I am a professional troublemaker.
What is a professional troublemaker, you ask?
A professional troublemaker is not the person who brings chaos into the midst of any room they are in. That person is a troll. A professional troublemaker is not someone who insists on speaking to hurt feelings. That person is a hater. A professional troublemaker is not someone who wants to disagree with people just because they wanna play devil’s advocate. That person is a contrarian, and Satan never told anyone he needed a supervisor, so I’m not sure why so many people volunteer for the position.
A professional troublemaker is someone who critiques the world, the shoddy systems, and the people who refuse to do better. As a writer, a speaker, and a shady Nigerian, I am the person who is giving the side-eye to folks for doing trash things. I am the person who is unable to be quiet when I feel cheated. I am the person who says what you are thinking and feeling but dare not say because you have a job to protect, or you’re afraid of how it will land. I even wrote a whole book called I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. A book that I TRUST you’ve read by now. If you haven’t, well, I’m judging you. *Clears throat.*
While a professional troublemaker isn’t someone who manufactures chaos or crises, they do understand that chaos can come from being honest and authentic and going against the tide. Because in a world that insists on our cooperation even in the face of perpetual turmoil, not standing for it makes you a rebel. Professional troublemakers deal with it because they have a cause. They are often sharp tongued and misunderstood but always golden hearted. A professional troublemaker is committed to speaking the truth and showing up always as themselves, and is almost unable to bow in the face of a world that demands it.
People often ask me how I am confident in who I am, and how I have the nerve to say what I say. I’ve always shrugged and said I don’t remember not being this person. Whenever I got in trouble when I was little, it was usually for my mouth. Being a Naija girl, I come from a culture that prioritizes age when it comes to giving respect, but that never sat well with me. Which is why Little Luvvie got punished usually for telling someone older that she didn’t like what they were saying or doing.
But it’s also because I come from a long line of professional troublemakers. My grandmother, Olúfúnmiláyọ̀ Fáloyin, was the one I got to see as I was growing up. When I really give it thought, I realize I got a generation’s worth of courage from Grandma.
My grandma was the chairlady of the board of directors of Team No Chill Enterprises. As an elder Nigerian stateswoman, she was the epitome of Giver of No Dambs. She was too old to be checked. She knew how to take up the space she was given, and in the times she wasn’t given space, she took it. She did all of this with a smile and charm that made her magnetic. She wasn’t rude but she was direct. She wasn’t hateful, but you would hear her speak her mind. She was open-hearted and open-handed and she prayed with the same fervor that she’d use to lambast you. She could not stand to see people cheated or treated poorly. In her honesty and given the fact that she approached everything with so much heart, she was deeply loved by so many.
This is the crux of what it means to be a professional troublemaker.