The past couple of weeks has been crazy for me. I recently purchased my dream home right on the lakefront in Chicago. It’s in a quiet, peaceful area of the city. I’m not a party animal by any means, I’ve always been an old soul. So chilling on my balcony listening to the waves from the lake or having the option to go for a swim during the day is icing on the cake.
I moved into my dream home only to quickly discover that the Unit above me does NOT have any soundproofing insulation in her unit. Meaning, I can hear everything that she does. Walking, talking, running water, you name it. By the way, in case you’re wondering, soundproof insulation is NOT something that would be checked for in a home inspection. Home inspectors only check for visible damage. Plus, if you see this building, combined with the amount of money that I pay in mortgage and HOA fees you would NEVER assume that this would even be an issue.
I was angry and upset when I discovered this problem. Especially because this person let’s call her Karen because that’s exactly what she is and you’ll see why in a moment, Karen decided to throw a party that went on until 4am. Now I work from home. You have to be absolutely insane to throw a party knowing full well that your unit is not soundproof.
I wrote a letter to the President of the HOA board, that the Unit above me was violating the board’s own bylaws because her unit is not soundproof and wanted to know how we were going to resolve this situation. Now, the real irony in this situation is that Karen is also on the board. So needless to say, she, like many of the Karen’s in the world, believes that rules apply to everyone else but themselves.
So Karen had the audacity or should I say caucasity to respond to my complaint by telling me that I should come upstairs whenever I feel that she’s being too loud. Not that she’s going to get the insulation installed as the condo rules state, but that I’m supposed to inconvenience myself and allow her to determine my peace and happiness regarding what is considered acceptable noise level. Again, going by her insane rationale, I would be running upstairs every 5 minutes because I can hear her walking, talking, etc.
By the way, I already knew that Karen’s “suggestion” for me to knock on her door and tell her when she’s loud was nothing more than a setup. Karen’s are tricky like that. Instead of her doing the right thing and installing insulation that should have been done years ago, she was hoping that I would be an idiot, knock on her door, thereby setting the scene for her to make a false claim to the police that I’m harassing her. She’s definitely the type that has the cops on speed dial and would rival Amy Cooper’s white woman damsel in distress act. I’m not even trying to go down that route…
Everyone on the board are friends, so clearly I’m going to most likely have to seek remedies outside of this insane condo board composed of idiots in order to get this situation resolved. Trust me, I am extremely confident that this situation will get resolved in my favor. However, I can’t help but shake my head in frustration because this would never happen if the situation were reversed. I’d be in jail or automatically fined by the board. Yet, I’m the one who has to jump through all of these unnecessary hoops so I can receive the justice that I seek which is to completely enjoy the peace and comfort of my own home.
I’m in a David and Goliath situation. I’m new to the building. Based on the looks I get whenever I enter the building, some still haven’t gotten the memo that Black people can own property now, so me living here is probably really confusing for 90% of the folks that live in my building. So needless to say, in my short time living in my dream home I’ve already been labeled as a trouble maker. All because I won’t let people walk all over me as a doormat.
For those of you who truly know me, you’re probably laughing. You know I’m really laid back, super chill. I’ve been told I’m funny, kind, patient and helpful so it’s ironic that I’m being viewed as a troublemaker.
I remember thinking to myself. “At least, I’m causing good trouble.” Then, I immediately thought about one of my favorite quotes from civil rights activist John Lewis said, “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Just in case you’re not familiar with the phrase “good trouble” it means to stand up for your rights.
This is exactly what I plan to do, but it got me thinking, “How many of us are causing good trouble?”
I’ve never purposely set out to get into trouble but if it finds me, I’m not running away. I’m going to fight back. I haven’t always been this way. There was a big chunk of my life where I would be smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. Mainly, because I was too busy worrying about what other people would think if I decided to stand up for myself.
Throughout the years and due to a variety of unpleasant circumstances that I’ve experienced, something in me just snapped. I just knew that I could not go on living this way. People are going to talk about you no matter what you do, so like my mom said, “Make it count. Regardless of what you decide, you’re bound to upset someone so make sure that whatever you decide to do is in your best interest.” I can’t recall the exact moment but I think it was in my early thirties when her advice finally started to click for me. When you cause good trouble, the bullies/Goliath’s feel threatened. Their entire definition of success is based on whether you fear them.
I’ve learned that living a life causing good trouble can be scary at times. However, the damage that allowing Goliaths (aka bullies) can cause will greatly diminish your life. Trust me, I’ve experienced both sides of this coin and I’d rather live a life filled with good trouble. There’s so many benefits to living a life filled with good trouble.
One of the beauties of living a life filled with good trouble means that you can hold people accountable for their actions. I truly believe the majority of the chaos that you see in this world is due to the fact that so many miserable people aren’t being put in their place. They insist on viewing themselves as a victim and will blame anyone or anything other than themselves. Oftentimes, bullies feel powerful not because they are right, but because they think that there is safety in numbers. They don’t realize that those people who support these bullies out of fear will leave that bully alone the moment that someone who causes good trouble exposes that bullies insecurities.
Another one of my favorite benefits of causing good trouble is that it empowers you to make decisions that protect your sanity. There have been countless times throughout my journey through the corporate world where I’ve just wanted to scream. Regardless of how hard I worked and even if I achieved my goals, I still felt invisible. It was a slap in the face to see that success in the corporate world often relies on who you know instead of what you know and whether or not you’re viewed as a “teamplayer.”
That last phrase by the way is code for, “How much nonsense are you willing to put up with on a daily basis to prove that you fit in?” The most frustrating thing about both of the aforementioned is that neither one of the things I just mentioned have ANYTHING to do with you actually doing your job.
It’s just plain frustrating for someone like me because I’m more quiet at work. I’m big on living a drama free life so one of the best ways I’ve learned to stay out of office politics is to stay to myself at work. It’s less of a headache for me. After working hard all day, my favorite way to unwind is to exercise or work on my passion projects.
My willingness to make good trouble has allowed me to last but not least work on projects that use my creativity to help inspire others to achieve their goals. I can personally attest to the fact that there’s no such thing as making it to the top alone. God has blessed us with a variety of talents. We may not get to use them on our 9 to 5 but that’s why it’s important to reclaim your time after work so you can discover or develop talents that can position you to be a blessing in someone else’s life.
If you need a boost, or push, I’m more than happy to help but only if you’re willing to step out in faith and into some good trouble.
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