What a fascinating experience. I met a woman yesterday who wasn’t even finished reluctantly shaking my hand in introduction before she dismissed me and culled me from the herd. It was a jaw-dropper. She wasn’t subtle and she was deft.
Later, I had an exceptional conversation with a friend who’s advice I’ve been seeking for a while. We took advantage of proximity to carve out a few moments and talked about the subject on my mind: categorizing someone as an asshole. No, this woman was actually not the focus of the conversation. I only made the connection later.
News Flash: I love black and white. I try hard to create hard and fast definitions and then fit everyone into the resultant categories. If the reality doesn’t align, I try to re-work the definitions. Never, ever, ever does it first occur to me that the process may be flawed.
So, long story short, I’m re-working my definition of an asshole and it’s quite liberating. Today, I feel a distinct lightening. You know, a lifting of that heavy feeling when something doesn’t sit right. It comes down to this. I have been trying really hard to categorize someone as an asshole if they hurt my feelings. The internal conflict is that that just ain’t right.
Yes! I am apparently still 5 years old. Come on and own up. Sometimes, you’re 5 years old too.
Yes! I am smiling and enjoying this. I did mention the liberating part. It’s true. I love laughing at my foibles.
So, my new definition of an asshole: Someone who spends more time not trying, complaining, lying and/or actively and consciously hurting people for their own gratification. I don’t care how beautiful, feared, talented or rich you are. If you do these things, you’re an asshole. (You might also be a sociopath, but that’s another blog)
So, my new definition of not-an-asshole: Someone who tries really hard and who’s heart is in the thing. I want to spend time with you. You may hurt me in the process. You’re doing the best you can and your intention isn’t to hurt me, it’s to do the best you can. Codicil: if you do cause damage, it’s up to me to say so and you to make amends.
I believe that the measure of a person isn’t whether or not bad things happen. I think that bad things are inevitable. I think that the true measure of a person is what you do afterwards to deal with the fallout. (asshole leanings are when you don’t care that there was fallout.) Are you a stand-up person? Do you have grit? Did you break through something tough? Can you take responsibility and do the right thing? Or, did you leave bodies in your wake and then go get your car and drive back over them to make sure they are truly destroyed? (See definition of non-asshole and asshole above)
So, was this woman an asshole? She treated me like dirt, and I have a suspicion as to why. And yet, I don’t know if she’s an asshole. I don’t know her and never will. (yeah, yeah – never say never). What she is is a point of reference for helping me realize, in addition to the new definition of asshole, that it doesn’t matter one way or the other. Her behaviour is not my problem. My need to categorize her is.
I wonder if that makes me an asshole?
Susan Scot Fry
Update… Uh-oh. I was an asshole yesterday evening and I owe someone a sincere apology. I suspect that he will understand and forgive me, but he has a big apology owed to him first.