Vanity is excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.
How is vanity different from confidence? Some would say that there’s no real difference, but that they’re both a matter of perception. I tend to agree with this. If someone is über confident, sometimes they’re described as arrogant, vain, full of themselves, egotistical, and self-centered. Again, these are all simply perceptions.
So, what is perception?
Perception is a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
We form perceptions constantly. Oftentimes, our perceptions keep us out of trouble. For instance, if you’re home alone and someone rings the bell, you might believe answering it is a bad idea. But why?
The person is probably a stranger and your parents have instructed you not to answer the door when they’re not home. Your parents, and you (by default) perceive people ringing the bell to be possible threats until confirmed otherwise. And your parents want to keep you safe. Their perception is that the best way to do that is to instruct you to ignore the bell.
Their perceptions, and you mirroring those perceptions, keeps you safe.
But the thing about perceptions is that they’re very individual. Some, like in the above example, are to keep us safe, while others might keep you from achieving success.
Here’s an example:
You plan to tryout for a sports team. None of your friends are really into that. In fact, they think it’s stupid and a waste of time. They’d rather you all spend your time playing video games.
How will their perception of playing sports affect your decision to tryout for a team?
If you decide to tryout and you succeed, how will your friends perceive you?
How will you perceive them?
It’s easy to say, “Oh, it won’t be any different,” but for most of us, that’s not true. People don’t like to feel as though they’re being left behind. And, a lot of people don’t like change.
Does this mean you shouldn’t go out for a team, join a choir, or whatever other activity you’re interested in doing?
It does mean that you need to understand that our perceptions, and those of the people around us, shape who we believe we are. And, as a young person, trying to figure out what makes you tick, you’re probably even more concerned about your friend’s perceptions than say, your parent’s perception of you.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it needs repeating:
Perception is reality for everyone, but it is very individual. You are in control of how you perceive yourself and others. You aren’t in control of how they perceive you.
Here are a few rules I follow:
- Be myself
- Be consistent
- Be honest
- Be compassionate
- Be respectful
- Be empathetic
- Be helpful
How do you see yourself? Write down your rules for being you. And don’t worry if the list changes as you get older. That’s a good thing. It means you’re taking in new information, analyzing it, and using what works for you.