Perfectly Imperfect

I’m sitting here, in my pandemic-hack “office” aka corner of my bedroom, in my sweaty gym clothes, looking at piles of laundry and an unmade bed. My “clean out the office closet” project turned into “switch the toddler’s room and the office and repaint everything while going full Marie Kondo on the house.” Classes start in a couple of weeks, my tenure and promotion hearing is next week, and I’m not ready for either one. I am sure some version of this chaos has you nodding, “yes, sounds like me.” Or, maybe you’re sitting there saying, “I could really help this woman get her life together.” (If so, please, and thank you! I could probably use the help!)

Dana and I have been talking about starting a mental health collective for months now. We both work in mental health, albeit in very different ways (which I think just adds to the fun of our friendship and the work we hope to do together). We’re both really energized by the idea of creating a space for people to engage in a more fulfilling life experience. We also are both really -f-ing- busy and probably have no business starting yet another new project. Yet, I think we both feel drawn to the idea of community engaged mental wellness in ways that our respective jobs individually can’t provide, and the mental health field is really failing to provide.

An internal report from Hewett Packard (HP) cited in several highly read books (think Lean In) discussed how women are less likely to apply for a job that they are partially qualified for than men are, which HP hypothesized was due to women’s lack of overall confidence. In an informal survey published in Harvard Business Review by Tara Sophia Mohr in 2014, she found that it seemed to be less a lack of confidence and more a fear of failure that inhibited women from applying to jobs that they were mostly, but not entirely qualified for. Additionally, Mohr discussed how men and women were playing the “game” differently – women follow the rules, women are hired and promoted for experience/qualifications versus potential, etc.

I think we both feel drawn to the idea of community engaged mental wellness in ways that our respective jobs individually can’t provide, and the mental health field is really failing to provide."

I’ve always talked to my students about their potential and applying for jobs they are mostly qualified for (most of my students are female identified). With reflection (and a really awesome therapist!), I see how much I let fear of failure prevent me from doing things. I see how I overqualify myself before engaging in something. Even something like this, the negative thoughts start (“What business do you have doing something like this?” “Who would listen to you?”) Hell, my tenure and promotion hearing is coming up and I’m still wondering when my employer is going to realize I’m not qualified. My house is a mess, my projects are half done, I have a more than full time job, a husband who works too much, and a toddler. I’m not ready to add anything else to my plate. Yet… here we are. I promise I have a point.

The idea behind creating Atlantic Pacific Collective is about being more open to trying things, even if it isn’t the “perfect” time or if you aren’t 100% prepared. The long and short of it is that if we want to provide brave spaces for people, especially women, to explore their own desires, goals, and experiences, we need to do so openly, and imperfectly, and destigmatize the process of growth and learning. We need to normalize failure and imperfection. We can move forward even if we aren’t fully ready. Everyone’s journey is different, but we need to be able to put experiences into context. We need to do so with authenticity, not authority.

So, here we are. I’m about 60% ready to do this, but here we go. I’m Kori, and it’s so nice to meet you. Let’s do this.

Tara Mohr’s article: Why Women Don't Apply for Jobs Unless They're 100% Qualified

- Kori

I am the “Atlantic” half, residing in Massachusetts with my husband, toddler, and yellow lab. I’m a professor, and life is as busy as it sounds. I definitely struggle with FOMO and wanting to have it all!

I have worked in the helping professions in one way or another my entire career, and as a professor, I get to teach others how to be effective helpers. My heart is in the business of helping people to be the best version of who they truly are – no judgment here. I don’t think accessing mental health care should be as difficult as it is. I hope while you’re here, you find something that helps you help yourself with learning, growing, or sometimes, just accepting where you are. I think we all have something to offer one another.

I am terrible, however, at organization and time management, so maybe you can look to Dana for that.

When I’m not working (which is rare), I’m spending time with my family, traveling, or reading. I’m a huge advocate for social justice and change. I’m happy to have you here with us.