You’re walking up to the convenience store, and as you are heading in, another customer is also walking up, maybe two steps ahead of you. They proceed to open the door, and as you reach to grab the handle, you realize they didn’t wait or attempt to hold it for you, and it swiftly shut behind them in your face.
In some areas, no one would think twice about it; they’d open the door and keep on going. In other areas, the person in front would be viewed as a jerk since they didn’t hold the door. And sometimes, you who had the door shut in your face would get laughed at – perfect for a meme.
No one wants to be a pushover, but plenty accept being a jerk. There’s actually logic to it. If everyone were pushovers, then things would work just fine. No one would step on another, and everyone would hold doors for others. If no one took advantage and everyone was nice and looked after each other, this would be the most ideal way of living. In this type of society, there wouldn’t be a ‘pushover’ because no one would be pushing anyone else over. They’d just be happy functioning members of society, nice people.
A single jerk in this perfect world, however, would pretty much rule. The unfortunate truth is that we not only have a single jerk; we have a ton of them. We live in a world where people will deliberately try to get over on others and push them over to get their own way. This ranges from the most insignificant actions, like spending a moment to hold a door, to more extreme situations, like theft or violence. A pushover in this environment can get steamrolled.
It’s sad because, most likely, the pushover was raised in a good home; their family taught them good values and to care for all things. They taught them not to fight, to be a bigger person. They are pretty much a nice person.
Nice people, however, are often seen as soft targets for theft, panhandlers, and anyone else to take advantage of. So-called friends will leech off of nice people if they have money. Partners or significant others will have them at their beck and call. If they are driving in New York traffic, they will never make it out without cutting someone off, which they’ve been taught not to do. Their extreme consideration for others could carry into everything under the sun, resulting in everyone else appearing to walk over them constantly. The issue isn’t that everyone else is being a jerk, it may be that the nice person isn’t asserting themselves. No one knows what the overly nice person actually wants or needs.
Interestingly enough, there’s somewhat of a ‘jerk code.’ The jerk that doesn’t think twice to push someone else over will eventually have to watch themselves. They will encounter other jerks and have to fight it out in some form all the time. If they are in business, they could lose their money because they won’t form a healthy network of relationships. Since business and life both need others to be successful, being a jerk all the time isn’t a viable solution.
The same way our perfect world didn’t work with one single jerk, having nothing but jerks would also not work because they’d essentially destroy each other. Jerks would have to be nice sometimes.
Perspective and Context
One of our biggest themes seems to always surround ‘context’ and ‘perspective.’ We must constantly remember that everything we witness or observe is through our own perspective. We have to be aware that we may not understand the full context of any particular situation.
For example, in our door-holding scenario, maybe the person in front of us was completely unaware of us being right behind them. It is often the case that what we consider being a jerk is simply our own perspective. It’s like the woman who is considered a bitch for not smiling and turning away an interested man.
There are so many unfortunate misunderstandings that it is often more efficient to assume the person is not a jerk while, at the same time, always protect ourselves.
Inner Jerk and Pushover
To the jerks of the world, you’re also a pushover. You live in a world where someone with more power than you can and will push you over if they get the chance. The jerk with more power could be anyone from a thug on the street with a gun to whoever writes your paycheck. You wouldn’t appreciate that, right? You’d fight it, right? Then, it’s up to you to not push others over wrongly and be a decent person. Refusing to be pushed over doesn’t mean you become a jerk to everyone else before they have a chance. Being cautious is ok, but being a jerk to everyone will ultimately result in getting burnt.
To the pushovers or nice people of the world, we all have an inner jerk – embrace it. It needs to be let free sometimes, not to everyone, but when a jerk is about to push you over, summon your inner jerk, and don’t let them push you down. Learn to say NO. Establish boundaries that are reasonable and meaningful and push back if necessary.
P.S. Becoming a jerk because someone didn’t hold the door isn’t a good reason. Neither is being cut off in traffic. If you notice your boundaries or reasons to be a jerk are ‘retaliatory’ in nature or to show another jerk ‘the error in their ways,’ those are not good reasons, and you may be an actual jerk. Having your own sense of justice is great, but forcing others to acknowledge or live by them, not so much.