Vanity differs from self-love. Vanity is not the same as self-appreciation. Vanity cannot be compared to pride.

As it is pronounced in Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

To say it is aggravating when people use the two words synonymously is an understatement. I have grown to understand that one is essential; to live the most content life, whilst the other is seen as a downfall in your personality. When the two are confused, it is difficult to be fully satisfied with life, knowing you are perceived as something you are not.

Honestly speaking, I believe that the media confuses us all. Initially, you hear from our benevolent influencers that self-love and confidence is a key to a desired reality. In actual fact, it is a hammer for a wall that ought to be broken down.

In the same way, the people around us tend to frown upon vanity. In my understanding, vanity is being self-absorbed rather being self-loving. It is defined officially as ‘excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements’. I believe this definition alone to be hypocritical in the sense that the media encourages pride, up until a certain point. If self-love is truly a virtue of life, why ought it to be limited until it is deemed ‘excessive’? How could one know that their amount of self-appreciation is ‘excessive’? And who decides how much is appropriate in a given situation? It seems illogical to promote an idea to great extents, but not believe that that idea infinitely will not result in ultimate efficacy – in terms of happiness in life.

Although frowning on vanity is not any less than I would expect from our society today, when people confuse vanity for pride, self-love or self-appreciation, they begin to discourage the one thing that they promote the most.

I have encountered a situation when a teenage girl proclaimed that she “loved herself”. The reaction was shocking, as many responded with the phrase, “You are so vain!” This was when I saw the blatant evidence that we, as a society, often discourage self-love when it is voiced openly. Rather than using encouraging words, we are quick to shut down the idea of someone appreciating themselves, regardless of the situation that made them draw to that conclusion.

As many of us know, pride is derived from self-love which is somewhat difficult for many to claim, retain and maintain. The lucky ones are blessed with this gift at birth, and are brought up in a society that encourages it. So why are we not all lucky ones?

I find it unjustifiable that communities only tend to encourage self-love when somebody is in a situation that often means they are or have been deprived of it. If I ask you now, which would be better: to prevent a disease from happening, or treating a disease as soon as it happens, the most rational of you would suggest the former. So, in the same way, surely we should prevent situations that stem from weakening self-esteem – by promoting self-love properly.

Knowing the difference between self-love and self-absorption is the corner stone to this newer reality.  The colloquial term of being ‘full of oneself’, I believe means disregarding other people as also equal to oneself. It means you are the centre of your attention, and that solely your attitude to any topic is the most significant, in all situations.

Self-love, although has for generations been seen as a ‘moral flaw akin to vanity’, is proved in its name to be love for one self. Some may refer to the bible, when referring to self-love, as there is seen to be a hierarchy in who deserves your love. With God upmost high, then your neighbour, then yourself – it makes sense that many people are of the opinion that self-love is futile. On the other hand, the bible writes, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Surely, if self-love is not important, then neither would loving everyone else be. As we know it to be quite the contrary, we now know self-love to be indispensable.

So take what you will, from this last article. If you only take one thing, my advice would be, of course, to love yourself – infinitely.