Vanity, by definition, is an inflated pride in yourself or your appearance; something vain, empty or valueless. But is it? Why does it have to be? Why is feeling good about yourself or your appearance vain? What if vanity was the one thing that could save your life?
As I’ve mentioned previously, I never considered myself to be a pretty girl. Although, I am now starting to have a slight change of perception in this area. Not because I’m beginning to think I’m any prettier, but because I hear so often how pretty my daughters are and how much they look like me. I look at their beautiful faces and think WOW could I possibly, really look like that? I’m sure you’re shaking your head asking yourself what is wrong with this woman? It’s ok, that’s something I often ask too. Moving right along …
As a young adult, 20ish, I was learning about the crack epidemic. Not a great understanding, but getting a visual. I had moved from Detroit to Ypsilanti, Michigan; in the back of the hood, in the dead-end section of town – the one with the one way in and out corridor. In Ypsilanti back then I didn’t see the effects of crack like I did when I went back to Detroit. After my mother passed I found out that my brother was changing his address to crack-alley. The nice thing for me about his decline into the dark side, was that I didn’t see it. I’d heard about how bad he was, but he was gone from my view; so, in a way, it really didn’t happen. By the time I saw him again he was clean, so it was mostly an urban myth. Maybe I did live in the zip code of denial, but it helped my sanity.
Did I ever play in the substance abuse playground? Of course, I did. But I was only going to do it for fun not to get hooked like everybody else. I did understand the allure because one can NEVER achieve that first high. The thing that kept me from reaching for it was what I saw when I would visit my old neighborhood. I would see that the girls who were once coveted prizes now became foreign to me. They used to be athletes, brains, beauty queens and more. Now they were scratching to survive, having conversations consisting of meaningless mumbles and they smelled. This was extremely heartbreaking and a path I did not want to follow.
My brother and I were talking, in his primary office (the Home Depot parking lot), and I expressed this to him and he laughed; that sinister laugh that only Al can do. Then he said, “turns out that vanity isn’t so bad after all, it may very well have saved your life”.
I'm going to share a lesson learned from a 2 year old (different from the last one). Whenever someone used to tell her how beautiful or smart (etc.) that she was, she'd look them directly in the eyes and say "Yes, yes I am!" People thought it was so cute, just adorable. However, when I say it, I'm conceited and vain? Well whatever! I like baby girl's method. I'll be agreeing with the comments/compliments bestowed upon me; no more shame in my game.
Thank you life, for the big lessons from your littlest people.