Pride and Vanity are almost the same thing, they rely on the same mental muscles, vanity just has one more mirror to bounce it’s signal off. Pride is what you think of yourself, if you were on the outside looking at you, it’s what you think you’d see. Vanity is what you think you’d see if you were not-you. If you believe you’re a diamond in the rough than vanity is the rough and pride is the diamond.
It’s still self-estimation but it’s not pure and simple. You can be proud of things you know no one else cares about and temper that pride when faced with the gaze of the world, talk to a toy train collector who downplays their giddy enthusiasm with a it’s silly but I love it at the end of a brief discussion when the opportunity thrillingly pops up and you can see they are proud but not vain.
Talk to that collector who angrily recites the value of their trains in an attempt to correct your estimation of their hobby and you’re seeing vanity.
And if you’d like to tap out early in this post just substitute trains for whatever dumb shit you’re into and don’t be that guy and my work here is done. For the remainder the post is about the importance of a well balanced vanity and the danger of pride without it, it might get nowhere, let’s find out….
Self-esteem is one of the many important, useful phrases ruined by sarcasm’s flamboyant need to misappropriate. If your self esteem, your self-estimation, seems inaccurate to others you’ll be the subject of mockery or shaming. Society tells you this mockery or shaming should be ignored, that it’s their problem not yours.
This is wrong. And it arouses contempt in the collectivist heart.
One under-used, as yet unruined phrase, I love is don’t be that guy. We can 2018 it and make it don’t be that person but for my purposes I’d prefer don’t be that friend.
And I’m using the term friend in the loosest possible way here because don’t be that peer wouldn’t sparkle, sunshine.
Thinking about what other people think of you, trying to see what other people see when they see you, is treated as pathetic in this self obsessed self esteem culture. Everything is you-do-you and fuck the haters.
But maybe people hating you is a sign you’re a dick.
Do you want to be a dick? Do you want to be that friend?
We all know too much pride is a problem, sure. What’s odd is that we treat any vanity as a worse problem. Thinking people hate you can be a source of pride in the culture that spawned Kanye West but liking the idea that people like you is considered a shameful weakness.
But what’s the difference between wanting to be liked and wanting to be a good person? Some people try to be liked by pretending to agree with everyone but that’s just terribly short sighted because everyone sees through that. People who want to be truly liked have to have qualities of greatness.
And I’m using this in terms of a great guy not a Great Man (Sorry for the gendering but the phrase She’s a great woman feels so different than he was a great man and there’s nothing I can do in the scope of this post). One great means big, far reaching, like Alexander. The other means supremely likeable like your friend Bob. Bob’s a great guy. We can all debate if Steve Jobs was a great man but everyone thinks Bob’s a great guy. It’s strange that we use the same word for both because there’s something quite humble about being a great guy.
And how do you be a great guy (or the equivalent cool chick)? It has to matter what other people think, it has to matter how other people feel.
When I was in high school there was a great guy named Nick Swayok. He’s the only person from my year at River View High School who’s first and last name I remember. He treated social outcasts with polite friendly respect while his athletics and his garage band would have given him the social carte blache not to. By not thinking about social status at all he elevated his above everyone who did, the zen of high school politics.
Wanting to be seen as good (and not wanting to be seen as one of those guys who’d treat people badly because he could) can make a person good.
And a big part of transforming yourself into something you want to be is thinking about what you want people to see when they see you.
If you want to feel pretty you have to get a little prettier, you can’t just bully people into ‘accepting’ you. You can get close and an entire generation seems built on the idea that you can but I can promise you it will never feel real, you won’t be able to turn that vanity into pride.