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I've been dealing with severe acne since my school time. And believe me, when I say this, it has not been an easy ride. From school to college years to work-life, the acne has never left me.

I got my first acne when I was 11-12 years old.

My sister told me to let go of it. But after a year, the situation worsened. My face started to fill up with acne. I remember there was a morning school prayer going on in our class and this teacher was present there as well. Suddenly, she looked towards me and pointed at my face asking me why I had so many pimples on my face. Half of the class immediately turned towards me and started looking at me. I was so embarrassed at that point of time that I just closed my eyes to escape the looks. From that moment, I started taking my skin very seriously and every advice that came towards me, I would immediately go for it.

I love photography and I used to learn editing through a software. I learned about this tool which would retouch a spot. I tried using it on my face and suddenly I had a clear face in front of me. So before uploading a photo on Facebook, I'd retouch it properly to make my face look, “nice”. Retouching just one photo would take up so much time that I started wishing for a retouching tool in real life. I would usually click candid photographs of people because I felt that a person's true emotions and expressions were way more important than just the ‘perfect’ skin and I felt like portraying that to others.

Usually, I used to get acne bursts during summer and rainy seasons and the transition gap between school and college made the severity of those acne even worse. Before college started, I started going to a dermatologist who suggested I stop eating oily and non-vegetarian food because according to him, the heat in them made me have acne. I wanted my skin to heal so badly that I immediately stopped having non-vegetarian food. Even though my family nudged me to have a piece or two of meat, I never even once ate it because I wanted to be true with myself. With the doctor's medication and the no non-veg diet, my skin did clear up in a year. By this time, I was already in college. So once the acne disappeared, I stopped the medication and started having my regular diet again. But to my surprise, it appeared again. I used to introduce my new pimples only to my family members and to lighten my mood, I'd crack jokes about them as well.

By the mid of my last year in college, the acne started appearing on my neck, the shoulders and back. I was so awkward that I had stopped wearing sleeveless tops. The acne used to be a conversation starter in college. The people I knew would come up to me and randomly ask, "Why don't you do something about it? Do you have an allergy to something?" Being a teen, you start taking such comments very seriously and it hits you at a different level. At that point, I felt like I was more than just an acne-skinned girl. People shouldn't come up to me to only talk about my face.

I started focusing more on my projects, presentations and studies to make sure that people came to me to talk about random stuff or studies, and not acne. And slowly and steadily that did really happen. I was already a scholar since school times. But that scholar Rutuja somehow disappeared behind the acne-skinned Rutuja.

Soon, I started gaining confidence again and aced my last year.

I started to search for a new dermatologist again after my college years as I was simultaneously searching for a job and didn't want to interview for one with a face like that. I came across this doctor who by the end of the session asked me what I was currently doing. I told him that I had just finished college and was looking for a job. He immediately said that no one would give me a job if I looked like that. I was so infuriated by that sentence that it just affected my confidence while interviewing.

I'd get a lot of advice from strangers, too. This one time, I was travel