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Opening a door of potential and kindness

How the simple act of holding the door open for someone has led me to reflect on acts of kindness and human nature

<p>&nbsp;Niharika Singhvi is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com. &nbsp;</p>

 Niharika Singhvi is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com.  

Over the past week, I’ve caught myself getting slightly irritated at one of the most trivial actions — someone holding the door open for me. Before you make any assumptions, let me clarify the specifics. Sometimes, even if I’m a dozen feet away from the door, someone will keep it open until I arrive. This prompts me to hurry up and do a slightly embarrassing “jog-walk” that ultimately is the root cause of my annoyance.

But while I’ve occasionally let my irritation get the better of me, I’ve started seeing another perspective to the situation. A subtle kindness that has been ingrained within so many of us — kindness represented by the simple act of holding the door for one another. 

Perhaps I’m just one to overly romanticize things, but I believe there’s such a positive and reassuring beauty in people practicing this simple action. At least in the places where I grew up — and especially at college — most people do engage in this door-opening act. In a way, what strikes me most is the customs and practices that exist to help others. The simple acts of kindness that are so common, we don’t even stop to notice them. 

This brings me to my first major realization. First, it’s so easy for me to get absorbed in my own issues and see everyone only in relation to me. I’ll often let the most insignificant actions dictate how I feel about someone, even if I’ve never met them before — I only care about if and how I’ve interacted with them. It’s easy to forget that we’re all individuals with our own issues and stories. So even in the people we may not always like or even notice, we should choose to see, or at least believe there is, good. 

Now, I don’t want to beat a dead horse and continue to broadly generalize this insignificant action. However, I personally see it as a positive symbol for human nature and at the end of the day, why wouldn’t I want to see the glass half-full? 

Another aspect I love most about this “door holding” act is that it’s often intended for strangers. Think about all the random individuals who’ve held open the door for you in airports, malls, grocery stores and even at school. Chances are that you didn’t personally know many of them. Whether it was intentional for them or just a mechanical habit, the beauty lies within the fact that it happened. 

This phenomenon of doing something nice for a stranger is present throughout the University as well. Just this past week, I saw multiple individuals handing out roses to strangers on Valentine’s Day. Moreover, on any given day, I’ll often see messages of positivity in bathroom stalls and even compliments decorated on poles around grounds. This notion is also illustrated through the “pay it forward” chain, where one person pays for the person behind them in a drive-thru and the cycle continues. 

Ultimately, these random acts of kindness are all around us and I choose to believe they’re truly telling of human nature. It's incredibly easy to develop a Machiavellian perspective and default to a less optimistic view of people, especially after a few horrible encounters. But, I aspire to see the world differently. 

Whether it’s the values we’ve been raised with, customs we’ve learned or some biological piece, I choose to see and believe in the good in people. Yes, spending a few seconds out of your day holding the door for someone doesn’t automatically make you good. And yet, there’s something innately beautiful about the fact that people do it anyway. And that even this seemingly mundane act of kindness is ingrained within us. 

I’m not saying you should automatically assume the absolute best in every single individual. It’s just not true that every person you’ll meet will be the epitome of kindness, and it’s difficult to assume the good in people you don’t know. But at the same time, I think it’s worth it to at least try to see the positive. Holding the door for someone isn’t the greatest act of selflessness in the world, but it’s a start. And maybe, it really is symbolic of something deeper and indicative of what people have to offer. 

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