Here in Bali, if you go into a pharmacy, you’ll see a lot of whitening products – not for your teeth, but for your skin. Whitening lotion, whitening face wash – the same type of products I saw in Hong Kong and China two years ago.
I remarked on this to Fred, who was perplexed. Why do Asians (who are tan) want to be pale, while Americans (who are pale) want to be tan?
It’s simple, I explained. It’s a law of womanhood: if you have straight hair, you want curly hair; if you have curly hair, you want straight hair. You want what you don’t have, I guess.
So Fred told me to jot this down for my study of happiness: accepting yourself is the first step.
It makes sense. To make any life change, you need to accept the place you’re starting from. And if you start from a place of not accepting yourself – being unhappy with the body you see in the mirror or your professional skills – it doesn’t matter what else happens. Even if life hands you the best of circumstances, you can’t be fully happy.
So what do you need to accept about yourself?
I’m pale. I use umbrellas not only for rain, but for sunshine, too. I don’t tan. In some photos, I look like a ghost.
I’m introverted. I don’t really like parties. I’m bad at small talk. I don’t like to network, even when I should.
I’m serious. I don’t think some things should be laughed at. I work a lot, and I don’t really like stupid movies or stupid jokes. I think about the meaning of life.
At some point, I didn’t accept all these things about myself. But I’m getting there. I can take umbrella jokes in stride, leave the party without guilt (most of the time), and ask deep questions without having to downplay them. If I’m the quirky quiet one who always carries around umbrellas, so be it.
What are you?