I’m already checking the comments to this post in my head.

Will you call me sexist?

Will you hate on me?

Good reasons not to post this, right?

So, why am I so compelled to share this story?

I think it has to do with my desire to take a deep dive into human motivation—one of my passions.

*** The Truth ***

Back in 2015 Dr. Nina Kruglikova invited me to give a talk at the University of Oxford about how I learned Russian.

I showed a picture with red hearts and the things that inspired me to learn Russian written in each one of those hearts.

I still remember creating the Powerpoint slide at home in London and debating whether I should keep or leave out one particular heart.

I imagined some people in the audience seeing that heart and asking themselves, “Who is this jerk?”

"But it’s the truth. You have to tell them", I thought.

F*** it, I’ll do it.

I wrote, “Russian Women” in one of those hearts.
Red Hearts Russian.jpg

At the time of my presentation, I joked briefly when it came to that heart, “Ooops, sorry guys, I forgot to take that out! Now you all know why I learned Russian”, and rushed to move on to the next heart.

If you watch the video, you’ll see my awkward reaction to my own words.

As for their reaction, I don’t remember anything. I probably suppressed it consciously and unconsciously forever!

Even though I didn’t say much, I’m proud that, at least, I mentioned it—the truth.

True, I learned Russian and lived in Russia because I found Russian women very attractive.

Not only physically attractive; I was attracted to their values, humility, romanticism, and femininity.

I love the Russian language per se but I also used it as a tool to impress Russian women.

I was motivated to perfect my grammar, eliminate my mistakes, and achieve a close-to-native pronunciation.

And I won’t lie. I enjoyed the praise I received from both women and men.

While no one mistook me for Russian, they often thought I came from an ex-Soviet Union country—Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania. Still a victory.

Do you want to call it ego? I take no offence. Let’s call it ego!

*** A Desire to Impress ***

The driving force behind many things I did in my life partly came from a desire to impress women.

A force related to romantic attraction.

The desire for status, recognition, and success in different areas of my life, was partly linked to this force.

This force served as a weapon, a tool, a carrot to motivate myself to accomplish things, including mastering a language.

Sure, I knew you don’t have to impress someone to win their heart—and sometimes showing off can achieve the exact opposite.

Yet, I consciously used that drive to create my life.

It worked for me.

I assume romantic attraction is a carrot for many people.

Aristotle Onassis, the famous Greek business magnate, said:

“If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning”.

You see it in nature, too.

Male birds open their mouths wide open or male peacocks fan out their feathers to seduce females. What’s the point in this? It’s silly, I know, but it serves a purpose.

Why should it be bad or not cool when a human being does something to impress another human being?

To me, this drive or any drive is a powerful tool as long as it doesn’t harm others and you can use it to achieve the things you want to achieve in your life.

When this drive comes from a space of deficit or desperation, it creates negativity and blocks the creation process.

But if this drive lifts you up and inspires you, why not use it?

Why should you only motivate yourself intrinsically without any external rewards?

I fell in love with this quote by Leo Tolstoy when I heard it for the first time in Russian.

“If you do a good act so you get recognition, then it’s no longer a good act. It is better to do good so that, ask whom you will, no one knows anything about it. (In Russian: Если добро имеет причину, оно уже не добро; если оно имеет последствие – награду, оно тоже не добро. Стало быть, добро вне цепи причин и следствий).”

I admire those who do stuff without any need for recognition or respect from others.

Yet, I believe it’s better to do something being driven by a need for recognition rather than not do it.

Evolutionarily speaking, we are hard-wired to seek recognition and acceptance from the tribe since that increases our chances of survival.

Why not address, accept and use that need for admiration, recognition or status?

I don’t think our society got to the point it is today because people were only intrinsically motivated.

Of course, wars and bad things happen in the world because people are motivated by the wrong things, but I believe positive external rewards motivate people to do good things, too.

Where’s your own motivation coming from?

A woman, a man, status, money, helping others, an award, a New York Times bestseller, impact, legacy?

All sound good to me. Legitimate. Pure. Noble. Human.

And if sometimes it feels a little vain, it’s still OK. Observe it, accept it, work with it, use it.

There’s nothing you should feel ashamed of here.

*** From River Thames to Neva River ***

In my seven years of living in London, I never managed to find the right partner. Something stopped me from experiencing success in relationships.

Was it me? Was I more focused on my career? Did I block fulfilment because I wanted it too much after accomplishing professional success? I’m not sure.

Back then I blamed London, “It’s London’s fast-paced rhythm of life, ephemeral relationships. Everyone here just cares about success; everything is a means to an end”.

I don’t believe all that today but there still might be a thread of truth in there.

When I hung out with Russians in London and watched those romantic Soviet films, I built a picture of a woman I wanted to meet.

This can be misleading and dangerous. Our imagination often constructs an overly idealistic or utopian story.

Not all women I met in Russia matched the profile I had created in my head. I often found myself disillusioned when reality didn’t match my story.

Yet, the belief that, “The chances of meeting the ideal partner are higher here”, the frequency I tuned myself to, the excitement, the emotional investment, the hope, all kept me going.

And they probably helped me meet my girlfriend Katya who’s now my wife.

I met Katya in Saint Petersburg. On the street. Randomly.

I was a stranger who walked up to her and said, “Hi. I want to get to know you. I’m Angelos”.

She agreed to a 10-minute walk and we ended up walking for two hours on a freezy and snowy evening.

She turned out to be the one I was looking for—the woman I had in my head when watching those old Soviet films.

I still call her a “Soviet woman” by the way, because she was born in 1987—before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

What matters is that I lived the adventure. I felt excited, motivated, woke up full of energy, connected with people, created, and … also met my other half among palaces and canals in one of the most beautiful and romantic cities of the world.

I wanted to live life intensely, as Charlie Chaplin said:

“Life is a play that does not allow testing. So, sing, cry, dance, laugh and live intensely, before the curtain closes and the piece ends with no applause.”

This is the truth. You know everything now.

With love, Angelos

PS: I published this on my blog. To see all the pictures and video visit https://angelosgeorgakis.com/why-i-lived-in-russia/

Angelos Piter 1st Time Anichkov.jpg