For two weeks after I turned 21, I had a really hard time buying beer. It's not because I didn't have proper ID. (I did.)
It's not because I didn't have the money to do so. (I did.)
And it's not because I was living in a place that didn't allow alcohol. (I wasn't.)
It's because I didn't demand it.
Allow me to explain:
Why No One Would Give Me a Beer After I Turned 21
The summer after I turned 21, I spent six weeks in Russia on a language immersion program. For a month and a half, I lived with a host family, took language and culture classes three days a week, and traveled throughout the northwestern Russian countryside. It was amazing.
When I arrived at my host family's home, I quickly learned two things:
- Russians always wear house shoes inside
- Russians do not drink exclusively vodka
In the summer, Russians really, really, really like beer. Which was great for me, because the summer after I turned 21, I also really, really, really liked beer.
(NB: I am making a generalization based on my personal experiences. If you are a Russian who does not like to drink beer in the summer, please accept my apologies for creating a stereotype around you.)
I made a promise to myself that, while I was in country, I would speak Russian as often as I could. And to force myself to use the language—my host family spoke impeccable English and often used it with me—I would volunteer to go into the shops to buy beer. And more often than not, I would walk out empty-handed.
I couldn't figure it out. I knew my accent was bad (atrocious, really), but we were in a tourist town. Many of the shopkeepers, even if they didn't speak or understand English, at least knew enough to spot the tourists and use Pointy-Talky.
And I knew that my request was grammatically correct; I translated it with my fellow program participants on the plane ride over. (We wanted to make sure we could order beer!)
About two weeks into my trip, I took a trip to Moscow to visit a friend from university. And, being summertime, we celebrated our reunion with a beer. Or tried to.
I approached the beer kiosk and said to the woman, "Mne kxochetsa dve piva, pozhaluysta." "I want two beers, please."
And she just looked at me.
I repeated my request: "Mne kxochetsa dve piva, pozhaluysta!"
Practically in tears, I walked back to my friend empty-handed. He asked where the beers were and I said, "I can't get anyone to give me a beer! This has been happening since I showed up! I don't get it! Is my accent really that bad?"
And he said, "Yes. But that's probably not the reason. How are you asking for a beer?"
And I told him.
And he started laughing.
"Lynn," he said, "you're saying, 'I want a beer, please.'"
"I know. What's wrong with that?"
He said, "You're being too polite. When you say, 'I want a beer, please,' the cashier is thinking, Yeah, I want a beer too. A beer sounds nice. And? If you want a beer you have to say, 'DAYTE mne pivo.' 'GIVE me a beer.'"
Gasp and shock. My poor, polite, American heart was exploding at the audacity of demanding a beer. And I said as much.
He replied, "Lynn, it's not impolite. It's how you get things. You demand them. And yeah, since you're American, you can add 'please' so you don't sound like a dick. But you don't have to. And they'll respect you more if you don't."
For the first time in my life, I was being told to demand what I wanted. And then expect it. And I didn't have to be polite and simpering about it.
I needed to do more than just want it; I needed to demand it. And then, because I was making an even exchange of money for beer, I needed to expect it.
Interestingly, it's the same way with getting what you want in life.
You have to do more than just want it. You have to DEMAND it. And when you make the even exchange, whether it's money, time, effort, or something else, you have to expect that you will receive it.
There's no questioning whether or not you're worthy to receive your desires. You are.
I know this comes up for a lot of people. I get it. We've been told that what we want is frivolous, or unnecessary, or out of our league, or impossible.
That's dead wrong.
What we want, our desires, are important. There is a reason you want them. And if you are willing to demand, with confidence and authority, what you want and make the even exchange, then you are worthy of receiving it. Period.
Over to You
Do you want, or do you demand?
Tell me your story in the comments.
Then, share this article with at least three women who you believe are ready to step up and demand that life give them what they want.