The line between narcissism and confidence is not where you think


"Facebook Headquarters Entrance Sign Menlo Park" by LPS.1

Social media offers teenagers the means to post pictures of themselves to a wide audience and either get torn down or built up by peers. Facebook is one of these platforms, but Instagram and Twitter offer similar options.

Casey Metcalf, Staff Writer

Be confident, but not too confident. Be prideful, but remember that there are lots of people who are better than you. Take credit for things you do, but don’t be egotistical. Love yourself, but hate yourself.

These are the things that society tells teenagers, and the sad thing is that we feed it and nurture it and believe it as true. We think girls (and guys and everyone in between) that post too many selfies or call themselves pretty “too much” are narcissistic and shallow. And it’s not our fault – everything tells us this is the way we should feel.

When you’re young, your parents tell you that you are basically the most amazing thing in the world. Everything you do is great, your art projects are better than Van Gogh, your role in the school play outshines everyone else’s.

But at a certain point those ideals switch from right under your feet. Now, you’re scolded for talking yourself up too much. You’re told that it’s not proper to accept too much credit or say that you did a better job, and instead of fighting criticism that you disagree with – you’re supposed to sit and take it. But most of all, you can feel on top of the world, but you have to be mindful not to show it – or else face snarky comments from people complaining about your attitude.

Self love has somehow become equated with arrogance, and it’s an epidemic. A belief has originated that requires kids to stick to the status quo (circa “High School Musical” 2006) and hate themselves just like everyone else does. There’s always someone who is prettier than you, or smarter than you or more talented than you – and that should make you feel bad. You’re supposed to wallow in it and make comments about how much you wish you were like someone else. If someone comes along and challenges that, they’re labeled as a conceited jerk who loves themselves a little too much.

But here’s the thing they don’t want you to know – there is no such thing as loving yourself too much. No, really. How could you? There’s nothing harmful about self-love, the idea that there is happens to be the most absurd idea in young minds today. You likely aren’t immune from this way of thinking, you’ve probably had negative thoughts about someone based on this before. But I challenge you to really think about why you feel like a person loves themselves “too much”. Consider it before you think, “I don’t like that girl because she loves herself too much. I don’t love myself as much as she does, therefore, she’s vain and rude and awful.”

No one should have to deal with not being able to love themselves. It’s an unfortunate truth that many people, especially teenagers, have a hard time coming to accept their flaws and be confident in who they are. And yes, it can be extremely hard to feel bad about yourself and see a girl walk down the hall like she owns the place, looking great and radiating an aura of certainty. It’s terrible. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to tell her that she shouldn’t feel that way. Use her as inspiration, not as a punching bag.

The first thing you jump to is to criticize her, to knock her down a few notches, to put her narcissistic self in her place. But the basis behind the negative connotation of confidence is one of the most unfairly defined words in our collective vocabulary. Narcissism. Narcissism is widely thought of as synonymous with “cocky.” or “full of themselves.” This isn’t true. Narcissism actually means the idea that someone holds that they are inherently better than other people. Just because she thinks she’s amazing doesn’t mean she thinks you’re terrible.

Due to this wrong connotation, people are feeling bad about feeling good. They are feeling self-conscious about feeling amazing. It’s basically the most ridiculous paradox in the world – and the most preventable one. Never feel bad about feeling like a rockstar. Most likely, you are. Even if you don’t look like Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet, you deserve to think you do – and no one can take that away from you.