Just overheard a conversation at Starbucks. It was similar to one I have had a dozen times, but yet I forget what it sounds like from the outside. These older gentlemen were sitting and colorfully expressing their feelings about their Home Owners Association. Now granted, this Starbucks was in a fancier part of town, so knowing the fancier neighborhoods near by, I can only guess their HOA had way fancier rules than ours so I don’t want to presume to understand their plight, but they were for sure not happy. So many expressions that made me blush.
As I listened to the particular guidelines I couldn’t help but think, “But didn’t you know these things before you moved in there?” Now granted, HOA’s change rules, they vote, things shift, stuff happens, but I was thinking of all the complaining I had done about our last HOA. The rules about parking on the street drove me crazy. The requirements for a certain number of trees in the front yard seemed silly to me. So I complained. Not as colorfully as these guys, but I did beyond my fair share of whining. And I would come back to the same question, “Didn’t I know all this before I agreed to live there?”
My response to myself was always “Well, self, yes and no. Yes, I agreed to live there and signed an HOA document, but no because I didn’t actually read all the paperwork.” Bottomline, my frustrations were not because they were changing rules, but because I didn’t want to deal with the agreement I already made. What was “no big deal” at signing, later became a big deal, but that’s not actually on the HOA.
I’ve been thinking about how I do this in several other areas of my life. I complain, when in reality I’m only getting what I signed up for. I don’t think I’m alone here. I often reference this as “being mad at your yes,” and I am always amused by the irony this presents in our lives.
Life will throw enough curve-balls and unrequested demands, but when we find ourselves mad about a scenario that we actually created/“signed on for,” we should pause and snag a little personal accountability.
I think we should also consider the damage we do to our relationships when we blame others for something we agreed to on our own. I realize most of us will not be called out for bad-mouthing an HOA as we chat with like-frustrated neighbors, but what about other scenarios? How can these moments of dealing with the consequences of not fully thinking through our own yes and/or no up front, end up breeding some funky stuff later?
Now let me say, I am not an anti-ventor, there is something to be said for safe spaces, for raw processing. I’m just going to encourage us to follow that up with a decent amount of honest self-reflection. Where have you found yourself complaining about an agreement you chose? Have you taken the time to consider your part?