Self-possession

Self-Possession

Self-possession is the first requisite to good manners; and, where it is wanting, there is generally a reason for it, in some wrong feeling or appreciation of things. Vanity, a love of display, an overweening desire to be admired, are great obstacles to self-possession; whereas, a well-disciplined and well-balanced character will generally lead to composure and self-command. In a very elegant assemblage, in a large drawing-room in a Southern city, I saw a young lady walk quietly and easily across the apartment to speak to a friend, who said to her: "I wanted very much to get to you, but I had not the courage to cross the room. How could you do it?—all alone, too, and with so many persons looking at you!" "I did not think of any body's looking at me," was the reply; and in that lay the secret of her self-possession. Very modest people believe themselves to be of too little consequence to be observed; but conceited ones, think every body must be looking at them. Inexperienced girls, who are not wanting in modesty, are apt to dread going into a crowded room, from an idea that every eye will be turned upon them; but after a while they find that nobody cares to look at them, and that the greater the crowd, the less they are observed.

Your enjoyment of a party depends far less on what you find there, than on what you carry with you. The vain, the ambitious, the designing, will be full of anxiety when they go, and of disappointment when they return. A short triumph will be followed by a deep mortification, and the selfishness of their aims defeats itself. If you go to see and to hear, and to make the best of whatever occurs, with a disposition to admire all that is beautiful, and to sympathize in the pleasures of others, you can hardly fail to spend the time pleasantly. The less you think of yourself and your claims to attention, the better. If you are much attended to, receive it modestly, and consider it as a happy accident; if you are little noticed, use your leisure in observing others.

The popular belle, who is the envy of her own sex and the admiration of the other, has her secret griefs and trials, and thinks she pays very dearly for her popularity; while the girl who is least attended to in crowded assemblies, is apt to think her's the only hard lot, and that there is unmixed happiness in being a reigning belle. She, alone, whose steady aim is to grow better and wiser every day of her life, can look with an equal eye on both extremes. If your views are elevated, and your feelings are ennobled and purified by communion with gifted spirits, and with the Father of spirits, you will look calmly on the gayest scenes of life; you will attach very little importance to the transient popularity of a ball-room; your endeavor will be to bring home from every visit some new idea, some valuable piece of information, or some useful experience of life.

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