Asking for What You Want

Asking for What You Want

Overall (and we don’t like to admit it), women are notorious for keeping their needs to themselves. We smile and laugh while juggling a thousand spinning plates—but just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. We hold far too many of our feelings, needs, and desires close to our chest and then (surprise!) feel secretly pissed when our loved ones don’t read our minds. It’s the ultimate lose-lose situation for everyone involved.  

Did you know that in a study of over 5,000 moms across the country, 90% said they don’t get what they want for Mother’s Day? And to think the highway to happiness is as simple as speaking up. I’m pretty sure all the husbands, partners, friends, and children out there aren’t intentionally buying us the wrong gifts.

If we stay silent about our holiday desires, what does that say about voicing our needs in other contexts? Do you bite your tongue in the boardroom, PTA meetings, and the bedroom, too?

It’s crucial to ask for what you want. It’s a gift that will keep on giving beyond Mother’s Day. 

Below are three examples from friends and family who benefitted from speaking up about their needs. They didn’t leave their happiness to chance but used their voice to get what they craved. 

Extra support. Amber, my girlfriend in California, recently underwent surgery to remove years of pelvic damage from endometriosis. Before surgery, she posted a hilarious post on Instagram, letting all her friends know that she’d be laid up at home for several weeks, and she’d welcome any goodies they sent. She made suggestions like soup, Ginger Ale, wet wipes, liquor, cookies, and dream catchers to ward off bad spirits. In return, she promised to post a funny story featuring every item she received. Boy did people deliver! Not only did Amber receive dozens of gifts that she needed, but we all got to watch hilarious videos of her enjoying them. Such a clever idea!

Space. When my friend Kathy recently (and begrudgingly) moved from Richmond to Chicago, her friend asked to keep her company on the 13-hour drive. “Sure,” Kathy said. “But just know I’m going to be sad during the trip, because I’m moving away from family, and I might not be great company.” I love this story, because Kathy spoke her truth, out loud and in advance, so she didn’t have to pretend that everything was fine for her friend, if it wasn’t. Turns out, Kathy’s company made her trip much easier and more pleasant—all because she knew how to zone in on her desires and why she needed them in the first place. 

A break. A few years ago, my husband began using the phrase, “I’ve reached my breaking point” to announce when he felt maxed out and needed a breather. Now, everyone in our family has adopted the phrase. When my daughter is ready to leave an event, my son wants to stop talking about a particular subject, or I’m ready to call it a day and head to bed, we all calmly confess that we’ve reached our breaking point. If one of us is brave enough to wave the white flag and announce exactly what we need, nobody argues.

It’s important to know what you need before telling others. Kathy had to know she was sad before admitting she was sad. Amber had to admit that she’d need support before allowing others to provide it. These women weren’t blind to their needs, and they weren’t afraid to express them.

When it comes to getting what you need—whether it’s for Mother’s Day, next Wednesday, or every other Saturday—why not voice your truth? Getting the help, support, and understanding you deserve is not the time to test how much you think those around you care or possess spooky telepathy skills. 

It’s time to speak up for yourself. You might just get the Mother’s Day brunch—or raise! Or support! Or company! (Stop me anytime)—that you deserve.

Katherine Wintsch