It is only vanity. But if you wish to avoid too much exposure to mine, stop right now. The following post is about ‘I’.
In my quest to explore the emotions we humans feel, the one that has often made me stop and throw a confused glance in all possible directions is Vanity. Armed with my own set of virtues, I like to observe and analyse people’s bag of this remarkable emotion (sin, some like to call it), including my own. I find myself quite short of virtues to deal with this one, however. But it makes for an insightful study, so I’ve continued to explore its depths.
To begin handling a concept, you need to know what it means. But like all things I handle, I’ve never had a definition for Vanity. Perhaps this is the reason my mind feels boggled each time I hear the word. (Oh. And I herewith reveal that all things I handle leave my mind very boggled. So there.)
Before I began typing this piece on my observations, I sought help at my trusted dictionary.com and it came up with this: “excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain; conceit“. While this definition is very definitive (as it should be), I found myself veering towards the example sentence. “Failure to be elected was a great blow to his vanity.”
Given the premise that vanity is a feeling of excessive pride in one’s qualities and/or achievements, I suppose he wouldn’t have seen it coming. (Excessive) pride is blind. But, if he were a not-vain person, would not being elected not be a blow to his acceptable level of pride? I do not have an answer for this, despite my own set of pride-worthy virtues.
To reach a conclusion, I’ll have to dig further.
I have a onerous memory of often hearing the phrases ‘superiority complex‘ and ‘inferiority complex‘ when I was but a little girl. (yes, I rarely hear them these days). I don’t quite remember where I heard them. Could’ve come from my mother who’d had psychology as a subject in college, or could’ve been Juhi or Pallavi or any of those girls who thought they knew the world. I also remember one (or all) of them declaring that superiority complex arises from an inferiority complex. How interesting. Here, I reach my partial view.
All those people who stand out because of a generous share of pride in their heads usually betray a lot of insecurity from time to time. Not always, of course. They are too insecure to betray themselves as a routine. Vanity is much like how Friedrich Nietzsche puts it. “…is the fear of appearing original: it is thus a lack of pride, but not necessarily a lack of originality.” I’d have liked this to have come from my head, but it hasn’t. My vanity does feel a little threatened, but I am going to presently coddle it with reminders that I made these words famous on this blog. That should put it to rest for a while.
It is quite safe to call ego-coddling a global pastime. And I am going to call it just that. Since vanity is nothing but hugging ego till it becomes nauseous with too much attention, the result normally is a bilious substitute to confident humility. The most dangerous (and stinking) result of such a situation is very subtle. Unlike other emotions, this one fails to recognise itself and save the world from its own evil. Vanity is considered to be Satan’s ‘favorite sin’, after all. Embarrassingly, it is the most prevalent one, too. Perhaps the reason is because people don’t wish to expose their actual level of confidence. Show of confidence is unfortunately equated with lack of humility.
I’d like to see people admitting very difficult things like “I do not know” “Yes, I made a mistake” “He/She is a great/beautiful/deserving person” “Yes, I do need to change this attitude”. It is a long list. The people breaching its importance are as many as there are. And most of these suffer from a superiority complex morphed out from an inferiority complex.
Satan must be a happy guy.