Choose Pride–Not Vanity

There is no flaw in displaying pride; there is no wrong in realizing what our strengths are, in being confident, in being proud of our successes. Pride sustains our self-esteem because it helps us acknowledge the things we enjoy about ourselves. Being devoid of pride altogether would be dangerous because it would force us to constantly focus on our weaknesses. It would be a catalyst for negative thinking, an opportunity to indulge in self-hatred.  Pride is necessary when it comes to self-preservation.

But I think most of us often think the opposite. I think this is because we often used pride synonymously with haughtiness. If there is one thing I have learned from reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice it’s that, while the two might be similar, there is a difference between pride and vanity. In the novel, this idea is portrayed by the character Mary, who despite her apparent insignificance as a character, wisely notes, “Vanity and pride are different things though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates to the opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

I find it interesting that Mary describes pride as relating solely to one’s individual self, while vanity is more so dependant on other people. Perhaps it would be fair to say, then, that pride comes from a place of certainty, a place of knowing our own importance. To be vain, on the other hand, is to be excessively proud. Vain people are often described as acting like they are better than others, and they will often treat others as if they are inferior. But, by Mary’s definition, if vanity is “what we would have others think of us,” then perhaps vanity comes from a place of insecurity, opposed to the certainty that is accompanied with pride. Maybe people who act with pompousness, actually struggle with seeing their own importance. Perhaps those who are vain are concerned that other people think poorly of them, and, as a result, act as if they are superior in order to gain a sense of recognition. This would also, then, explain the psychology behind superiority complexes. However, I do not think a superiority complex is an excuse for every case of vanity; I think there are just some people that use their achievements and strengths to make other people feel small.

Vanity and pride are different things though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates to the opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us.

Maybe this is why some of us are afraid to be proud. I know I can relate to that. I’m the type of person who feels uncomfortable whenever I am complimented, someone who is often embarrassed when it comes to acknowledging her own accomplishments. I guess I just always have that fear in the back of my mind that I will be seen as pretentious or full of myself If I act otherwise. Look at Mr. Darcy, for instance–his pride for his status was often confused with vanity on Elizabeth’s part. I think this happens in today’s society as well. I think a lot of the time, we just automatically assume that people that openly appreciate their own worth are conceited. I think a lot of us have also been taught to be humble, but that we have also interpreted being humble as denying ourselves the right to be proud of the things that we do right. No wonder so many of us have fallen victim to self-loathe; we have never been taught to be proud, to assert our own value, for fear that we will appear arrogant. And nobody likes arrogance. I know that it’s one of my pet peeves, for sure.

That being said, though, I think that is part of the reason why I decided to write this blog post. Reading Pride and Prejudice has helped me realize the difference between pride and vanity, and it has given me permission to be proud without fearing that I will come across as being vain. I wanted to write this piece to reinforce this idea, and give myself permission to do so as well. In fact, I am giving all of my readers permission to do this–to be confident in their brilliance without being self-centered. So, from now on, let’s all promise ourselves that we will choose pride– not vanity.

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3 thoughts on “Choose Pride–Not Vanity

  1. Dear Jade.

    Wow! This piece is absolutely incredible – thank you for writing it. I had not really considered the difference between pride and vanity before, and as you said, did not really see that there is a major difference between the two. Reading your blog has not only made me recognize the difference, and how crucial it is, but also made me want to read Pride and Prejudice more than I had before.

    After reading this blog, I felt enlightened – there is so much intelligence in this, yet you wrote about it so casually and humbly. I had to write down the quote you had in this blog, “Vanity and pride are different things though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates to the opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us,” so that I could put it on my desk.

    When you integrated the significance of pride and vanity has in your own life, it made your blog more relatable as well. It was great to see your personal understanding of pride and vanity intertwined with its impact on your life, as well as how your new understanding changed this impact.

    I cannot express enough how much this piece has deepened my understanding of pride and vanity. I hope you have a great break, and I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

    – Shyla

    1. Dear Shyla,

      I’m glad that you were able to find some enlightenment by a reader. I know that I have also felt enlightened in the same way by reading Pride and Prejudice and by further exploring these ideas through my own writing. I think it’s an important topic, because I think we should all be able to recognize our own worth and importance without being afraid of coming across as vain. I think this is why it’s important for us all to realize that there is a difference between pride and vanity. I think this also helps precent us from judging others for being vain when they are in reality, just confident about who they are and what they have accomplished.

      Thank you for reading my piece! I also hope you have a great break!


  2. Dearest Jade,

    Thank you for writing a very wonderful piece on vanity and pride!

    Although I recognized that there was a difference between the two, I have never really given much thought to it, which is why I really appreciated your psychological approach to this topic.

    After reading your work, I realized the significance of pride and vanity and how one should consider their actions and language carefully when interacting with others. I also realized that humbleness, which you mentioned above, connects to the emotion of pride. Using your example of compliments, I tend to be very shy and humble, and I don’t really know how to react. However, because of what I have learned as a growing individual, I feel that everyone should be proud, but not arrogant, of their talents and abilities. That is why, instead of being modest and humble, I think that people should really accept compliments or praise by their peers and say “thank you”, and be proud of who we are.
    I truly agree that one should not be cocky (like Mrs. Hunniset has said), but act with humility.
    In terms of things to work on, I think that you should fix a few GUMPS, but other than that it was a very truthful and amazing piece.

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