I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently, and I think a lot people mistake snobbery for class. And in my opinion, those two things are worlds apart.
For the record, I do think there’s a classy way to dress, and an unclassy way to dress. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the intrinsic qualities that makes a person classy. The class of character.
I just got home from a weekend in New Jersey for the wedding of a family friend, Tyler. Tyler’s entire family (immediate and extended) is filled to the seams with class. It sparkles out of them. In their friendliness and in their grace and in their hospitality. And every time I visit, I’m reminded once again of who I’d really like to be. The grace with which I hope to live my life.
One person who really sticks out in my mind is Tyler’s aunt, Stevie. I swear, she is class personified. She is always kind, always smiling, always honest. She only has to step into the room to make you feel more at ease. Stevie is a class act. A role model. The person in this world I probably aspire most to emulate.
So, with all that said, here are some of the things that fall under my definition of class.
Class is having the grace to make people feel comfortable, no matter the situation.
Class is not putting on airs, or acting/being snobby, to make it seem as though you’re better than anyone else.
Class is kindness, and it’s generosity of heart.
Class is not being nasty. Not to someone’s face, and not behind their back.
Class is accepting that people have flaws without needing to point them out, either to the person or to others. Unless the flaw is something that might harm them, or others–and even then, it’s discussed in a private way. (It can be as small as pointing out that someone has food in their teeth, no need to announce it to an entire room. Or much larger, and much more personal.) Whatever the case, class is the ability to act without embarrassing another person.
Class doesn’t scrutinize, or make people feel bad for making decisions that you yourself wouldn’t make. It doesn’t wrinkle up its nose or make mean faces to make sure your opinion on the matter is made clear.
Similarly, class is living to your own personal highest standards, but it isn’t expecting other people to live to those same standards. It’s understanding that they have their own sets of standards. It’s understanding that those standards aren’t worse than yours, just different. And it’s never making someone feel subpar when they do something that doesn’t fit into your own preferences*.
Class is unobtrusive and doesn’t push situations into ones in which you’ll get all/the best of people’s attentions. Class makes room for others to shine–and does so without remark, or making others feel like you’ve made a sacrifice to step aside for them.
Class keeps secrets. Or, when you don’t, you admit your mistakes.
Class has opinions, but is not vocally opinionated to the point in which it makes others feel like lesser people for having different thoughts or feelings.
Class is honest, and forthright, but always accompanied with kindness. It is not passive aggressive. It does not make people question themselves or your secret hidden, sometimes unkind, messages.
I doubt that there are many, if any, people out there who meet each of these criteria at all times. I certainly don’t. I bet even Stevie doesn’t. BUT. I think the important thing is to try. I think the important thing is to put all of this into practice until it becomes inherent.
But basically, what it boils down to for me, is this:
*I hope it’s obvious, but I’m not talking about anything criminal here. Just regular people.