Alphabetical Emotions: Vain

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you?

VThose that are vain have a high self-esteem, they feel good about themselves and could often be described as being narcissistic. In fact psychologists are espousing that there has been an explosion of narcissism by those living in the age of entitlement.

The Baby Boomers are probably responsible for this epidemic. We grew up, often with parents who were still in the Victorian Age, and were taught not to blow our own trumpet. The only reason we would look in the mirror would be because your mother said “Have you seen yourself lately?” or “you aren’t going out looking like that are you?” If we were proud of our good grades or some other achievement we were not permitted to gloat, not even a little but rather we had to play it down. In Christianity, vanity was considered an example of pride, one of the seven deadly sins which justified our parents responses.

As a result, when they began their own families Baby Boomers almost en mass decided that their children were not going to suffer from low self-esteems as they had and consequently spoilt their children believing that if you made people feel good about themselves they would have a greater chance of realising their potential. Humility is out; hubris is in.

Sadly it has backfired. Teachers find these narcissist children bad students and difficult to teach. Employers find them poor employees and they often have trouble with relationships. Additionally, as they have only been given positive feedback in their younger years they don’t know how to cope with negative responses or indeed any critical feedback.  The only possible response to negativity is Rage.

Dr Adrian Furnham describes it as being “Lord of the Highchair, the megalomania of the infant who is inevitably dethroned but is scared by the experience.”

I don’t think that all Generation X and Y are like this, nor do I think that earlier generations were exempt from being this way – I can think of a number of statesmen and prime ministers who more than likely were fine examples –  but I do know that rage is on the increase and being vain is a major factor in this phenomenon.

I had to add the song in at the front. I couldn’t get it out of my head when I was pondering vain. It got me going so I put it in.



About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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17 Responses to Alphabetical Emotions: Vain

  1. Livonne says:

    There really needs to be a healthy balance.. Self Esteem but without vanity and arrogance.. 🙂


  2. Jenni says:

    Love this post – you’re so right – there is such a sense of entitlement to some that is vanity based I’d never really considered but after reading your perspective I think it’s the case. Also love love love the clip.


  3. tara tyler says:

    i’m waiting and praying for the tide to go back the other way. but the govt isn’t helping with their helping…
    can’t believe the challenge is almost over!


    • Hopefully it will go back to somewhere in the middle and a perfect combination will be found of 1/3 humility, 1/3 mocdesty and 1/3 hubris.Though if that does happen we would probably find it didn’t work either.
      The challenge has been great. Great getting around and meeting the other challengers. Cheers Irene


  4. ittymac says:

    Altruism is on the elevator doing down, self importance rules. A troublesome by product is a general inability to compromise and a rise in mean spirited behavior. (Just check out the American congress. Or Facebook.) Also there seems to be an epidemic of biblical proportions of NOT thinking before one speaks. So I totally agree with your perceptions. And love love love the song.


  5. This is a great V post. I suffered through about a decade of trying to teach medical students who thought they knew it all and berated their instructors if we couldn’t give them – or wouldn’t give them – what they wanted. I felt the tide turning when one fall, for the first time, the students thanked the instructors for a lecture or a lab. Not sure what happened.


    • It’s difficult when you know they don’t know but they think they do. I don’t think you can ever stop learning as in everything there is always something to be gained. Perhaps the tide has started to turn. It has to I believe and hopefully it will go to a middle ground. Cheers Irene


  6. I did the A-Z challenge last April but just didn’t think i had it in me to do again this year. I follow some of the blogs and I must say I am really enjoying your A-Z emotions. I can’t always comment because (shhh…I am at work..on my break, of course! when I read) and not logged in.


  7. Sherri says:

    Really great post Irene, you are doing an amazing job with all these emotions 🙂 Also, I love the song 🙂


  8. Annecdotist says:

    Thanks, Irene for flagging up this post, especially as I’m loving having another listen to that Carly Simon song.
    However, I think the problem with these vain and narcissistic people is that they DON’T have high self-esteem and are actually very insecure: they continue to flaunt their achievements because they’re terrified of what they’ll be without them. And it’s hardly surprising that a generation raised one particular way will react against it and go to the other extreme, making different mistakes but equally harmful. If a child has been properly attended to in the very early years, especially up to 3 years old, they’ll feel more secure about the world and then can learn the appropriate skills of turn taking and generosity towards others.
    It’s a theme that Norah Colvin discusses a lot on her blog and I was honoured to be invited to do a guest post Would be interested in what you think.


    • Another book to put on my list Anne. I would say that perhaps he is suggesting the happy medium I thought was probably out there somewhere. I think he is saying what I was trying to say – that praise can be detrimental.
      I congratulated a mother the other day for her handling of her toddler. It struck me as something rarely seen, in public anyway, a parent teaching a child that it can’t do everything it wants to. She warned it three times and then back into the stroller. The child screamed for a long time whilst she leisurely finished her coffee and took her leave. Most mothers would have relented to stop the stares of the disturbed customers and the child would have been rewarded for his tantrum throwing behaviour and would have thought he could again do the activities which he had been banned from.
      On another instant I rang a mother and asked her to come in to visit her child (an 17 year old) in hospital. She told me she couldn’t because the boy would ask her to take him home and she would. She then told me her history of acceeding to his requests, multiple school changes and numerous other things. If only she had disciplined him as a youngster she could have said no to him. Although perhaps she was possibly a “good child” herself.
      I think we are basically on the same wave length but I think that a child has to learn how to deal with failure, has to learn that sometimes you have to take orders from people (particularly early in a career).
      I don’t know that these kids today are suffering low self-esteem they are just part of a me generation caused by a baby boomer backlash to their own strict upbringings. It will probably go full circle as these me children have their own kids. Hopefully society can make it to that middle ground of benignly attentive with curiosity about what the child is doing.


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