It seems like whenever there’s a lady in my life, I begin to hear the words ‘street smart’ or ‘street wise’ more and more, especially from family. The fear is always that I am not “street wise” and she is, and so she’s bound to take advantage of that to manipulate me, since I am naïve.
So, it has recently come up again. And this time, instead of being offended by it, I sought to understand what this whole being street smart or wise thing is all about so I can at least know where they’re coming from.
A definition I liked the most was one I found in the Urban Dictionary. There, “street smarts” is defined as:
Intelligence gained outside of school. Just as useful as book smarts, and in many cases more so. It can be divided into 4 categories.
1. Getting Along With Others – Knowing which questions to ask and not asking too many, being polite and friendly, but also being assertive.
2. Common Sense – Knowing who you can trust, which areas in town are good and which are bad, etc.
3.Self-defense-Knowing how to fight and fend off an attacker, especially if you are small.
4. BS-detection – Knowing when people are trying to f– you over, reading their intentions, and knowing that most corporate advertisements are complete b-s.
I could then see that the fourth category is where my family’s concern for me kind of falls into. Do I know when people are trying to take advantage of me? Can I read their intentions? Do I know whom to trust?
They believe that because I’ve not been a “bad boy”, I can’t possibly know these things. “You have lived a protected life”, they would say. Bad boys have been out on the streets, they’ve played with girls’ hearts, they’ve got into a lot of trouble and they’ve got out of trouble also, they’ve rolled with the wrong crew, and so on. And from all those many experiences, they’ve acquired the street smarts needed to deal wisely in the world out there.
Well, I don’t know about all that. But I do know that there’s always a way that seems very wise in most people’s eyes and that way always eventually leads to destruction. And if your wisdom is not one from above but from as low as the streets, then it certainly isn’t divine and its end is usually destruction.
I think street smarts or street wisdom is required to run the streets or to survive while there. And unless one wants to remain there, one should look above the streets and seek wisdom that is required not to run the streets but to run the world; not to survive on the streets but to thrive in the world.
It is wisdom gained outside of school. It is more useful than book smarts and street smarts. It can be acquired without the necessity of being out there on the streets, thugging. And its knowledge can be passed on from one generation to another, activated into wisdom by simply putting it to practice.
It can be divided into 3 categories.
- Faith and Morality – Learning to stand for something so that we don’t just fall for anything. Our faith is where our values come from as well as our definition of good and evil, right and wrong. And this is what forms our beliefs, which drive what we do throughout our lives. If we have the wrong set of beliefs, then we’ll make the wrong set of life choices and end up in bad shape.
- Male-Female Relationships – Understanding that this drives a lot of our actions in the world, beneath the surface, and that the way one gender sees things is often the total opposite of how the other does. For instance, it will be foolish for a guy to rely on his eyes, instead of his ears, while making the decision of what girl to end up with. And it will be foolish for a lady to rely on the redemptive power of the prospect of sexual and erotic love to change a boy into the man she needs him to be.
- Money – Becoming a good money manager. Developing good saving and investing habits, working hard at a career or building a business, not wasting the early, hustling days of your life running the streets being ‘social’.
If we look back on our lives or look at those of others, we would realize that major life mistakes that we make almost always fall into any of these 3 categories. It’s either we are careless with money, or we get into a bad relationship with the wrong person, or we miss it in terms our beliefs which is the most fatal.
These 3 things are also what drive people. People fight each other because of faith, money, or over a lover. In fact, nations have been known to go to war over these three things.
When we understand that these are what motivate people, then we are able to easily discern the intentions behind their actions and know how to relate with them appropriately. We won’t be easily taken advantage of because we understand how the world works and what makes the people in it tick.
So, I’d rather not concern myself with acquiring street smarts. I would instead occupy myself with gaining more wisdom; understanding how the world really works and applying it practically. That way, I’d end up not being so pedestrian as to attract a lady of the streets to myself, since like begets like.