skin infection. It was not severe, but the condition of my body was not great either. And for some reason, her words both lifted the weight of not knowing what it was and placed a new weight on my shoulders. Now I needed to heal and damage control myself but how? 

How could I erase all the mistakes after that first itch? 


Flipped Inside Out 


Sometimes the way to grow is to visualize your inner battle. 

That’s why people make films about serious issues, why so many hard topics are written or drawn about: It’s because it reaches people and makes them finally see the whole picture from a different lens. 

To me, the bacterial skin infection wasn’t just a bacterial skin infection. It was deeper than that. My obsession first stemmed from how unbearably itchy it was, but it grew under how much I cared about how it looked. I refused to go outside, refused to take pictures and was even hesitant to show my marred skin to the doctor, because it appeared so ugly. 

This feeling got worse as the infection spread to my face and every time I looked in the mirror, I had to be reminded of it. It felt like I had been flipped inside out, all my insecurities on the outside now and I couldn’t hide it anymore. 

This realization was tough to swallow and it took a few days of inner turmoil to accept that this was my skin and that this was me. Until it was taken away, I didn’t realize how much I cared about my appearance and how quickly it consumed my life. It was like a splash of cold water in my face, as I started to become aware of myself. The more I thought about it, the more I became comfortable with the idea.

This is me. But maybe… that’s okay. 


Warped Reflection 


My insecurities warped my reflection of myself. 

They made me think I had to portray myself in a perfect way, even if that wasn’t how it was. This way of thinking prevented me from having real connections with people and it even made me a bit shallow, as I chose only to accept the presentable, pretty parts of myself. 

But how is that right? When I love other people do I just love all the good parts of them? 

The bacterial skin infection was a visual reflection of my insecurities inside. Pus-filled, itchy thoughts that I couldn’t stop scratching until they blew up and became much worse than they should have been. I wondered why I couldn’t see it until it was right in front of me and then came to the conclusion that it was because I didn’t want to face it. I didn’t want to accept how much I cared, how much I wanted people to love the image of me and not the real me, because it was safer. 

My faith, my family, and my friends have long been a comfort to me, but my mom in particular has made me realize how selfless love should be. She’s seen all the ‘ugly’ sides of myself from my personality flaws to my infection, yet she still endlessly cares for me. Her dedication to helping me and her meticulous efforts encouraged me to write this article and share something so vulnerable and scary about myself. 

I’ve finally accepted that all those parts make me whole and that if my mom has seen the worst but she still comforted me, then you, the readers, might also find some comfort in me telling you that it’s okay. 

As in, hey I see your reflection and it’s not perfect, but guess what. Mine isn’t either. 


Thorns Are Apart of the Bramble


I’m working towards healing. 

I take medicine every day, rub ointment on my skin and pray that it’ll get better. The healing process is not immediate but each morning I see the bacteria clear up a little more and am encouraged to keep going. So, the bacteria on the outside is clearing up, but I know that all these insecurities inside take more time to heal in a different way. For a bacterial infection, you can use medicines to heal it, but what about your insecurities? 

Insecurities don’t go away instantly, just like the rose’s thorns don’t go away either. It’s a part of the rose and instead of looking at it as a negative thing, why not accept that you’ve got thorns too? Thorns don’t make roses less beautiful and it doesn’t make you less beautiful either. Just change your mindset about them and accept it as a part of you, painting an imperfect yet more honest picture of yourself. 

It’s one step at a time. One positive thought. A period of healing. 

And soon you’ll understand how true beauty blooms from inside.