On the outside, you might not be able to tell the difference between someone who is confident versus someone who is vain. Both might hold their heads high, ooze self-esteem, and talk with charm. However, the disparity between the two are great, because confidence and vanity are actually two almost polarizing opposites. Believe it or not, when you have one, you can’t have the other.
While confidence is believing in yourself, despite being aware of your limitations, vanity is believing in yourself only because you don’t think you have any limitations, which just isn’t true for anybody in this world.
Confidence has a durability that vanity absolutely lacks. Confidence stems from being okay with yourself, even when you know that there are people who are smarter than you, prettier than you, happier than you, whatever more than you in this world, because confidence is not rooted in such comparisons of “worth.” In fact, confidence isn’t even about proving your worth – confidence is feeling worthy. Confidence is when you know that you’re imperfect, but you love yourself anyways.
Vanity, on the other hand, is much more brittle. Vanity is built upon the disillusion that you are the prettiest, smartest, happiest, etc. Vanity is constructed around comparing yourself against others and only being content when you presume that you’re better than everybody else. But, the thing is, you’re not better than everybody else. Nobody is. There’s going to be a day when that hits you hard in the face, that there are people who have more achievements than you, make more money than you, have more boys chasing after them than you, this list really could go on and on, and while someone with confidence can face that fact with ease and a practical reception, someone with only vanity might crumble at the thought.
I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post (K| I’m Pretty), but I’m going to talk about it one more time. One day, I overheard these two girls at my high school saying that I was the “ugliest girl ever” and the “ugliest Asian” they had ever seen. I’m going to be honest and tell you that, yeah, I was hurt. I was bothered. My initial reaction in my mind was “Who are you to call me ugly? Look at yourself in the mirror. I’m so much prettier than you two,” but that didn’t make me feel any better at all, because comparing myself to them and trying to convince myself that I was prettier than them didn’t mask the hurt of what they had said. It might have helped me to continue to smile and to hold my head up high, but inside I was not okay.
What actually got me to feel okay was accepting that they are right. No, not that I am the ugliest person ever, but that they have the right to have that opinion and they aren’t wrong for feeling that way. This world is filled with 7 freaking billion people. Out of those 7 billion, it’s only logical that there are going to be some (probably more than some) that think I’m ugly. Some that think I’m dumb. Some that think I’m gross. But that doesn’t mean I have to see myself as any one of those things. The way that I moved on from what they said was realizing that them thinking I am the ugliest girl ever doesn’t mean I have to start thinking that, too. It was the confidence that I am not what other people say about me, that I am not defined by comparisons against other people, that made me feel truly pretty and truly worthy.
The way I see it, the biggest problem with vanity is how essentially vanity is still about other people and not about you and yourself, as a person, and because of this, vanity is conditional and easily torn apart, while true confidence is not.
Confidence is unconditional.